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New York Times
11 Feb 2023

NextImg:Valentine’s Day

Of course there’s a method to the madness of conversation hearts. Long before the candies hit drugstore shelves (a seasonal harbinger of spring that I continue to appreciate), candy companies refine their messaging, dispensing with dated slang like FAX ME and introducing new terms of endearment like BAE, as Kim Severson reported in The Times this week. Once, in the late ’90s or thereabouts, I received a little pastel heart with the words DEFRAG ME printed on it. Silly, but also touching: Reorganize me, improve my performance, make me make sense.

I like imagining a candy conglomerate’s attempts to universalize the language of love. What are the precise combinations of words that make people feel adored? It’s tricky. Last year, one of the major conversation heart manufacturers went with a supportive theme — I wish I’d seen the one that said FEAR LESS, a powerful directive to receive from a candy. This year, it’s going with a pet theme, acknowledging all those now-adolescent pandemic puppies howling into the midwinter afternoon while their owners are at work.

The most intimate terms of endearment don’t necessarily translate. Pet names and pillow talk often sound ridiculous when they spill past the boundaries of a whispered congress. Even so, that feeling you get when you hear people call their partners by their secret sobriquets is a potent mixture of alienating and thrilling. A weird window into other people’s intimacy, like being shown one page of their diary.

Candy hearts are the opposite. They’re broad, democratic, all-inclusive. Their messages are marvels of economy, limited to nine letters, fewer if there’s a W involved. PURR FECT might not have the same personal ring that an earnestly penned love letter does, but I’m cheered that people still write the hearts. How long until the candy companies let artificial intelligence determine the language of love? Let’s hope we have a few more years of BE MINE and SAY YES before the robots take over.

For more


Credit...Kevin Winter/Getty Images
  • Rihanna’s Super Bowl halftime show tomorrow will mark her return to music. Her mystique has only grown since her last album, The Times’s Lindsay Zoladz writes.

  • Beyoncé set a record for the most career Grammys, but she again missed taking home the night’s major awards. (Those went to Harry Styles and Lizzo.)

  • Bad Bunny’s opening act and Kim Petras’s moving speech about transgender existence were some of the highlights from the Grammys.

  • See the night’s red carpet looks and most over-the-top outfits.

  • Listen to The Guardian’s picks of the 10 best songs by Burt Bacharach, the famed pop composer who died this week.

  • Fans of LeBron James flew from around the world to see him break the N.B.A.’s career scoring record.

  • Gustavo Dudamel’s decision to become the conductor of the New York Philharmonic is a blow to Los Angeles, where he is a major public figure.

  • Jinger Duggar Vuolo, one of 19 children on a popular reality show, has become a voice for young adults re-examining their conservative Christian childhoods.

  • Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida gained control of a tax board overseeing development at Disney World, whose parent company he has long criticized.

  • Ronald Lauder will keep a Gustav Klimt painting he has owned after agreeing to repurchase it from the heirs of a Jewish woman who owned it before World War II.

  • Lawyers for Alec Baldwin argued that prosecutors based their charges against him on the wrong law in the shooting death of a cinematographer.

  • Artists are shining a light on abuses by the Iranian government, a curator says.

  • Bob Iger, Disney’s chief executive, announced a new organizational structure and roughly 7,000 layoffs in his first earnings call since returning to the company.

  • HarperCollins reached a tentative deal with striking workers that includes wage increases and a one-time bonus.


Credit...Libkos/Associated Press


???? “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” (Friday): I’ll admit, it’s a little odd to recommend this latest Marvel movie — the third in the franchise that stars Paul Rudd — like it’s some obscure film that needs an extra boost. Yet the primary appeal is the always compelling Jonathan Majors as a villain named … Kang the Conqueror. I’ll watch him in anything. (In less than a month, I’ll also be there for Majors in “Creed III.”)

???? “Unscripted: The Epic Battle for a Media Empire and the Redstone Family Legacy” (Tuesday): The New York Times journalists Rachel Abrams and James B. Stewart are behind this propulsive book about the final years of the Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone and the scandal that brought down the CBS head Leslie Moonves. As our reviewer Adam Davidson writes, it’s hard “to imagine anyone who reads this book not coming to some clear conclusions: Wealth and power can metastasize until they become toxic, destroying families, companies and countless lives.”


Credit...Julia Gartland for The New York Times

Chocolate Pudding With Raspberry Cream

Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday this year, which can be inconvenient if you want to whip up a homemade treat for your darling. But here’s Yossy Arefi to the rescue with her bittersweet chocolate puddings with raspberry cream. A pantry-friendly mix of cocoa, sugar, milk and eggs, it can be made almost entirely in advance. Stir the pudding together this weekend whenever you have half an hour to spare, then let it chill until Tuesday. The topping — a pretty-in-pink combination of whipped cream and fresh berries — is dolloped on just before serving. Fudgy, fruity and creamy, it’s a crowd-pleasing dessert that, on Valentine’s Day, is even better served for two.

A selection of New York Times recipes is available to all readers. Please consider a Cooking subscription for full access.


Credit...Aaron Leitz

A Brooklyn transformation: “If we were ever going to make a dream home, this would be it.”

Settling the estate: Can you buy your sibling’s share of a family house?

What you get for $370,000: A three-bedroom home in Indianapolis; a two-bedroom condominium in Waitsfield, Vt.; or an early 19th-century farmhouse in Washington, Ga.

The hunt: A couple just wanted an apartment with closets. Which Brooklyn condo did they choose? Play our game.


Credit...Gritchelle Fallesgon for The New York Times

Forget about crunches: Do “dead bugs” and other exercises for a chiseled six-pack.

Tinder or Hinge: People present themselves differently depending on the dating app.

Court style: Wear a pickleball dress.

Getting sleepy: Hypnotherapy can help with anxiety and depression.

Start with compliments: Many sex problems stem from poor communication.


Credit...Marilyn Ong

Make a romantic dinner

If Melissa Clark’s suggestion of pudding has you thinking about a Valentine’s Day meal, here’s an idea for dinner: Try firing up the burner for a cozy hot-pot meal. Preparing meats, greens and root vegetables in a simmering broth at the table is a lovely way to enjoy each other’s company. In Wirecutter’s guide to hot pot, experts recommend a portable butane or induction burner as a tabletop heat source and a wide, shallow pot. A Dutch oven, braiser or even well-seasoned wok work — or you could spring for a gorgeous split pot. Pour in a soup base, and treat your love to a slow, sumptuous feast. — Marilyn Ong



The pangram from yesterday’s Spelling Bee was fixable. Here is today’s puzzle.

Take the news quiz to see how well you followed this week’s headlines.

Here’s today’s Wordle.

Thanks for spending part of your weekend with The Times. — Melissa

Lauren Hard, Lauren Jackson, Claire Moses, Ian Prasad Philbrick, Tom Wright-Piersanti and Ashley Wu contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at

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