Have you ever wanted to tell someone off—and make them pay for the memo? At one point in history it was actually a thing!
That’s the function behind what are known as Vinegar Valentines. In the American Victorian Age (around the 1840s) Vinegar Valentines were introduced by a variety of printing companies and helped give many consumers a way to give less-than-warm regards, anonymously, to people they felt deserved to know how terrible they were. The cards insulted a person’s looks, intelligence or occupation.
Vinegar Valentines hit at a time when literacy among the lower classes was booming—giving the bizarro valentines the kick they needed to launch them into popularity. In the upper classes, the notes were known to cause fistfights and brawls as they were downright brutal. Some called the receivers names such as “floozy,” “cross-eyed ape” and “cheapskate,” while others delved darker, calling for suicide, death, murder and other less savory ends.
Be it complete slander or brutal truth, these bitter notes have become quite a collectors item. When we look back at campy and quirky items throughout history, Vinegar Valentines make us want to give you a whole line up of vinegary recipes to gift to your frenemies. OK, maybe we shouldn’t go there! Of course, today we have rude candy hearts, mean e-cards and sarcastic Grumpy Cat-laden memes to guide us on our bitter ways. So in the spirit of all things shady and bitter, here are five things that are currently trendy in the world of bitter.
1) Shrub Cocktails: Leveraging vinegar as a cocktail component isn’t new—but it’s become a booming trend as tangy and savory cocktails continue to gain momentum in the bar scene.
2) Vinegar-Braised Meats: Use these if you want to add a splash of sour to a traditional dish. Vinegar-baised chicken and pork dishes give a new flavor component to an always-popular entrée.
3) Vinegar-Braised Winter Vegetables: A twist on traditional root vegetables, this trend is bringing new life to classic dishes.
4) Playing with Plum Vinegar: Look out apple cider vinegar, there’s another fruit-based vinegar in town that has consumers wondering what they can do with it—from pizza toppings and rice to simple salad dressings.
5) Balsamic Butters: As butter continues to grow outside of its traditional uses, it’s being infused with everything from meats and wine to vinegars and cheeses.
So on this international day of candy, chocolates and flowers, if you’re finding yourself in a slump, don’t get bitter—get cooking.