With Valentine’s Day only a few weeks away, Sweethearts is entering its busy season again. The popular heart-shaped sugar candy regularly adds and removes sayings each year to prep for the new season, but 2015 marks a historic moment for the 149-year-old brand: fan-sourced phrases.
Last year, Sweethearts launched “Color Your Own” black-and-white boxes that had an empty space for young fans to color their phrase suggestions and submit their entries for consideration.
“We saw it as another way to expand the Sweethearts brand and really interact with our younger fan base,” Necco social media specialist Mary Lane told ABC News “It’s a great and fun unique product, so it’s an exciting new innovation for us.”
A panel of five judges chose from over 150 entries that came from 32 states.
“We were excited to see that high of a participation rate, especially our first year,” Lane said. “It took us a while to go through every one to give them all an equal chance, but the winners that we did end up picking really stood out. They put so much effort and creativity into each of those designs.”
The winners were Makendra Mowad from Bristol, Conn., in the 5 to 7 age group, Grace Forgea from Santa Barbara, Calif., in the 8 to 10 age group, and Teagan Clark from Ransomville, New York, in the 11 to 12 age group. Each winner also got $1,000.
Mowad chose “Girl Power,” Forgea went with “Pugs & Kittens” and Clark decided on “Luv 2 Dance.”
“After we contacted them letting them know they had won, their excitement matched our own,” Lane said. “They were so happy to participate to begin with, and the fact that they were winners you could tell for each contestant it really mattered to them and they were proud. One of our contestants told us she included it as a speech in her school.”
In addition to the fan phrases, Sweethearts also added “BFF,” two emojis (a smiley face and a moustache) and “I Love You” in Spanish and French.