Earlier this week, I discovered a Valentine’s Day present which my wife had given me in February (that being the traditional month for such exchanges, of course).
Before you judge me, and assume I had cruelly discarded the gift, it’s not that I hadn’t appreciated it at the time, more that I had put it somewhere safe, where I wouldn’t forget about it.
Then I forgot about it.
Here is the gift in question:
If you are unsure what it is, let me explain: it is a tin, filled with several mini packets of ‘Love Hearts’. If you’re still confused, as I expect some of my non-UK following may be, Love Hearts are small, heart-shaped sweets (or candy, for the Americans), with supposedly romantic phrases printed on them. Oh, and in case you were wondering why I had preserved the gift in white silk, that’s not my exact tin – I got that image from Google.
I say the phrases are ‘supposedly’ romantic, because it does of course depend on your own personal definition of romance. For example, some people may consider the phrase ‘all mine’ to be very endearing and cute, but I personally find it quite threatening. To me, telling someone they are all yours, is one step from sending them bits of your hair in the post, and then boiling their pet rabbit on the stove. ‘All mine’ is what Isaac shouts when there are Jaffa Cakes nearby.
I would also regard that particular message as a warning to all other potential love interests to back the fuck off. It’s the sort of Love Heart you want your partner to eat in public, so that everyone can see they are all yours. I can’t help thinking that Swizzels Matlow (the makers of Love Hearts), only went with ‘all mine’ as one of their chosen phrases, because ‘leave me, and I’ll cut your penis off and nail it to a wall’ didn’t fit (or the font would have been so tiny, it would have rendered the message utterly pointless).
This is by no means a criticism of my wife, because she cannot possibly have known what the individual messages inside the tin would say – other than having the general suspicion that some of them would be sickeningly cutesy. It was simply a romantic gesture, and the phrases printed onto the sweets entirely incidental. After all, it’s not like I am the kind of obsessive person who would read all the messages together, to try and discover any potential confectionery-based cypher she had planned:
“Erm, dear, are you trying to tell me something with these sweets? It’s just that the first five I have eaten so far had the messages ‘Oi You!’, ‘Why Not?’, ‘Get Me’, ‘A Drink?’ and ‘Cockwomble’ printed on them.”
Anyway, we are not the sort of couple who do romantic gestures very often, so I would never normally pay much attention to the messages on the sweets themselves, but as I was munching my way through a packet on Monday morning, something happened which caused me to take notice.
Basically, I decided it would be rude not to offer a packet to the two colleagues I share an office with, but only my male colleague accepted. Having given him a pack, I started to worry that some of the phrases might be inappropriate for our continued working relationship. After all, I haven’t eaten Love Hearts in years, and with this being a limited-edition Valentine’s Day tin, what if they had created a series of one-off sweets to mark the occasion? It would be rather difficult for us to move on professionally, if I had just handed him a sweet with ‘Ride Me Big Boy’ printed across it. I didn’t want him getting the wrong idea.
I frantically started checking my own half-eaten packet, to see what Swizzels Matlow deem romantic these days, and I was utterly shocked.
It’s not that they have gone all risqué and ‘50 Shades…’, as I had first feared, but they have nevertheless ‘updated’ the sweets for the modern market and, worse, made some of them regional.
Genuinely, the first few I encountered had the phrases ‘Wicked’, ‘Alreet Pet’ and ‘Totes Hilar’ printed on them. Who did they consult in their marketing campaign, Liam Gallagher, Sarah Millican and Joey Essex?
Ok, ‘Wicked’ is quite endearing I suppose (so long as the recipient is old enough to be familiar with the early-1990’s interpretation of the word, and doesn’t assume you are calling them evil), but ‘Alreet Pet’ and ‘Totes Hilar’? Seriously? I haven’t got through all the packets yet, but it can only be a matter of time before I discover ‘Sorted, Our Kid’, ‘Ay Up Me Duck’, and ‘Safe Bruv, Safe’.
My outrage at these ridiculous sweets, was only surpassed by the anger that I had inadvertently eaten most of the evidence. However, having once again ventured into the dark underbelly of Google Images, I’ve found an example of some of the new phrases as proof:
Let’s analyse these, shall we?
‘Cwtch Me’ – I had never encountered this phrase until a short while ago, and my first reaction was that it was supposed to say Catch Me (W and A are next to each other on a keyboard, after all). Anyway, having checked online, cwtch is apparently a Welsh word meaning ‘cuddle’ or ‘hug’ (because the Welsh are allergic to vowels).
‘Alreet Pet’ – Another example of a Love Heart being irrelevant to 95% of the population. Why are Swizzels Matlow directing their marketing solely towards the Welsh Valleys and North East? Why not aim some sweets towards people from Manchester (Nice One, Knobhead), Birmingham (Yom Bostin’) or London (You Fackin’ Muggin’ Me Off, Darlin’?). They’ve alienated the majority of Britain here.
‘Marry Me?’ – Ridiculously specific, and can only really be used once. Besides, the sort of person who uses a Love Heart to propose is, with all due respect, a complete tool you are better off avoiding.
‘Think Pink’ – I can’t decide whether this is aimed at expectant couples who really want a baby daughter (and think the power of positive-mental-attitude-via-candy will help), or whether it is intended to raise Breast Cancer awareness. I do hope it’s the latter, as this would at least render the sweets worthwhile (although it would somewhat detract from the supposedly light-hearted nature of the messages, in the same way that ‘Check Your Balls, Lads’ wouldn’t really be appropriate either).
‘60 Years of Love’ – Bloody hell. If we thought ‘Marry Me’ was specific, this has got to be some kind of joke. Not only does this sweet only work for a specific twelve-month period in any particular relationship, but they’re now manufacturing thousands of little sweets aimed solely at people in their seventies upwards. Which begs the question: which septuagenarians, octogenarians, and nonagenarians are buying cute little sweets for their partners? Not many, I should imagine.
‘Miracles Happen’ – Well, yes, if people who have been together for exactly sixty years (not fifty-nine, not sixty-one, but precisely sixty) are your target audience, and you hope to sell sufficient quantities of romantic sweets to make your company profitable, you’ll need a fucking miracle.
‘Hot Wheels’ – Give me strength. Unless this is a new-fangled way of telling someone that you find them attractive (‘Look at the pair of hot wheels on that!’), then this is completely ridiculous, and assumes people are only interested in potential partners for the car they drive. Which, unless you happen to live in Alderley Edge and are married to a footballer, you almost certainly are not.
‘Skype Me!’ – I’m not sure which part of this I dislike the most: the suggestion that Skype is now the favoured method of courtship among young couples (assuming they don’t live far apart, in which case I am prepared to retract that comment slightly), or the implied threat of the exclamation mark at the end. If you are that desperate for your loved one to contact you via Skype, how about you send them a text (or, better still, Skype them), rather than sending a packet of sweets, hoping this particular message will be inside?
‘Swipe Right’ – Look, it’s bad enough that your partner has an apparent toileting problem, which persistently leaves one of their bum cheeks partially-smeared following a drop off, but to broadcast it via confectionery? Get a grip (which, incidentally, is another sweet I have just encountered in my current packet).
‘YOLO’ – Not just a cringe-worthy acronym for ‘You Only Live Once’, created by the Y2K generation to irritate anyone born before 1999, but a timely reminder that we are all on a downward slope to our impending deaths, and every decision that we ever make is probably the wrong one. They might as well have labelled these sweets ‘Regret Everything, Then Die’.
‘Take a Selfie’ – I can only presume Swizzels Matlow settled on this phrase, because their lawyers advised against ‘WhatsApp Me A Picture of Your Boobs/Willy’. That Y2K shower have a lot to answer for, with their relentless sexting and whatnot.
‘Tweet Me’ – Back to the Skype argument again. Look, if you want someone to tweet you, would it not make more sense to, oh, I don’t know, stop being so fucking lazy and tweet them? Unless this is another modern phrase I am unaccustomed with, which refers to getting jiggy with it.
In conclusion, this latest confectionery abomination is yet another example of chocolatiers and sweet manufacturers failing to consult me – or at least someone of equal intelligence – before rushing headlong into a marketing catastrophe.
I understand that products need to be updated sometimes, but had Swizzels Matlow set me with the brief of modernising Love Hearts (whilst still maintaining a romantic theme), my suggestions would have been far more appropriate/accurate:
Quick, The Kids Are Asleep!
Not Tonight, I Have a Headache
And, my personal favourite:
You Have Three Minutes, Then I’m Going to Sleep.
I hope Swizzels Matlow are proud of themselves.
(Oh, ok, the ‘hot wheels’ one makes more sense now: it’s clearly aimed at the disabled. Because that’s not inappropriate….)