Looking Back Feb. 12, 2012

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

Each week Albany Herald researcher Mary Braswell looks for interesting events, places and people from the past. You can contact her at (229) 888-9371 or mary.braswell@albanyherald.com.

Candy, cards, dinner (out), jewelry, flowers, red, pink and heart-shaped anything, or an assortment of these things, all speak “Valentine’s Day.” Here is a look back at a variety of items associated with the day that celebrates love.

By the numbers

• More than 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate will be sold for Valentine’s Day. Americans consume an average of 24.7 pounds of candy (each) per year.

• On average, men spend about $130 each on candy, cards, jewelry, flowers and dates. That’s more than double what women commit to spending.

• About eight billion conversation hearts are produced each year; that’s enough candy to stretch from Rome, Italy to Valentine, Arizona 20 times and back again.

• In February 2011, the 24,973 jewelry stores ion the U.S. sold $2.27 billion in merchandise.

• At last count, there were 17,124 florists nationwide employing just under 76,000 people.

• In 2009, an average of nearly 5,800 couples were married each day in the U.S.

• Among the women who married for the first time between 1990 and 1994, 74.5 percent marked a 10th wedding anniversary. This compares with 83 percent of the women who married for the first time between 1960 and 1964.

• Of the currently married women in the U.S., 6.2 percent have been married 50 years or longer.

The heart

Reader poll

On average, the adult heart pumps how many gallons of blood each day?

  • 3,000 0%
  • 4,500 100%
  • 7,000 0%
  • 8,000 0%

1 total votes.

• The average weight of the adult heart is eight ounces for women and 10 ounces for men.

• So strong is the heartbeat that it could shoot blood up to a distance of 30 feet.

• Women’s hearts typically beat faster than that of men.

• The human heart begins to beat as early as four weeks after conception.

• Laughing can be a great workout for the heart. The blood flow in the heart increases for up to 45 minutes following a good laugh, which in turn improves its health.

• It is believed that there is a link between the ring finger and the heart for men. Studies show that the longer a man’s ring finger is, the lower his chance of having a heart attack.

• A person really can have a “broken heart” When emotionally difficult times are experienced, the body releases stress hormones. The hormones sometimes mimic the symptoms of a heart attack and, in some cases, can cause a real cardiac arrest.


• The color pink is named after the flowers called “pinks.” The name is derived from the frilled edge of the flowers.

• The verb “to pink” dates back to the 14th century and means “to decorate with a perforated or punched pattern.” This explains the name of the cutting tool known as pinking shears.

• Using the color pink as a distinction of girls dates back to at least 1868. In Louisa Mae Alcott’s “Little Women,” when after being shown boy and girl twins, Laurie says: “Most remarkable children I ever saw. Which is which?” Amy put a blue ribbon on the boy and a pink one on the girl, “French fashion, so you can always tell.”

• Prior to the distinction made in Alcott’s novel, it is known that the pink/blue system was used in orphanages in France.

• The phrase “pink-collar worker” refers, in the West, to people working in the fields or jobs conventionally regarded as “women’s work.”

• Under Nazi rule, men imprisoned on accusations of homosexuality were forced to wear a pink triangle.

• The pink iguana was first identified in 1986 and first recognized as a distinct species in 2009.

• Flamingos are pink, orange or white depending on what they eat. Flamingos eat algae and crustaceans that contain pigments called carotenoids.

• Seeing pink elephants is a euphemism for hallucinations caused by the withdrawal from alcohol. The concept was used in Disney’s animated film “Dumbo” when the title character accidentally became drunk. He saw a parade of pink elephants.

• Mary Kay Ash purchased her first Mary Kay pink Cadillac in 1968. It soon became the company’s trademark.

• “In the pink” is an expression meaning to be in good health.

• Pink is an American singer-songwriter. Her real name is Alecia Moore.

• In Catholicism, pink (called rose by the church) symbolizes joy and happiness.

• “Pink” is a song by Aerosmith.

• Pink Lady was a short-lived 1966 painting on a rock face near Malibu, Calif. Pink Lady is also a gin-based drink and the term given to senior volunteers in hospitals.

• Pink slip refers to the American practice, by a personnel department, of including a discharge notice in an employee’s pay envelope to notify the worker of his or her termination of employment or layoff. The term pink slip may relate to the fact that many applications (including termination papers) are done in triplicate form, with the dismissed employee receiving the pink copy (hence the pink slip).

This ‘n That

• Teachers receive the most Valentine cards, followed by children, mothers and wives.

• A loveseat is a wide chair initially designed for women and their wide skirts and petticoats. The design was eventually widened so a loving couple could sit together.

• The first known use of a pink ribbon in connection with breast cancer awareness was in the fall of 1991, when the Susan G. Komen Foundation handed out pink ribbons to participants in its New York City race for breast cancer survivors.The pink ribbon was adopted as the official symbol of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month the next year.

• Cupid, the winged little deity often associated with Valentine’s Day, is the son of Venus, the Roman goddess of love.