Reference Blog Entries

Brush up on the English language

Katie's picture

Do you know if the head of your school is a principal or a principle? Wish you knew the definition of eurhythmic? Wondering where the word smorgasbord originated? Not sure if your interest is piqued or peeked?  

This month marks the 131st anniversary of the Oxford English Dictionary’s first publication. This historical dictionary is widely-regarded as the most complete and accurate dictionary in the English language. You can access this great resource for free with your Upper Arlington Public Library card and learn about not only present-day usages of words and phrases, but historical uses as well.

The Oxford English Dictionary updates its entries every three months so you can stay up-to-date on the latest words like hashtagflexitarian, and selfie. You can find out why (and when) we started using phrases like wardrobe malfunctionfirst world problem, and Good-enough Morgan. Dazzle your friends by using heterodontosaurid or psychasthenia correctly in a sentence.

Check out the Oxford English Dictionary and learn some fun new words today!

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Valentine's Day Candy

Laura's picture

What will you give your sweetie for Valentine’s Day?  Will it be candy? The odds are good it will be.  Image - Candy Conversation Hearts

Take this quiz to see how much you know about the custom. 

The answers, which may be found at the bottom of this page, are taken from an article on Valentine's Day Candy in the library database called Daily Life through History. Read the article by clicking on the icon for the database below.  (You may need to enter your library card number and PIN to access the database.)  

  • Question #1 - Do scholars know when candy became a traditional gift for Valentine’s Day?
  • Question #2 - What British chocolate maker is credited with introducing the first box of Valentine’s Day chocolates?
  • Question #3 - In what decade did the New England Confectionary Company (NECCO) begin selling conversation hearts for Valentine’s Day?
  • Question # 4 - About how many conversation hearts (aka Sweethearts) does the company now make in the six weeks prior to Valentine’s Day?  Is it
    • ​800,000
    • 8 billion
    • 1 million
  • Question #5 - True or False: serotonin and endorphins are found in small amounts in chocolate and are part of the reason we love chocolates on Valentine’s Day and throughout the year.

Happy Munching!

Logo for Daily Life through History database





  1. Answer 1 – No.  Precisely when candy became the traditional gift given on Valentine’s Day is unclear
  2. Answer 2 – In the 1860s, Richard Cadbury introduced the first Valentine’s Day box of chocolates in England.
  3. Answer 3 – One of the earliest American Valentine’s Day candies was invented by the one of the predecessors of the New England Confectionery Company (NECCO), which began manufacturing Conversation Hearts in the 1860s. These heart-shaped candies were renamed Sweethearts in 1902. By the twenty-first century,
  4. Answer 4 – NECCO produces about 8 billion Sweethearts each year, virtually all within six weeks before Valentine’s Day, and they are the best-selling Valentine’s Day candy in the world.
  5. Answer 5 – Chemicals found in small amounts in chocolate are anandamide, serotonin, endorphins, and phenylethylamine (PEA); in the human brain these chemicals create positive feelings.