Roses are red, violets are blue. Here's a Valentine's Day quiz, just for you. (For better or worse, that's our verse.)
Ah, Valentine's Day. Shakespeare said the play's the thing; but with Valentine's Day, the gift's the thing. But predating gifts, there were greeting cards -- and what a colorful commercial history they have. Before our ancestors even dreamt that the greeting card industry could ever become the booming $7.5 billion business it is today, however, there were many ''loving-hands-at-home'' prototypes. Speaking of which, who sent the very first greeting commemorating the holiday honoring a love-besotted saint named Valentine (or the fertility-related Roman festival of Lupercalia, depending on which popular legend you prefer)?
Zsa Zsa Gabor.
Romeo -- yes, the one Juliet wondered aloud wherefore he was ''art.''
The Duke -- Duke, Duke, Duke -- of Orleans.
What's a ''penny dreadful''?
A card from Kmart marked down after the holiday.
An insulting card, from days of yore.
What the late and lovable Jack Benny (who wasn't a cheapskate in real life) always quipped his wife called his Valentine's Day cards -- despite the fact he famously swore he never spent less than a quarter.
The year: 1847. The town: Worcester, Mass. The lovely lady: Esther A. Howland. After seeing a British valentine, Ms. Howland was inspired to make some samples of her own -- lovely ones, not insulting ones! -- which led to some of the first store orders of such cards in the United States, and the hiring of a staff. How much would you reckon the lovely New Englander would eventually rake in per year?
Say, what will most of us pay for a card today?
$2 to $3.
Now, for the main course: the gift. And nothin' says lovin' like the sacred flower of Venus: the rose, of course. What's the average asking price for a dozen of the long-stemmed red beauties this year?
We'll be spending a total of about $45 billion on gifts of chocolate, other foods, chocolate, wine and ... did we say chocolate? Speaking of chocolate -- we did bring it up, didn't we? -- what kind are most of us sweet on?
Some folks are going to give their precious Fido and Fluffy Valentine's Day gifts. (Stop laughing at us! Do you think we can't hear you? And straighten up your posture, too, while you're at it.) What percentage of Americans are we ... er, we mean they?
Wanna take a stab at what percent of single women are wishin' and hopin' and prayin' for some lingerie as a Valentine's Day gift?
Speaking of online shopping -- just a wee click from where you are now, mes amis -- approximately how many Valentine's Day-related orders will we be placing in cyberspace?
Men and women -- viva la difference. Now, think about the average Joe and Jane, which of course you're not, so just imagine. What average amount will those two average schlubs be spending on each other this Valentine's Day -- Joe's figure will be the first of the pairing; Jane's the second:
-- Posted: Jan. 29, 2002
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