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why do we give chocolate on valentines day

Chocolate as an aphrodisiac: truth or myth? This concept dates back to the Aztecs when it was said that emperor Montezuma would consume cocoa to fuel romantic urges. Later, when Spanish Conquistadors discovered this love potion, it was said that chocolate became a popular item that gentleman gifted to their ladies. And now, science searches to prove or dismiss this phenomenon in efforts to understand why we gift chocolates on Valentines Day. To its credit, it was discovered that chocolate contained two chemicals, Phenylethylamine and Seratonin, associated with heightening romantic urges and enhancing happiness and overall energy. When released into the human body, these chemicals cause a release in hormones that uplift a persons mood and create a sense of euphoria, a feel-good trance if you will. These chemicals increase ones blood pressure and blood sugar levels to that which is similar to those in love. Now, whether these chemicals are potent enough to create romantic urges is an ongoing scientific debate. Some scientists aim to prove that while chocolate contains chemicals associated with feelings of happiness, love, and passion, the phenylethylamine content is too small to produce a measurable effect on desire and lust.

Confused? It cannot go unnoticed that chocolate contains chemical components that trigger feelings of well-being, happiness, even if they may not be in a romantic way. So, some argue that perhaps the whole idea of chocolate gift giving for the purpose of romance, especially around Valentines Day, is a psychological act, rather than a scientific one. What makes chocolate romantic is entirely contextual. Through history we have been told and shown over and over again that gifting chocolate on Valentines Day is the ultimate romantic gesture of love. While consuming chocolate for the sole purpose that its an aphrodisiac may be in illusion, the thought of gifting chocolate to show love can be intent enough to create a sense of euphoria amongst valentines. Who is to say that even if science doesnt support it, chocolate gift giving cannot spring romantic urges by the mere act. On Valentines Day, when we gift chocolates, we intend to make our recipients feel special and loved by the gesture. While science proves that eating chocolate makes people happy, psychology suggests that the idea of receiving chocolate causes romantic urges, not on account of science, but on pure feeling.

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Since our classroom parties in elementary school, weve been receiving chocolate and other sweets from classmates, friends, parents and significant others. If youre anything like me youve probably wondered why we even do this. Was it always this way? Why do we even celebrate Valentines Day anyway? If youve ever asked yourself any of these questions, or if you are now, youre in luck because I did the research. According to, the first mention of Valentines Day as a romantic holiday appears in Geoffrey Chaucers 1382 poem, Parlement of Foules. While the holiday s origins track a ways back, it wasnt always linked with sweets. By the time chocolate became commonplace in the English-speaking world in the 1840s, Valentines Day celebrations included showering ones romantic interest with cards, gifts, poems, songs and even locks of hair. In 1861, Richard Cadbury changed the game. Cadbury, a popular British chocolatier, had recently invented a new process for making a more palatable drinking chocolate, which resulted in leftover pure cocoa butter that had been extracted through the process.

Cue eating chocolate. Once they put the solidified chocolate into molds, they had to create an appealing way to package this new confection. Cadbury was inspired by the cupid-covered cards and gifts lovers were gifting each other on Valentines Day. So, in 1861, he created the ubiquitous heart-shaped boxes we know today in a stroke of marketing genius. Advertised as a gift that kept on giving, allowing individuals to store trinkets or love letters in these elaborately decorated boxes post-chocolate consumption, these boxes became extremely popular and are still treasured today. While other confectioners have outsold the Cadburys in the American market (Milton Hershey and Russell Stover, for example) the British chocolatiers are still credited with starting the Valentines Day chocolate frenzy. So the box of chocolate tradition clearly has staying power and fortunately (or unfortunately for my wallet) wont be going anywhere anytime soon. Unlike the chocolates inside the box. Stay connected and follow @MiamiUDining on , and!

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