For the Brokenhearted, Ohio Manufacturer Brings Sweethearts Back in 2020

Cathalijne Adams

Cathalijne Adams Researcher, AAM

Before the notion of an exchange of rings to affirm love ever struck you, a Sweethearts candy heart imprinted with “Love U” or some other sweet nothing was likely one of the first declarations of affection that you encountered outside of your own family.

On Valentine’s Day, seemingly everywhere you look, you can find these saccharine heart-shaped missives. Indeed, conversation hearts are the most popular Valentine’s Day candy, according to online bulk-candy seller CandyStore.com, with over 19 million pounds sold each year – 80 percent of which are from the Sweethearts brand. The New England Confectionary Co., also known as Necco, reportedly produced eight million Sweethearts annually.

But brace yourself… Sadly, there will be no Sweethearts this Valentine’s Day.  

I know. I know. How else will you express your undying devotion to your beloved without such pithy phrases and pet names as “Text Me,” “Say Yes” or “Cutie Pie” stamped on a piece of candy to sweeten the burgeoning romance?!     

However, there’s no need for further heart palpitations, Sweethearts will make their triumphant return come 2020 thanks to Ohio-based Spangler Candy Company, averting what would otherwise be a permanent Valentine’s Day tragedy. Unfortunately, Spangler has yet to announce whether the candy will be made in the company’s Ohio factory.

“We wish we could have Sweethearts® out for the 2019 Valentine season, but it’s just not possible,” said Spangler Chairman and CEO Kirk Vashaw, a fourth-generation descendant of the company’s founder. “We are committed to making sure these brands meet consumer expectations when they re-enter the market. Doing it right takes time.”

You may already recognize Spangler’s name thanks to the company’s iconic Made in Ohio Dum Dum, a mainstay of any self-respecting trick-or-treating event.

The family-owned company founded in 1906 employs 550 workers in its Bryan, Ohio, factory and headquarters while also operating a smaller co-manufacturing facility in Juarez, Mexico, so there’s a strong chance that when Sweethearts return to the market they’ll still be Made in America.

America's most popular Valentine's Day candy, Sweethearts, was made in Revere, Mass., prior to the the closure of Necco in 2018. The production location of Sweethearts in 2020 is yet to be announced. | Photo courtesy of Jill Robidoux

Spangler’s commitment to manufacturing the classic candy represents a happy turn in what otherwise promised to be the end of America’s love affair with Sweethearts. In May of last year, the New England Confectionery Co., also known as Necco, which manufactured the candy, was sold in a bankruptcy auction. Then in July, Necco’s plant in Revere, Mass., shut down, and the company, along with its Sweethearts recipe, yet again passed hands, this time ending up in Spangler’s holdings.

With a history stretching back to 1847, Sweethearts is an enduring symbol of Valentine’s Day, so we’re pleased to see that it will return, but if Spangler wishes to remain true to Sweethearts’ legacy, it should also commit to making the candy in America.   

Learn more about Spangler and its Made in Ohio Dum Dums with the video below.

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Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Federal Minimum Wage Reaches Disappointing Milestone

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

A disgraceful milestone occurred last Sunday, June 16.

That date officially marked the longest period that the United States has gone without increasing federal the minimum wage.

That means Congress has denied raises for a decade to 1.8 million American workers, that is, those workers who earn $7.25 an hour or less. These 1.8 million Americans have watched in frustration as Congress not only denied them wages increases, but used their tax dollars to raise Congressional pay. They continued to watch in disappointment as the Trump administration failed to keep its promise that the 2017 tax cut law would increase every worker’s pay by $4,000 per year.

More than 12 years ago, in May 2007, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It took effect two years later. Congress has failed to act since then, so it has, in effect, now imposed a decade-long wage freeze on the nation’s lowest income workers.

To combat this unjust situation, minimum wage workers could rally and call their lawmakers to demand action, but they’re typically working more than one job just to get by, so few have the energy or patience.

The Economic Policy Institute points out in a recent report on the federal minimum wage that as the cost of living rose over the past 10 years, Congress’ inaction cut the take-home pay of working families.  

At the current dismal rate, full-time workers receiving minimum wage earn $15,080 a year. It was virtually impossible to scrape by on $15,080 a decade ago, let alone support a family. But with the cost of living having risen 18% over that time, the situation now is far worse for the working poor. The current federal minimum wage is not a living wage. And no full-time worker should live in poverty.

While ignoring the needs of low-income workers, members of Congress, who taxpayers pay at least $174,000 a year, are scheduled to receive an automatic $4,500 cost-of-living raise this year. Congress increased its own pay from $169,300 to $174,000 in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession when low income people across the country were out of work and losing their homes. While Congress has frozen its own pay since then, that’s little consolation to minimum wage workers who take home less than a tenth of Congressional salaries.

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