Slate writes that vindictive Valentine’s cards, mailed anonymously, were once as popular as romantic ones. Is it time to bring back the tradition?
These “vinegar valentines” were produced between the middle of the 19th century and middle of the 20th. The tradition was quite popular. Some historians argue that comic valentines—of which vinegar valentines were one type—made up half of all U.S. valentine sales in the middle of the 19th century.
Vinegar valentines were a socially sanctioned chance to criticize, reject, and insult. They were often sent without a signature, enabling the sender to speak without fear. These cards were sent not just to significant others, friends, and family but to a larger social circle. People might post a vinegar card to a store clerk, a teacher, or a neighbor.