The student news site of Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago, Illinois.

BEACON

The student news site of Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago, Illinois.

BEACON

The student news site of Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago, Illinois.

BEACON

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Capitalism and the Valentine’s Day Dilemma

Capitalism+and+the+Valentine%E2%80%99s+Day+Dilemma
Laura Ockel

Some say love makes the world go around—others say it’s money.

For many of today’s youth, disillusioned with the futures they face yet more connected and conscious than ever, the latter seems to ring more and more true. No time of year better exemplifies this feeling than February 14, when romantic hopefuls line up for sickeningly sweet gifts.

Valentine’s Day is the annual celebration of love and—more discreetly—its commodification. Human relationships are formed through staple products like Sweethearts, which consistently remains one of the most popular Valentine’s Day candies. To maintain its popularity, Sweethearts phrases are regularly updated.

“We knew those corny expressions didn’t mean a thing to moderns,” Margaret M. Kedian, the public relations director for Necco, told The Daily Boston Globe in 1950. That sentiment remains as corporations constantly chase current trends to move products. In the zero-sum game of love, consumers are the losers. With economic inequality growing, two key factors will define the role young people play in the country’s economic future.

 

Gaming the System

Insights into the economic ramifications of Valentine’s Day are revealed by analyzing candy sales throughout the year. A 2016 article published by CNBC uncovers a pattern familiar to most: candy sales, and similarly candy prices, skyrocket before the holiday.

However, what is not revealed by the data is that retailers often discount their candy immediately after the holiday, doing away with excess stock. This proves to be the ideal time for prospective consumers to purchase sweet treats for themselves and their lovers. Yet one major caveat remains. Products that are discounted tend to be less recognizable than their name-brand counterparts. “I would get the name-brand,” said Beacon contributor Tristan Lee, when asked about buying potential Valentine’s Day gifts.

“Consumers have an affinity and loyalty to certain brands and manufacturers who can convert that loyalty to a seasonal sale or unique format will win,” said Carman Allison, vice president of consumer insights at Nielsen.

For young people to get ahead on Valentine’s Day, they must make the most of the few options that society has given them. In radical opposition to consumerism, young people should choose discounted candy in bulk.

 

Against Valentine’s Day

To break down the institutions that uphold the holiday’s capitalist dilemma, one must first understand the basis on which it is built. Valentine’s Day traditionally centers on gift-giving and romantic relationships. To uproot the holiday is to deny the cultural demand for romantic love and material wealth.

Fortunately, with many young people moving on to adulthood, many have already begun to dissent. Americans are marrying older than ever, with the average marrying age having increased by over ten years in the last six decades. The same trend manifests in the average number of partners people are having and the average age at which young people begin dating.

To dismantle the institutions of Valentine’s Day, young people must be willing to surrender the necessity for gifts and reject the hyperfixation of society on marital life. Instead, young people must redirect that money into building better infrastructure and investing in the economy.

It is still too early to predict what Valentine’s Day will look like in the future. But although radical change may be far off, we can be optimistic for every young, single adult eating discount candy on February 15.

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