The History of … Valentine’s Day & Chocolate

Have you ever wondered why every February 14 th , love-struck men and women spend more than 1 billion dollars on chocolate products? Has chocolate got to do anything with the most romantic day of the year? Let us explore the history of chocolate and Valentine’s Day.

The first obsession with chocolate probably first began 2,000 years ago in Latin America. The Mayans and Aztecs made a chocolate drink using cocoa beans and water. That could be the first frappuccinos. It was made for special occasions and as sacrifices to the gods. The Aztec ruler Montezuma routinely drank it before going to the harem. This increased chocolate’s popularity and its association with love and romance. The Aztecs probably knew about its features or benefits better than the modern man. Modern scientists have linked the chemical phenylethylamine in chocolate to feelings of excitement, attraction and
even pleasure.

The Aztec society used cocoa beans as money and were unable to afford to drink it. Thus “gifting” chocolate for consumption began catching up. Once upon a time, chocolate was believed to be so intoxicating that nuns were forbidden from eating it and French doctors used it to treat “broken hearts.”

By 1800, the Cadbury Brothers set up shop in England and began packaging candies to sell to a conventional audience. In 1861, Richard Cadbury created the first ever heart-shaped box for Valentine’s Day, prompting the commercialization of this day. It was in the second half of the 20th century, the practice of exchanging cards was extended to all manner of gifts including roses and
chocolates packed in a red satin, heart-shaped box. Every February 14th we all still have a sweet spot for this sweet treat.

Chocolate is considered to contain substances like phenylethylamine and seratonin, both of which are mood lifting agents found naturally in the human brain. They are believed to be released into the nervous system by the brain when we are happy and when we are experiencing feelings of love, passion or lust. This results in rapid mood change, a rise in blood pressure and increasing heart rate is also observed.

Chocolate is said to influence mood, generally leading to an increase in pleasant feelings and a reduction in tension. Eating  chocolate also gives a considerable energy boost thus increasing stamina, so it’s probably these effects which gave rise to chocolates reputation as an aphrodisiac.

So there you have it, calling chocolate an aphrodisiac is probably stretching it a bit, but eating chocolate does make you feel good and can actually induce or ‘mimic’ the feelings of being in love…”

Guys, now you know why you should always give a girl chocolates on a date? In Japan, tradition holds that only women give men the gift of chocolate rather than the other way around. The chocolate given depends on the nature of the relationship. Giri-choko, or ‘obligation chocolate’, is bought for bosses, colleagues, and male friends. Honmei-choko is presented to boyfriends, lovers or husbands. Handcrafted chocolate is usually preferred by the recipient because of the perception of sincerity, effort, and emotion put into a homemade confection. And the women have to wait the whole month to receive their gift, which is usually white chocolate.

12 thoughts on “The History of … Valentine’s Day & Chocolate

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