A Call for Candy-Free Valentines

by Sally on February 4, 2014

Valentine's Day

Remember Valentine’s Day as a kid? If your school was anything like mine, you found an old shoebox, cut a slot in the top, and decorated it with paper doilies and puffy heart stickers. You stationed it on your desk at school and made the rounds in the classroom, giggling and dropping valentines in your friends’ shoeboxes. The “room moms” gave everyone a Dixie cup of cherry Kool-Aid and a homemade cupcake. And when you had delivered your last card and licked the frosting from your fingers, you opened your shoebox and pored over the valentines, some of which were handmade, and all of which seemed very, very special.

For my kids, Valentine’s Day still looks a lot like that. They decorate shoeboxes. The room parents still plan a class party that usually includes a treat. But the valentines? Candy manufacturers seem to have highjacked those. There are now Blow Pop Valentines and Fun Dip Valentines. There are gummy fruit snack pouches and little boxes of Nerds you can write on–so you don’t even need paper valentines anymore. Last year my kids’ shoeboxes looked more like Trick-or-Treat than Valentine’s Day (Read “I Have No Love for Candy Valentines“).

I’m not against candy on Valentine’s Day. In years past, I’ve bought small, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates for my kids on the holiday. Chocolate and Valentine’s Day are practically synonymous, I get it (and as a chocolate lover myself, I’m okay with it). What I’m against is food manufacturers finding yet another way to push even more of their candy and junk onto families. It’s all about marketing. It’s all about money. And it doesn’t do our kids any good (especially the ones with life-threatening food allergies).

If you agree, I hope you’ll check out this post from School Bites, which urges parents to avoid buying candy valentines this year–and to spread the word to other parents, to teachers, and to the school’s principal and PTA. She even includes a sample email you can send to your child’s teacher or principal if you’d like to see class valentines go back to basics.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about candy valentines, so please share them.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Stacy @School-Bites.com February 4, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Thank you so much for sharing, Sally!! I’m not against candy on Valentine’s Day, either. I still have fond memories of the few foil-wrapped chocolate hearts and gum drops (purchased from our local chocolate shop) that I got as a kid (probably because we didn’t get them all the time!). However, I’m not a fan of the mountain of industrial candy that comes home from school, and I just don’t think school is the place to be handing it out. I want to take back my right to give sweets to my own kids–in moderation! LOVING your blog–you always inspire me!

Sally February 4, 2014 at 2:06 pm

You’re welcome Stacy, glad to help. Here’s hoping your pledge changes some minds this year! You make an important point that when kids get a lot of candy from other places, it makes it harder for parents to feel like they can include those foods as well.

Hanna Saltzman February 6, 2014 at 11:57 am

I totally agree with you that the day has become a marketing scheme (not to mention that those candy valentines were already in drugstores weeks ago, which I can only assume leads to lots of pre-valentine’s candy gorging!). But those homemade valentines in elementary school were the best, along with the couple pieces of heart-shaped chocolate I got… and I think kids today also should get those fond memories of the whole experience (not just of loads of candy). On that note, maybe I’ll make some shoebox cards for folks in our office this year! :-)

Sally February 6, 2014 at 2:28 pm

Hanna–Yes, chocolate will definitely be part of my kids’ Valentine’s Day, but I’d love to avoid a heap of Smarties and lollipops too. Wish I could say my kids are making homemade valentines but they don’t have the craft inclinations (and I don’t think I have the patience to help them make 50 valentines between them). Just getting them to write their names on all of them will be a whole evening’s event. :)

misszippy February 10, 2014 at 4:01 pm

YES! It’s so out of control. My daughter is one of the only ones, it seems, to hand out candy-free valentines. I don’t see why it becomes necessary to add sugar to the equation–they’re going to get plenty from school parties, etc. Enough!

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