Sweetest Day commonly involves men giving their wife or girlfriends candy. While it is not as large or widely observed as Valentine's Day, it is still celebrated in parts of the United States, despite persistent allegations of being a "Hallmark holiday."
Observed the 3rd Saturday in the month of October, Sweetest Day observance originated in Cleveland in 1922. Herbert Birch Kingston, a philanthropist and candy company employee wanted to bring happiness into the lives of orphans, shut-ins and others who were forgotten. With the help of friends, he began to distribute candy and small gifts to the underprivileged.
On the first Sweetest Day, movie star Ann Pennington presented 2,200 Cleveland newspaper boys with boxes of candy to express gratitude for their service to the public.
Another popular movie star, Theda Bara, distributed 10,000 boxes of candy to people in Cleveland hospitals and also gave candy to all who came to watch her film in a local theater.
Primarily a regional observance celebrated in the Great Lakes region and the Northeast, Sweetest Day is gradually spreading to other areas of the country. People tend to take the Sweetest Day tradition with them when they move. Ohio is the top state for Sweetest Day sales, followed by Michigan and Illinois. Texas, California and Florida are among the top 10 states in sales.
Over the years, Sweetest Day has evolved into a time to express romantic love and also to show appreciation to friends.