Sweet Nothing

Cleveland, Ohio sits proudly on the south shore of Lake Erie but has long been considered one of the least desirable locales in America. Shuttered steel mills, miserable weather, and a floundering economy don’t paint a pretty picture. But Cleveland does have an upside. It hosts the iconic Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Hundreds of thousands flock to its international film festival. And the Cleveland Browns – long the doormat of professional football – just completed their first winning season in over a decade.  Alas, music, movies, and sports don’t erase mistakes… not when a city lays claim to a “holiday” called Sweetest Day.

Tape a big round target to my computer monitor and hand me a bazooka, because I’m about to blow the Sweetest Day bullseye into bits you’ll need a microscope to see.  The redeeming qualities of this celebration amount to little more than sweet nothings. I mean, how bad is it when your holiday is not only labeled a “Hallmark”, but popular opinion says it’s the worst of that lot?

A Hallmark Holiday.  By definition it’s a celebration with no more substance than a push to buy a greeting card.  Boss’s Day (Oct. 16th).  Administrative Professionals’ Day (April 27th).  Teacher Appreciation Day (May 3rd).  There’s even Clergy Appreciation Day (Oct. 10th).  Sweetest Day lands at the very bottom of this feathery-light pile.  Please, can we just leave it buried there?

“Hallmark Holiday”

It wasn’t always this way with Sweetest Day.  Wait… YES IT WAS.  Did you know we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the original Sweetest Day last Saturday?  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  The better question I should ask: Do you even know why we celebrate Sweetest Day?

No, I don’t celebrate Sweetest Day, but many of you in the “Great Lakes Region” do (eight midwestern U.S. states plus the Canadian province of Ontario).  For the rest of us, here’s the debatably sincere back story.  In 1921, twelve Cleveland candy company executives pooled their surplus product and gave away 20,000 boxes of candy “to newsboys, orphans, old folks, and the poor”, and literally manufactured a holiday in the process.  In the hundred years since, Sweetest Day has morphed from free candy for strangers to “… a day to share romantic deeds or expressions and acts of charity or kindness.”  With all due respect Cleveland, why do we need a “holiday” for romance or charity?

This is all your fault, Cleveland

When I first learned about Sweetest Day all I could come up with was Valentine’s Day 2.0.  I mean, how convenient, right?  We have the big day of romance in February so why not a little one (a really little one) in October?  Defenders of Sweetest Day say the two celebrations aren’t anything alike.  I agree.  Valentine’s Day was a Christian feast day designated over 2,500 years ago and celebrated throughout the world today.  Sweetest Day was a gimmick designed to sell candy (and cards) exactly 100 years ago and celebrated throughout… the Great Lakes Region.

Several failed attempts were made over the years to solidify Sweetest Day on the October calendar.  In 1922 the name was changed to “Candy Day” to see if it would generate more buzz (nope).  In 1927 they tried to make it Sweetest Week (nope again).  And in 1937, to make it more nationally accepted, they tried to advertise Sweetest Day on par with Mother’s, Father’s, and Valentine’s Day (this effort sponsored by, drum roll please… the National Confectioner’s Association).

None of this spinning of wheels stood in Hallmark’s way.  The greeting card company produces over 150 designs for Sweetest Day.  American Greetings joined the card party to make another 180.  Can you blame them when so many Great Lakes Region people are willing to buy?

All of my bazooka-blasting brings me to a fitting conclusion concerning Wikipedia (where I often find reference material).  Every Wikipedia article gets a rating of “quality” and another of “importance”, using a scale not so different from the one you had in grade school.  Wikipedia’s article on Sweetest Day – published seventeen years ago – gets a quality rating of, uh… has not yet received, and an importance rating of, uh… has not yet received.  In other words, nobody at Wikipedia cares enough to even rate the article.

Here’s an idea.  How about we just delete the Wikipedia article? (as one employee proposed two years after it was published).  For that matter, how about we just delete Sweetest Day?  I have my bazooka at the ready.

Some content sourced from Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia”.

20 thoughts on “Sweet Nothing

    1. I remember receiving a “Happy Boss’s Day” card from my employees at Hewlett-Packard when I worked there as a manager. Awkward, to say the least. My first thought was, “You all felt obligated to do this because the “day” showed up on someone’s calendar”. Nice gesture, but utterly forced 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve heard of sweetest day, usually mentioned on the car radio on the morning show, but I’ve yet to meet anyone who ever celebrated it. Or even bought a card, which makes me wonder how Hallmark stores even continue to survive?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. HA! I think it’s generally recognized here as a manufactured holiday. The only time I go into the Hallmark store (and yes we still have one in our mall although I wonder how it survives when cards are so much cheaper at the dollar store on the rare occasion I need one), is to get their pocket/purse calendars which they give out free every November and I’m fully prepared for them to discontinue those eventually what with everyone using their smart phones to keep tract of appointments. Maybe Hallmark makes their money from their movies now?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Greeting cards seem to run $4-$5 USD these days, which must be 90% more than they cost to manufacture. People need to wake up and realize they have options like Dollar Store or Hallmark will continue to reap the profits. But those movies – yes – those are the real source of Hallmark’s success. That was some reinvention of a company, eh?

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I must add here Lyssy, Go Irish! As a Notre Dame alum I’m programmed to dislike any team from the Big Ten. But hands tied I’ll choose MSU over all of the rest. You keep finding ways to beat us… 😦

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    1. I’d guess the 30-and-under crowd wouldn’t know a Mr. Goodbar if it was right in front of their face. That’s one of the good ones, Neil. Probably won’t make much of an appearance on Halloween tho’. Maybe the fun-size.

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  2. Ahhh, those Hallmark holidays and I didn’t do a Sweetest Day blog post this year … first, I didn’t find any squirrels or ducks making goo goo eyes at one another and second, unless you’re from the Midwest, you likely scratch your head when you read the post and ask “what is Sweetest Day?” I get that every year when I do a post. When the Hallmark holiday of “Grandparents Day” originated, I sent my grandmother a card – Canada did not celebrate this holiday and next time I talked to her, she said “thank you – what is that for Linda?” Now, you can use Shutterfly to create cards from your own photos (often they’ll give you 10 for free, but the shipping/handling is outrageous) or even the local pharmacy does this, totally online. Or you can do e-cards like Jacquie Lawson like I do, with many people I only keep up with on social media. Christmas cards with the annual handwritten Christmas letter is sadly a lost art now, isn’t it?

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    1. So Linda, your comment is the first (and perhaps the only) to spin Sweetest Day somewhat positive. Maybe if I also lived in Michigan or somewhere closer to Cincinnati I’d give the day more respect than a single blog post. Probably not. Valentine’s Day (and Valentine’s Day only) works just fine for me 🙂

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      1. Ha ha – I don’t think it is as big of a deal here as it once was. I never even hear ads for sweets or flowers and this year I heard nothing for National Bosses Day which is every October 16th and you referenced it in your post.

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