DETROIT (AP) -- Sweethearts -- those chalky little candies with messages on them -- won't be on store shelves this Valentine's Day.

The New England Confectionary Co. -- or Necco -- had been making the popular candies since 1886. But the company filed for bankruptcy protection last spring.

Ohio-based Spangler Candy Co. bought Necco in May. But Spangler said Thursday that it didn't have time to bring Sweethearts to market this Valentine's season.

CEO Kirk Vashaw said Spangler wants to make sure Sweethearts ``meet customer expectations'' when they return to market. He didn't say what changes Spangler plans to make or when they'll go back on sale.

Competitors like Brach's are still making conversation hearts. But online retailer CandyStore.com says Sweethearts were by far the most popular brand, commanding 80 percent of U.S. market for candy hearts.

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