WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- The U.S. Census Bureau said Valentine's Day revelers seeking to impress a loved one have their pick of about 1,148 chocolate manufacturers and 15,307 florists.
The bureau said the holiday began with a declaration from Pope Gelasius I in the year 496 to celebrate the mysterious St. Valentine, who some believe to have been a clergyman executed in ancient Rome for secretly performing marriages. The first mass-produced Valentine cards were sold in the 1840s by Esther Howland of Massachusetts, and today couples can exchange candy gifts from one of the 1,148 chocolate makers in the United States as of data collected in 2011, and the 440 non-chocolate candy manufacturers recorded the same year.
The bureau said an estimated 23,394 jewelry stores were in operation as of 2011, when there were 1,385 jewelry-making establishments.
The bureau said the median age for men entering their first marriages in 2013 was calculated at 29-years-old, while the median age for women getting married for the first time was 26.6.