Blog | Sweetest Day: Holiday or retail sales push?

11:04 AM, Oct 19, 2013   |    comments
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Depending on where you live, today is Sweetest Day. Do you celebrate it or consider it a "Hallmark holiday"?

Did you know Sweetest Day originated in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1921? Ohio still tops the list in sales of Sweetest Day cards, but other states on the top ten list include California, Florida and Texas.

But sending cards in this day of the Internet is not as popular as even the more retro handful of flowers or nice dinner out at a favorite restaurant. Sure, there have been lots of Sweetest Day greetings on Facebook and Twitter today as well, but celebrating it has waned over the years.

OK, here's the facts, for those like a reporter friend in Knoxville who has lived, as he put it, "below the Mason-Dixon line all my life."

Sweetest Day, observed on the third Saturday of October, was started in Cleveland on Oct. 8, 1921 by candy employee and philanthropist, Herbert Birch Kingston as a way to give something or do something nice to those less fortunate.

Originally called "The Sweetest Day of the Year," Sweetest Day has evolved into a romantic holiday, similar to Valentine's Day.

In 1921, with the help of movie stars, Theda Bara and Ann Pennington, Kingston delivered thousands of boxes of candy throughout the city.

Remember, this was during the bleak economic times just before the Great Depression began in 1930. The less fortunate probably didn't care about WHY it started.

Although it started as a regional holiday, Clevelanders have taken the custom with them as they moved around the country. It's like a little bit of Ohio kindness being spread around.

Now, when the cynics rebel, saying the day was invented by commercial interests which stood to profit from such a holiday, they refer to it as a "Hallmark holiday."

That's kind of a generic slam because, first of all, it was not invented by the Hallmark Cards company. If they were really sharp and on point, they would have called it an "American Greetings holiday," although that wouldn't have been as alliterative.

Why AG? Because Brooklyn, Ohio, adjacent to Cleveland, is the world headquarters for American Greetings, founded in 1906.

So, that being said, know that, by sheer coincidence, I was rummaging in some basement boxes Friday night, looking for something totally unrelated to Sweetest Day. What should I find but a Sweetest Day card from my first year in college from my "sweetie."

I held it for a minute, then turned to look at the back of it. Sure enough, it was made by American Greetings. That made me smile even more.

So don't dismiss the day callously because it really started with all the best of intentions.

Be nice to someone today, whether they are your "sweetie" or not. Pick up the phone and tell them you are thinking about them. That will bring a smile to their face.


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