Some women fancy themselves romantic gestures by way of flowers, chocolate, jewelry and fancy dinners on Valentine's Day.

Me? I prefer the random and more creative things in life, so traditional presents fall flat (and no one buys them for me anyway, so that takes care of that, right?).

What I really wish was still a regular occurance - at any age - is the exchanging of Valentines - just plain, old Valentines.

England popularized what we know today as the paper Valentine. In the early 1800s, they were assembled in factories, mostly as paper painted by hand with pictures in black and white, then eventually, with the introduction of paper lace, they found their fancy factor.

Esther Howland, an American printer and artist, published and printed Valentines that were available for purchase beginning in 1850. By the early 1900s, a company named Norcross became the first commercial card company to produce Valentine's Day cards.

While researching online, the best I came across were delightfully kitsch vintage cards from, I'm guessing, the 1940s.

I also started to notice a few themes:

Hot dog!

It almost seems as though there was a time in history when all Valentines manufactured were required to feature a hot dog, sausage, bolonga or some other kind of meat product in casing.

I went to Catholic school, so maybe I'm missing something, but I'm going to assume it's because meat products have a high product-to-pun translation factor. "Frank-ly speaking, I want you" is enough to make a girl weak in the knees when spoken by an animated hot dog leaning on a jar of mustard.

Cards with bananas and fire hoses were, I imagine, popular themes for the same reason. Lord knows a banana is the best way to tell someone they "a-peal" to you.

Don't threaten me with a good time

Although Valentine's Day is supposed to be all love bubbles and kisses, it seems as though vintage cards also explored a darker side of love.

"The point is, will you be my Valentine, or I'll nail you yet, my Valentine," sounds like more of a threat than a thrill, and if a girl boiling in a large cauldron with the words "You're sweet enough to eat, my Valentine" doesn't spell out some form of cannibalism, I don't know what does.

Man, I miss simpler times.

So, here is a collection I hand-picked for all of you, my favorite readers.

Choose whichever one tickles your fancy (if you can read them) and have a Happy Valentine's Day, my loves.

(Jenna Wasakoski, a News-Item editor, is a graduate of Von Lee School of Aesthetics and is certified as a professional makeup artist.)