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Sometimes you just need a sweet, and Valentine ’s Day only comes once a year. What’s a body to do? Well, you celebrate the National Sweetest Day of course! Like Valentine’s day, this day is known for its distribution of sweets in heart-shaped boxes, and a recognition of the love of candy.

History of National Sweetest Day

On October 8, 1921, Cleveland Confectioners came together to create a new day to celebrate the people’s love of candy and each other. On the first celebration of this day 20,000 boxes of candy were distributed throughout the city, everyone from newsboys, old folks, the poor, and orphans were gifted with delicious treats to help make it the “National Sweetest Day” of the year for them.

From there, the idea spread through big cities like New York and Detroit, expanding in popularity and importance as the years went on. In the early years, National Sweetest Day was fundamentally a commercial operation. The idea was to try to get as many people to enjoy sweets and associate them with specific times of the year geared towards celebrations. In 1922, for instance, candy manufacturers took the idea of Sweetness Day forward in New York City, hoping to drum up interest in their confectionery products.

Just a few years later, in 1927, the New York Times decreed that there would be a Sweetest Week. A decade later, the same newspaper announced that representatives from the industry were trying to get National Sweetest Day to rank alongside other significant events in the calendar, such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.

Through various promotions, National Sweetest Day has gone on to become a popular choice for charity drives, including by organizations like the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children, starting as early as October 17, 1940.

For some, the original intention of the manufacturers paid off significantly. National Sweetest Day didn’t replace some of the big events in the calendar, but it did become associated with them. Now the vast majority of people think of confectionery alongside popular dates, such as Valentine’s Day. Many cities host their own National Sweetest Day, especially if they play host to a candy manufacturer.

At root, though, National Sweetest Day isn’t just about consuming as many chocolates as you can. Instead, it is about love. The original developers of the concept took it upon themselves to distribute candy to the neediest in society. And this spirit of giving remains. People traditionally celebrate the day by eating confectionery and sharing it with the people they love to show that they care. Romantic couples often use the event as an excuse to indulge in a little gift-giving.

You should note, however, that National Sweetest Day and Valentine’s Day are not the same things. The former is about sharing love with everyone in your life, while the latter is solely about focusing on your romantic partner.

National Sweetest Day Timeline


Sweetest Day is invented 

Herbert Birch Kingston, employee of a candy company in Cleveland, Ohio, wants to bring happiness to the lives of those who are often forgotten, so he creates this day.[1]


Film stars get involved with Sweetest Day 

Movie stars, such as Ann Pennington and Theda Bara, celebrate the day by giving out sweets and boxes of candy to hospital patients, newspaper boys, theater goers and more.


Hallmark first makes cards for Sweetest Day 

Before this, the celebration was a grassroots movement in the Midwestern United States, but as Hallmark begins making cards, the day expands.[2]


U2’s song “Sweetest Thing” is distributed

Originally released on the B side of “Where the Streets Have No Name”, the song “Sweetest Thing” is a number one hit in Ireland and Canada.[3]


The Sweetest Thing film is released 

Starring Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate and Thomas Jane, this rom-com ranks highly Ebert & Roper’s Big Stars in Big Bombs, but Cameron Diaz’s career doesn’t seem to suffer for it.[4]

How to celebrate National Sweetest Day

The simplest way to celebrate National Sweetest Day is to indulge your sweet-tooth and buy your favorite treat. An even better idea is to share it with someone who loves it as much as you do! Bring in a box of treats for your co-workers, or surprise your sweetie with their favorite sugary indulgence.

If you’re feeling truly ambitious, you can coordinate with a local charity to help do a sweets drive to generate money for them. Candy is always a popular item for charity drives, and if you contact the creator of these confectionary delights, you can probably get them at a heavily discounted price for use in charity drives.

Another idea is to send out National Sweetest Day cards. Currently, several popular card sellers offer themed cards for the day, allowing you to write messages to people you care about and remind them of the event. You might even want to design and create your own chocolates at home with a unique theme. Making unique and interesting flavors is a lot of fun.

Remember, you don’t have to limit yourself to sending candy on National Sweetest Day. Other sweet treats are allowed too. Yes, confectioners originally invented the day to promote their commercial chocolates and sweets. But it has since become a different animal, with regular people sharing anything that might be considered sweet. Cupcakes, cookies, and even pastries are all permitted under the rules. Celebrating National Sweetest Day can be a creative experience.

Because the original purpose of National Sweetest Day was charitable, you might think about using the day to give something back. In the past, philanthropists wanted to ensure that vulnerable individuals in the local community had enjoyment in their lives. Candy was an expression of that impulse, but it is by no means the only way to do so. For you, National Sweetest Day could involve providing food to the needy and vulnerable, or offering money to charities who take care of them in your city.

Finally, you can just buy candy and distribute it like a reverse Halloween, handing out candy to friends, co-workers, and random people on the street to remind them to have the National Sweetest Day of the year.

Now, doesn’t that sound like fun?

National Sweetest Day FAQs

Is Sweetest Day celebrated everywhere?

While it is certainly growing from its midwestern roots, Sweetest Day still seems to be mostly celebrated in the United States.[1]

What is the sweetest thing in the world?

The sweetest compound in the world is a protein known as Thaumatin, which was first found in the katemfe fruits in West Africa and can be 2000 times sweeter than sucrose.[2]

Is Sweetest Day for guys?

Of course, anyone is allowed to celebrate! But traditionally Sweetest Day is for women to show the men in their lives how much they appreciate them.[3]

Where did Sweetest Day originate?

Sweetest Day started in Cleveland, Ohio when a candy company employee wanted to share sweets with those who don’t normally receive them.[4]

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