Why is Giving Someone Chocolates Considered a Romantic Gesture?
3 min reading time
Chocolate and Valentine's Day are simply a perfect match. Every year, 58 million pounds of chocolates are purchased and given as gifts to loved ones around the world. But we're curious...who set these two up in the first place? Was it something about chocolate that made it the perfect gift on Valentine's Day or was it Valentines Day that made us associate chocolate with romance and love? We're determined to get to the bottom of this chicken or the egg mystery and find out exactly why giving chocolate as a gift is such a romantic thing to do.
A Little History Lesson
To start, we have the Aztecs to thank for the well-known concept of chocolate as an aphrodisiac; specifically, emperor Montezuma who said he would consume cocoa to fuel romantic urges. Then Spain brought this idea over to Europe, using the cocoa 'love potion' as a way for their gentlemen to woo the ladies. By the Victorian Era in England, it became almost a matter of fact that chocolate was the way to someone's heart. In fact, Victorian etiquette books would even warn women from accepting chocolate from men they weren't engaged to.
And to Montezuma's credit, scientists say that chocolate does, in fact, contain two chemicals, Phenylethylamine and Serotonin, that are associated with heightening romantic urges, happiness and overall energy. They also increase blood pressure and sugar levels which is a similar reaction to those in love.
Where does Valentine's Day Come into Play?
In case you haven't heard, the famous St. Valentine of Terni was beaten, stoned and beheaded back in 269 C.E. for the crimes of marrying Christian couples. For this marital-based reason, he was appointed the patron saint of love, young people and marriages. His February 14th feast day was established years later by the Pope, as more romantic associations to his name came to light. Legend has it that Valentine fell in love with the blind daughter of a judge, and eventual jailer. From there, he wrote her secret letters, signed 'From your Valentine,' and later, was said to have restored her sight from beyond the grave.
Skipping ahead many years and referring back to the Victorian English love of courting, John Cadbury (yes, the same Cadbury from the incredible Cadbury Chocolate Company) was busy improving on his father's original chocolate making techniques, which resulted in a better-tasting chocolate liquor AND the eating chocolate that we know and love today. He began designing beautifully decorated boxes for the edible cocoa, featuring images of cupid and red roses. He then marketed the packaging in a way that when people were finished with their chocolates, they could leave love momentos stored inside the boxes. Let's just say, it was extremely successful.
Over time, more and more people began saving love letters in these boxes, especially war valerians who would store them in attics and basements to later be found and admired by their children and grandchildren. So, these chocolate keepsake boxes helped precious love stories live on for generations to come.... Is this the tie to Valentine's Day we've been looking for? Love letters 'from your Valentine' and empty chocolate boxes; could be!
Fast forward even more and jump over to America where Milton Hershey was getting kids and adults alike all excited about delicious chocolate treats with his bite-sized kisses. However, it was Russell Stover who introduced the heart-shaped box of chocolates! They even covered them in satin and black lace- very fancy! Now, these boxes have become exclusively linked to Valentine's Day.
A Healthy Dose of Love
We also must not forget the health benefits that dark chocolate provides. It's good for your heart! Another connection? We just had to mention it.
Whether it's science, history or just coincidence, there's something about the allure of chocolate that's exotically romantic and makes us feel loved when we receive it from someone special. For everything you need to express your love this February, check out our large selection of Valentine's Day themed chocolates and candies!