happy Valentine’s day!you are ugly, i hate you, i wish you were dead

happy Valentine's day!you are ugly, i hate you, i wish you were dead

happy Valentine’s day!you are ugly, i hate you, i wish you were dead


Rochester, East Street, February 1885.

A young woman was lying on a couch in the living room, perhaps reading about the dedication of the Washington Monument in the newspaper, when she noticed a letter slipping through the mailbox on her front door.

She rushed over as soon as her corset would allow, hoping for a Valentine’s gift from a secret admirer. Emotional, she cut the seal, and what she found was not a love letter, but an unsigned so-called “Jealous Valentine’s Day”, depicting an ugly woman’s bitter rhyme to a song called “Silly Miss” comics.

A smile appears on your face/Open your mouth to your ear/You think, sweet as honey, no doubt/However, dear girl, it’s just funny.

We associate anonymous social mockery with the internet. But Naughty Cupid predates Twitter trolls by about 150 years.


The dastardly lover was all the rage in the Victorian era and in some years accounted for as much as half of the lover sold in the United States, according to news reports of the day.

They’re known by many names — “hit-’em-hards” and “poison darts” among them — but it’s the “Vinegar Valentine’s Day” label that exists because of the way its sour tingle tingles.

“We do this online every day today, inciting people to say whatever nasty things we want to say,” said Chris Bensch, vice president of collections and chief curator at the Strong National Games Museum. “But Valentine’s Day, for some misguided reason, people think that’s the day to really piss off people they don’t like, for many reasons.”

Curators hold up some Valentine's Day gifts from the collection

Chris Bensch, chief curator of The Strong National Museum of Play, examines “Vinegar Valentine” in the museum’s collection.

Many examples of vinegar Valentine’s Day have been forgotten by time. Not only do they tend to be printed on cheap paper, but who keeps a “Valentine’s Day” that says they have a face that only a mother would love?

But the museum houses many of these fallen lovers, stored in grey filing cabinets in the cool, dry paper storage room inside the building. They were collected by the museum’s benefactor, Margaret Woodbury Strong, although the curator believes she collects them like toys, not necessarily their recipient.

But who knows? In its heyday at the turn of the last century, Vinegar Valentines could be found for people of all classes and walks of life.

Despise the arrogant salesperson in the dry goods store? There is this:

When you wait for women/with disgust on your face/the way you growl and bark at them/people will think you own the place.

Doubt your mechanic? Send him this not-so-subtle message:

You’re always working on some car/it (sic) you’re always mixing parts/instead of a car, we think your head/ is in desperate need of repairs.

valentine's day painting

Powerful game museum

“I would say it’s more expressive than the generic ‘screw you’ kind of insult we give,” Bensch said. “Someone pays to write these rhymes.”

Vinegar was popular for about 100 years and sold for 1 cent to 5 cents, but it fell out of fashion in the 1940s. Scholars trace the origins of the practice back to the 1830s, but no one seems to be able to pinpoint why the novelty started.

New York Times The reason is speculated in a February 1871 article on the history of Valentine’s Day:

“The printed Valentine’s paper is about 140 years old, although it’s hard to pinpoint the exact time when the tender love words turned into rather vicious pasquinades. We assume some pigs were abandoned; a year later, the fairy changed her mind and sent A biting epigram for revenge.”

How much of a bite?

“I think it sucks,” Bensch said, flipping through a bunch of vicious lovers against everyone and everything, from women deemed too much makeup to men with hair loss.

See your shining head on all shows / Always in the bald / where you stand out for your tender care / Your true passion for that lone hair.

valentine's day painting

Powerful game museum

Many of them tried to stop people from straying from the social conventions of the times. For example, some in the series made fun of men taking their share of parenting, mocking them for being “afraid of chickens” and being feminine. Others’ descriptions of women’s appearance are vicious.

You have more curves than a roller coaster/Your clothes fit like gloves/There’s something wrong, glamour cat/You have a face that only a mother can love.

“Some of it, if I get it, it’s not just going to ruin my Valentine’s Day, it’s ruining my whole idea of ​​next year thinking that’s what people think of me,” Bensch said. “They’re just downright mean. There’s no other way to say it.”

Vinegar Valentine does more than ruin days and years. They ruin lives. They were linked to suicides, assaults and murders at the time.

Consider the fate of Margaret Craig, a domestic servant on Broadway in New York City in February 1847, who was recorded in several New York newspapers. She was so devastated by receiving a nasty Valentine’s Day gift from a man she thought was her love that she fatally overdosed on opium tincture, an opium tincture commonly used to treat pain.

In February 1900, the Associated Press reported the story of CW Stewart, a grocer in Charleston, West Virginia, who was shot and killed by his 19-year-old son. The son told police he was protecting his mother from his father, who accused his wife of giving him an offensive Valentine’s Day gift.

Perusing The Strong’s collection, one wonders if Stewart received the letter:

Look at that grocery store, this wicked old liar/We know you’re a liar/You’re a liar in church/Sunday at church, you’re religious, oh god/But on weekdays you’re still profiteering/You have in your sugar Sand, you give us the weight, your jam is adulterated/you sell something that isn’t real first grade stuff like the regular trash you’re rated for.

Vinegar Valentine

Powerful game museum

Brooklyn Daily Eagle In February 1880, a case involving two women was told in criminal court. “Mrs. Kilkold received two highly aggressive lovers, both describing her as a hypocrite, bad-tempered, double-faced, one of whom declared her a “devil’s faithful recruit.” Kilkold Mrs. Suspected that the sender was Mrs. Crawford, and then she tapped her nose.

“Whether Mrs Crawford sent objectionable lover does not appear (in court documents),” eagle Coverage before editorial on the topic.

“If she did, she would have committed very vulgar and vile behavior,” the article continued. “We hope that the spread of insulting and unfriendly lovers by mail is limited to the most hateful elements of society. Eagle sincerely cautions readers not to demean themselves by sending these vulgar letters and hurting people in the dark.”

It will take another 60 years for the public to listen eagle The fad is over. Of course, it will be another 60 years before people forget their history and start bashing each other anonymously again, this time on the internet.

“That was the opportunity at the time,” Bensch said. “Thank goodness there is only one day a year, not 24 hours a day like it is now.”

Sharing is caring 👌 don’t forget to share this post on Twitter !

Like it? Share with your friends!