Why Chocolate? Why We Give Chocolates on Valentines
Trying to imagine Valentine’s Day without chocolate is like trying to build a sandcastle without sand – it just doesn’t work that way. Every Valentine’s Day, Americans spend an estimated $1 billion on chocolates for their sweethearts. To put this into perspective, that’s more money than the British Virgin Islands’ annual GDP! Crazy, right?
The earliest record of Valentine’s traditions dates back to ancient Rome, as Romans celebrated the Feast of Lupercalia on February 14. In medieval times, women would eat bizarre foods on St. Valentine’s Day, believing that it would give them dreams and visions of their future spouse. This is also the era when the “X” symbol became synonymous with the kiss (xoxo, anyone?).
By the 1800s, physicians began advising their patients to eat chocolate to heal their broken hearts and calm their pining for lost love. It wasn’t long until the confectionary industry would make the connection between chocolate and Valentine’s Day, changing the course of history forever.
Richard Cadbury first created the Valentine’s Day candy box during the Victorian era in England. Aside from sweet, rich chocolate, the boxes featured handmade art that recipients could keep. In 2014, over 35 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate and Valentine’s gifts will be given to lovers across America.
Because it melts the soul, of course! If you want to get really technical here, chocolate contains an exceptionally high amount of phenylethylamine, which raises dopamine levels in the brain. “Phenylethylamine” is the scientific term for “the love drug,” which produces the feelings we experience when we fall in love.
This is why men and women alike both enjoy receiving chocolate and candy gifts on Valentine’s Day. Heck, even the Aztec’s used the cocoa bean as an aphrodisiac! If you want to steal your lover’s heart time and time again, you can never go wrong with a fine box of chocolates. We have the history and science to prove it!