Calendar Recipe Box Shopping List Address Book

Valentine’s Day and Chocolate: A Perfect Pairing

Valentine’s Day and Chocolate: A Perfect Pairing

Chocolate's sweet history leads to Valentine’s Day

By Selma Roth

  Print: Full Page
Text Only
  Email: Article
   Find: More Articles

Valentine was a priest who believed in love. Because of this, he performed marriage ceremonies even when they were forbidden by the Roman Emperor Claudius. This didn’t turn out too well for Valentine, who was, some say, caught in the act and sent to Rome to meet his fate.

Whatever the cause, Valentine angered the emperor and was martyred in 269 A.D. In 496 A.D., Pope Gelasius marked February 14th as a celebration in honor of his martyrdom. Today, he is still the patron saint of the betrothed.

This story establishes a pretty clear connection with the day we now call Valentine’s Day, but does nothing to explain our fascination with chocolate on this holiday.

Chocolate at Its Roots

Back in the days of the Mayans and Aztecs, chocolate was something of a well kept secret. Cacao trees grew only in the Western Hemisphere close to the equator, and so only those people living in this region benefited from the fruit of the low-growing trees. At the time, chocolate was believed to have magical powers and was served for mystical ceremonies, as well as at formal state occasions.

At these events, cocoa beans were mixed with water for a bitter brew, flavored with some spices but never sweetened. No one knows precisely why people thought chocolate to be an aphrodisiac, but it gained that reputation — which could explain why Montezuma, a powerful Aztec ruler, drank it with some regularity.

Chocolate Conquers the World

Later, when chocolate was introduced to Europe, it was made deliciously palatable with the addition of sugar. At first, the Europeans only drank it, but by the nineteenth century, some creative folks were making chocolate candy.

At the time, chocolate’s powers were believed to be so potent that nuns were forbidden to eat it, and French doctors prescribed it to mend broken hearts.

British chocolatier Richard Cadbury is credited with being the first person to create decorative boxes for chocolates, which he introduced in 1868. He is usually recognized, too, as the man who came up with the idea for heart-shaped boxes, a tradition that has become firmly ingrained in our culture. Today, sweethearts give each other truffles and other chocolates in gloriously romantic heart-shaped containers on Valentine’s Day.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Milton Hershey was mass producing chocolate at his plant in rural Pennsylvania. In 1907, the now famous milk chocolate Hershey’s Kiss was introduced — still a great favorite with chocolate lovers, whether it’s Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year!

Today there seems to be no end to the sorts of chocolates made with dark, milk or white chocolate. Some have fillings of fruits, caramel or nuts, while others have creamy centers.

A Sweet Business

Chocolate is big business, especially on Valentine’s Day, when some experts estimate we spend close to $1 billion on the sweet stuff. Evidently, the only time of year we spend more on chocolate is Easter.

It has never been proven whether chocolate is an aphrodisiac, but scientists believe there could be a connection. Chocolate contains a chemical called phenylethylamine that some say can cause feelings of warmth and attraction.

So go ahead and give a box of chocolates to someone you care about; it’s a sweet way to say “I love you."


Selma Roth is a freelance writer based in Oregon.

Enter your email address to receive delicious, family-friendly recipes, exciting promotions, helpful articles and more delivered right to your mailbox. What could be better?

Edible! Valentine's Day Cards
Turn simple ingredients into edible, brightly colored, even outrageous Valentine's Day cards!
View Full Article

Easy Valentine's Day Sweets and Treats
Invite the kids into the kitchen to make special treats for Valentine's Day!
View Full Article

Valentine's Day Cupcakes
Kids love cupcakes - and Valentine's Day is a the time for yummy chocolate ones!
View Full Article

Bake a Heart-Shaped Dessert
Surprise your Valentine with a sweet heart-shaped dessert. A delicious way to say "I love you!"
View Full Article

Three Things to Know When Buying Chocolates for Your Valentine
A red, heart-shaped box filled with sinfully rich chocolates is always welcome on Valentine's Day!
View Full Article

Valentine's Day Ice Cream Sundae
Make the sauces for the sundaes ahead of time. Decorate them with any heart-shaped candies you can find and serve your family their favorite ice cream or sorbet. We suggest strawberry ice cream, raspberry sorbet, or peppermint stick ice cream for the pret

Valentine's Day Ice Cream Sundaes
Easy-to-make raspberry and chocolate sauces are what makes these Valentine's sundaes as special as the day they celebrate.

Giant Valentine Cookie
This chewy chocolate chip cookie, topped with smooth, rich chocolate, makes a decadent treat that says Happy Valentine's Day in a giant way.

Big Valentine Cookie
Show your sweetheart how big your heart is with this edible valentine. Icing and sugar sprinkles add the finishing touch.

Rainy-Day Mocha Malt
This hot mocha malt is perfect for a rainy day, a cold day or to unwind just after you've put the kids to bed.

Tagged With: chocolate, Valentine's Day, history, Cadbury, Hershey

Simply fill out the required fields to begin enjoying the benefits of – it’s fast and it’s free.
* required

Concerned about privacy? Rest assured, we never sell or share your personal information.
See our Privacy Policy.