NEW YORK – For those feeling more bitter than blissful on Feb. 14, there are ways to "celebrate" the day with a wide assortment of cards, candies and flowers pedaled by merchants for the loveless.
The newest cynical treats to hit the market are BitterSweets, from Despair, Inc. And while the candies look just like the tiny, chalky hearts that friends and couples have been exchanging for decades, these messages aren't so sweet.
"Just a friend," "We need 2 talk," "I need space, money," "Time 2 trade up" and "See other people," are just some of the sentiments stamped on the little treats.
Though tart, the candies aren't mean to hurt people's feelings, according to Despair CEO Justin Sewell.
"I think people are giving them as gag gifts to friends," he said. "I think very few people who buy the product are actually unhappy. They might consider themselves to have a cynical sense of humor."
By far the most ubiquitous anti-Valentines come in the form of e-cards.
Yahoo features an animated card in which a man shoots Cupid with a pistol at point-blank range. Another shows a woman defending herself against the cherub's arrows with a shield.
On hugkiss.com, a card offers a picture of a bouquet of dead roses, with a biting note attached "for the messier moments in life."
One message choice reads: "Roses are red/ Dead roses are black/ Just want you to know/ You'll never get me back."
For those seeking something a bit more in the vengeance category, a number of sites, including www.yourpoisonpenletter.com, www.thepayback.com, will send things like real dead flowers, a dead fish and melted chocolates to your former beloved, all for under $30.
While bitter, Sewell thinks the gifts can help some laugh off the Valentine's Day blues.
"Valentine's Day so exclusively targets people who are in love and ready to spend money to prove it," he said. "For people who aren't in a blissful relationship, these products might speak to them in a way that florists of jewelers don't."