AI Attempts To Design Candy Love Hearts And We’re Not Sure They’d Win Your Sweetheart


Rachael Funnell

Digital Content Producer

clockFeb 26 2021, 14:33 UTC
AI love hearts

This year, say it with bath towels. Image courtesy of Janelle Shane

Technology has seen the human race dare mighty things from putting a robot on Mars to reinventing the bus. We’ve even created artificial intelligence in the form of neural networks which can be tasked with creating their own scenes from the Great British Bake Off or critiquing your art.

Blogger and Research Scientist in optics Janelle Shane has carried out several illuminating experiments into the efficacy of neural networks in crafting its own designs and slogans, and most recently tried it out on the popular Valentine’s Day candy Love Hearts. These hard, disc-shaped sherbet treats usually read phrases like “Love Bug” or “Kiss Me,” but Shane’s experiments yielded some unconventional suggestions.


In the first approach, Shane took a neural net with no understanding of English and showed it 366 Love Heart candy messages, then asked it to imitate them. Highlights from the results included “STANK LOVE” and “LOVE 2000 HOGS YEA,” which would likely raise some eyebrows if you started handing them out like candy.

A second experiment took a different approach, using a GPT-2 neural network which already had an established understanding of English having scanned millions of web pages. The AI in this experiment would come up with its slogans not by studying lots of Love Hearts but by predicting a phrase in English which would follow existing cady slogans.

“Keep in mind that this was not a neural net specially trained on candy hearts,” wrote Shane on her blog. “What I was doing was kind of like walking up to someone and shouting “HOT STUFF! COOL DUDE! LOVE BIRD! CALL ME! WHIZ KID! AS IF!” That would be confusing to anyone, but really, it was still a bit strange of the neural net to respond by shouting “LUBRICANT!”.

“Did it have any idea what was going on? Probably not... Even when I gave it a clue and prefaced its prompt with “These are some candy heart messages:” it still didn’t seem to know what it was doing.”

AI love hearts
Personally, I find "Beware of our bottom layer" to be quite profound. Images courtesy of Janelle Shane

Aware or not, the results were once again something to behold. Favorites include; HOT STUFF MY BODY IS; MESSAGE FROM A CRYPT SAYING ITS NICE TO SEE YOU SENDING ME A FRIENDLETTER; AMERICAN OCEAN CABBAGE DELIGHT and ON THAT NOTE, may I offer you a cookie?

In a third experiment, Shane thought she’d try the neural network’s hand at crafting Love Hearts this time from images. “Methods of generating custom images from descriptions are getting better all the time. Could I use modern machine learning to generate new candy hearts?” wrote Shane on her blog. “The answer is no.”

AI love hearts
If someone offers you this in a nightclub, don't take it. Images courtesy of Janelle Shane

After looking at several pictures of Love Hearts, the neural network tried to churn out some of its own and it’s safe to say the resulting products didn’t look in the least bit appetizing. Resembling necrotic marshmallows like a box of Lucky Charms fresh out of Chernobyl, the candy-turned-tumors look as if they should carry a heavy carcinogens warning.

So... what do you say, Swizzels Marlow Ltd.? Something for your next marketing campaign I’m sure.