SAN DIEGO, February 13, 2018: Americans will spend approximately 1.8 billion dollars on candy this Valentine’s Day. And the sweet treat most often desired is chocolate!
With colorful bags and heart-shaped boxes filled with chocolate hearts, bonbons, truffles, cremes, squares, dipped-fruits and more, this delectable and refined delicacy made from cocoa beans raises Valentine’s Day senses with passion and excitement for sharing highly anticipated affections.
“Love neither possess nor would it be possessed. For Love is sufficient unto Love.” -Khalil Gibran
Chocolate and its allure through the centuries
Valentine’s Day earliest beginnings belong to the early Christian martyr Saint Valentine of Rome a 3rd-century Roman whose saint day is February 14. Since the High Middle Ages, Valentine was known as a purveyor of courtly love, though there is little historical evidence to support this.
Regardless, February 14th is the day that this saint is remembered with great fondness.The link between the day and romantic love seems to appear first in Chaucer’s 1382 poem, Parlement of Foules who describes the nature of love when “every bird cometh to choose his mate” on “seynt Voantynes day.”
Chaucer’s Parlement of Foules (Fowls)
“For this was on Saint Valentine’s day,
When every fowl comes there his mate to take,
Of every species that men know, I say,
And then so huge a crowd did they make,
That earth and sea, and tree, and every lake
Was so full, that there was scarcely space
For me to stand, so full was all the place.”
The early Aztec Indians believed that chocolate was an aphrodisiac, and referred to it as “the food of the gods,” according to The Happy Chocolatier.
When Christopher Columbus sailed from the Americas bringing chocolate to Queen Isabella as a gift for her, the pleasurable impact was so great that eating chocolate quickly spread across Europe.
Chocolate filled hearts
English businessmen and chocolatiers Richard and George Cadbury are to thank for the popularization of chocolate as a Valentine’s Day gift. They were the first to put the chocolates in heart-shaped box
The Cadbury brothers were devout Christians. Their values were guiding principles for how they ran their chocolate business, treating their employees with consideration and care, clearly ahead of employment practices of their time.
The popularity of chocolate as an expression of love led to the Cadbury’s development of a richer and more flavorful taste defining what qualifies as the finest chocolate.
It is little wonder that two devout brothers with deeply held beliefs chose to popularize the symbol of love, a heart, for their Valentine’s Day candy boxes. In 1861 Cadbury began putting Cupids and rosebuds on heart-shaped boxes, creating a gift within a gift. Once the chocolates are eaten, the beautiful boxes are repositories for romantic mementos.
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” -Charles M. Schulz
In 1907, the Hershey chocolate company began production of tear-dropped shaped “kisses” that they advertised “a most nourishing food.”
Russell Stover, with its 3,000 employees and $600 million in annual sales, the number one boxed-chocolate company in the U.S. In 1923, Clara began selling their “Bungalow Candies,” a marketing reference to their homemade chocolates in heart-shaped boxes to department stores across the Midwest.
The Science behind Chocolate as a health food
There is a scientific basis for the adage, “sweet love” and feeling more loving after eating chocolate. Bryn Mawr College student Kristen Coveleskie theorized that chocolate can release neurotransmitters, stimulating the brain into a happier mood state.
Why? Positive neurotransmitters, commonly known as endorphins and other opiates, can reduce stress and lead to euphoric feelings.
There is a link between chocolate and phenylethylamine, which increases the production of dopamine and serotonin . These two hormones are very important mood regulators and are the reason why Phenylethylamine is often called “chocolate amphetamine.”
While chocolate is thought to increase your mood and lower depression, the levels of phenylethylamine in chocolate are slight. Are chocolates positive effects just because it tastes so good?
Dark chocolate is becoming widely known as a healthy food due to its many positive effects on overall health.
In addition to improving mood and decreasing depression, dark chocolate helps protect the human body from free radicals and cancer due to its antioxidant content. Flavanols help to improve heart health by supporting blood vessel health and circulation.
On this Valentine’s Day embrace the tradition of giving a heart-shaped gift box filled with chocolate delights!
Not only does it taste incredibly good, it is excellent, in moderation, for good health.
Nothing says love like chocolate. And nothing is better than sharing such a feel-good gift with those nearest and dearest to our heart.
“How Sweet the words of truth breathed from the lips of love.” -James Beattie
Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at LifeCycles.
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!