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What is Sweetest Day?

Candy was the first treat given in 1922 by Herbert Birch Kingston, a confectioner from Cleveland, Ohio.
Herbert Birch Kingston created Sweetest Day to give attention to all the underprivileged children and other members of society.
Fine chocolates make a good gift for Sweetest Day.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 11 August 2014
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Many people are familiar with Valentine’s Day, a day traditionally reserved for expressing romantic and familial love, often with chocolates. Sweetest Day is a tradition somewhat similar. Yet it was especially designed to express love and care for those who were routinely neglected by society.

Sweetest Day was the brainchild of Herbert Birch Kingston, who worked for a confectioner company in Cleveland, Ohio. He felt that there were plenty of children, especially orphans and poor kids, who didn’t necessarily get the attention they deserved. Thus in 1922, he inaugurated the first Sweetest Day to give out boxes of candy to mainly underprivileged children.

Since the day picked was the third Saturday in October, this became the traditional time to celebrate Sweetest Day. Among those distributing candy were community activists, several prominent actresses, and of course Kingston. The tradition was so enjoyed that people often looked beyond philanthropy to treating their own friends or family to treats on Sweetest Day.

In the US, Sweetest Day is celebrated primarily in the Northeastern region of the US, still on the third Saturday of October. Yet news of the tradition, which began nearly 100 years ago, has spread to other parts of the country, especially as people who lived in those areas moved elsewhere. People may distribute candy or small gifts to those in convalescent homes, hospitals, foster homes, or mental institutions, and they may also treat friends and family to little gifts from the heart.

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In keeping with the original tradition, celebrating Sweetest Day should really be most focused on people who ordinarily don’t have the good fortune of attention from friends or family, either due to difficult family circumstances or to poverty. This can be a great tradition to start if your community doesn’t routinely celebrate the day, and there are many candy manufacturers that are willing to help donate or reduce costs on gifts intended for people in unfortunate circumstances.

Though Thanksgiving is often a time when people are most generous with gifts of food to the poor, Sweetest Day, occurring a month sooner, can get the ball rolling on charitable giving, and remind folks that the less fortunate tend to need assistance year round. Children are often charmed by this holiday, and are excellent at organizing drives to help others. If you have a few kids that are looking for a good community project, helping kids organize Sweetest Days and teaching them about its history is likely to result in avid participation.

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Discuss this Article

giddion
Post 7

This holiday is pretty close to Halloween. I wonder how many people just buy Halloween candy and give that out instead of buying a box of really good chocolates.

I suppose that most underprivileged kids wouldn't care what kind of candy they got. I know I would have appreciated any sweets when I was little.

JackWhack
Post 6

@Perdido – Sure, there are greeting cards for this day. They might be a little harder to find than cards for other occasions, but you can get them and send them online.

Another option for someone who is diabetic or on a diet of some sort would be a gift card. You could get a preloaded credit card, and that way, they could spend it wherever they wished.

I do think it's a little risky to just give out candy to people you don't know. You might be putting them at risk of a seizure or something.

Perdido
Post 5

I have never heard of this day before. Is candy always given, or is there such a thing as Sweetest Day cards? I'm thinking that there must be something that you can give diabetic people in place of candy.

anon222411
Post 4

@tdwb7476: You shouldn't sully Mr. Kingston's memory with your cynicism. You clearly didn't read the article if you think this holiday was "created to increase sales." Why do people have to come along and spread ugliness over a lovely story like this?

anon55032
Post 3

I'd like to think that holidays such as this, as well as the more celebrated holidays, started out as an innocent idea or with a deep meaning. Over the years, the holidays have become about material items, sales, etc. At times, I think we have forgotten the origin of our holidays. Maybe we all need a refresher so we can get back to the true meaning of our celebrated holidays.

tdwb7476
Post 2

Call me cynical but it seems like the Sweetest Day was created to increase sales. I suppose much like most commercial holidays have become (e.g., Halloween, Valentine's Day, and Christmas). In that way, this Kingston fellow was ahead of his time!

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