The heartwarming version of the story is that, in 1922, Herbert Birch Kingston, a candy company employee, gave away candy to people he felt had been forgotten by others: Orphans, shut-ins and the underprivileged. His magnanimous gesture caught on and the holiday — always celebrated on the third Saturday in October — spread, but slowly and not very far.
However, reporter Bill Lubinger of The Cleveland Plain Dealer shot the heartwarming story full of holes a few years ago when he wrote that “... Cleveland’s top candy makers concocted the promotion ... and it stuck, although it never became as widely accepted as hoped.”
Lubinger bases this on The Plain Dealer’s own article published on Oct. 8, 1921, which tells how “Sweetest Day was planned by a committee of 12 confectioners, who distributed 19,500 boxes of candy to newsboys, homeless people, orphans and others who had fallen on hard times in Cleveland. The Sweetest Day in the Year Committee was assisted in the distribution of candy by some of the biggest movie stars of the day including Theda Bara and Anne Pennington.”
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