The phrase's origins are unclear; some credit Louis Abolafia. Radical activists Penelope and Franklin Rosemont helped to popularize the phrase by printing thousands of "Make Love, Not War" buttons at the Solidarity Bookshop in Chicago, Illinois and distributing them at the Mother's Day Peace March in 1965. They were the first to print the slogan.
In April 1965, at a Vietnam demonstration in Eugene, Oregon, Diane Newell Meyer, then a senior at the University of Oregon, pinned a handwritten note on her sweater reading "Let's make love, not war", thus marking the beginning of the popularity of this phrase. A picture of Meyer wearing the slogan was printed in the Eugene Register-Guard and then a related article turned up in the New York Times on May 9, 1965. When the slogan was used in California in 1967, then Governor Ronald Reagan joked to protesters "Those guys [the protesters] look like they can't make either of both".