When Stover Met Hall: The Story of Valentine’s Day
Today is Valentine’s Day which is a holiday celebrated by many and hated by others and also one that few really know how it came about.
You might read about these deep dark beginnings before romance and love came into play around the 14th century. Since nobody is around to confirm the accuracy of how February 14th became a holiday let’s go with what we do know.
It was in the 1930s when a candy entrepreneur by the name of Russell Stover was trying to come up with ideas for increasing sales between Christmas and Easter. Those were his two best holidays but the time in between was rough especially in his home base of Kansas City. Ironically that’s where Joyce Hall founded a greeting card company that would later be named Hallmark.
Legend has it that the two met and conspired to create a make-believe holiday to help spark business during February. In the beginning of their version of Valentine’s Day it was common to give a card and a box of heart-shaped chocolates to a loved one and clearly Stover and Hall benefitted greatly.
Later florists jumped in because they saw an opportunity to capitalize on this and today more than 200 million roses will be sold with red the most popular. Not to be outdone were jewelry stores who made men feel guilty if they didn’t buy something special or maybe use the day to pop the question which of course comes with a diamond ring.
Of course whether it was a card, candy, flowers or jewelry it wasn’t truly special unless you also celebrated by going out to dinner.
Put it all together and you have the somewhat true (?) story of how Valentine’s Day started and got to where it is today. For many their first memory is when you were a child exchanging cards with kids in your class. You know the ones that were signed with someone’s full name or at least first name and last initial.
That was also when you might have had your heart broken for the first time because the pretty girl in your class either didn’t give you a card or just signed it with her name while another boy got one with the hugs and kisses picture.
I really don’t know how the holiday started but I do know this. There will be guys trying to find a card or gift at the last minute today because they forgot and if they come up empty then they’ll come home to a modern version of the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre.