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Vintage Wisconsin: Wisconsin Celebrates Valentine’s Day

Tips For Perfect Dinner, Outfit For The Holiday, Circa 1912

Photo: Wisconsin Historical Images

This shy guy and girl are the king and queen of Valentine’s Day in this photo from 1950s Milwaukee.

Exchanging cards for Valentine’s Day likely began in the early 1700s, and ramped up with the production of manufactured cards in the 1830s. A national mail system and cheap postage made cards even easier to send.

Looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day dinner? The Eau Claire Leader newspaper suggested this Valentine’s Day menu in 1912: grapefruit with candy hearts; radishes; salted nuts; sweetbread patties; heart-shaped potato balls; nut and grape salad; heart-shaped cakes; ice cream; and “bonbons with love mottoes.” Nothing says love like potato balls.

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In case you need help finding that perfect outfit, the same paper suggested some “Girlish Gowns for the Valentine Dance.” Brocade, lace, crepe charmeuse “in a delicate shade of apricot,” and huge silk flowers on the bodice were among the recommendations. But be careful of the “petrole blue taffeta with Vandyke pointed flounces,” for such “a gown would be impossible on an older woman.”

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