The TV sitcom Friends ended in 2004, nearly 20 years ago, yet it lives on in popular culture. Kids who weren't even born when Joey, Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler and Phoebe first stumbled into Central Perk have hoovered up the entire series, and there was enough interest that a was a hit for HBO Max. Could this decades-old show BE any more trendy?
Yes, yes it could. Candy maker Brach's has now released Friends-themed candy conversation hearts, and they'd seem an ideal gift if your valentine (sorry--your "lobster") constantly quotes such lines as "PIVOT!" and "We were ON A BREAK!"
Brach's sent me a free sample of the Friends candy hearts. (Brach's isn't the only company that makes heart-shaped sugar candy imprinted with phrases, but they're the only ones with the Friends connection.)
While I've never been a fan of this particular candy, I had to try them. Hey, they had to be better than Rachel's Thanksgiving trifle, where she mistakenly added a layer of beef into the traditional English dessert.
'Friends' conversation hearts review: Sayings are blurry
I dumped out a bag of the Friends conversation hearts -- sure, to try their flavors, but mainly to check out their sayings. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, but the printing is about as well thought out as Ross' plans to move a couch. Which is to say, terrible.
It's got to be hard to print words on tiny sugar hearts, but these look like they were stamped out by an impatient 4-year-old who didn't really care if the entire phrase got anywhere near the candy. Letters trailed off, phrases were stamped way off on one side, some hearts were blank, other wording was so faded it couldn't be read.
And I get it! This is difficult! Still, pawing through the Friends candy hearts reminded me of the Expectation vs. Reality subreddit, where people share photos comparing what a food or other item was supposed to look like versus what it does look like.
The makers also had to choose words or phrases that fit on the tiny space of a candy heart, yet were easily recognizable as being from Friends.
Some were just names, or shortened names, like ROSS, JOEY, RCHL for Rachel, PHBE for Phoebe. I stared at MNCA for way too long thinking it was some abbreviated show reference, then finally clued in it stood for Monica. CHDLR is Chandler, but honestly, since the D reads like an O, it looks like a misspelling of CHOLERA.
Some hearts gamely tried to fit entire Friends catchphrases onto the candy. The best one is probably PIVOT from the aforementioned couch scene, or ON A BREAK, from when Ross tried to defend cheating on Rachel. OH MY GAWD immediately calls to mind the nasally voice of Chandler's ex, Janice. LBSTR works, too, thanks to Phoebe declaring that R&R were each other's lobsters, and THE 1 WITH is a nice choice, since all the episodes were named "The One With...(Something)." I also liked HOW U DOIN, Joey's famous catchphrase.
And of course, a number of the hearts came through blank, or with something illegible or faded stamped on them. Do not expect perfection in the candy heart business.
Flavors: Pineapple's the best
The new Friends hearts claim some truly wild flavors -- cherry, watermelon, strawberry, pineapple, orange and blueberry. Cherry and orange conversation hearts have been around in the classic conversation-heart mixes, but the other flavors are all new.
Again, no high expectations here, as I've eaten candy hearts before and they do kind of taste like tropical drywall.
But the yellow pineapple flavor actually was pretty good, with just an edge of that sweet tropical fruit. It was the one color heart I kept going back to nibble.
Green is supposed to be watermelon, and the tartness that's a part of all watermelon candy, if not the fruit itself, definitely came across.
Blue is blueberry, and yes, I got a tinge of that.
Orange hearts are orange, but just tasted like sugar.
There are two different pink colorations, dark for cherry, and light for strawberry. Honestly, I couldn't tell them apart, in color or flavor. They both kind of tasted like baby aspirin.
Where to buy Friends conversation hearts?
You can pretty much find the Friends hearts everywhere in the US now, both online and in grocery stores, convenience stores and at other retailers. Online, I spotted them for sale at Walgreen's, Safeway, Michael's craft stores and other businesses.
They're also cheap -- Safeway touts a 6-ounce bag (170 grams) for just $2 (£1.62, AU$2.85). Get them soon, though, as they're a limited-edition candy, and a rep for Brach's tells me they'll only be around through Valentine's Day.
It's going to be tough to, say, set a Friends conversation heart on someone's desk and have them be able to read and understand it, or even make the Friends connection at all. If you know a Friends fanatic, better to give them the whole bag, which uses the Friends font and a picture of a couch to get the relationship across.
Joey famously doesn't share food, but you can.