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How chocolate became tied
to Valentine’s Day

Cadbury even designed chocolate
boxes in the shape of hearts that
could be saved as mementos. These
chocolates soon became intertwined
with Valentine’s Day celebrations.

Heart-shaped boxes filled with decadent treats
are coveted gifts on Valentine’s Day. Chocolate
lovers typically have a favorite type of chocolate,
whether it’s creamy filled truffles or chocolate
pieces with fruit or nut fillings.
The tradition of gifting chocolate is anything but
new. Chocolate and other sweet treats have been
offered for centuries as prized gifts. Even ancient
Aztecs and Mayans celebrated chocolate and
saw it as a hot commodity. Drinks made of cacao
beans would be given as presents to people of
high status. Chocolate also would be offered to
the gods as a token of appreciation. Cacao beans
were even used as a form of currency at one point.
During the 17th century, chocolate consumption
grew considerably across Europe. Chocolate houses cropped up in London, and the French elite often indulged in chocolate. Chocolate’s popularity
continued to grow, but the dessert was not linked
to Valentine’s Day until nearly 200 years later. In
the mid-1800s, an enterprising individual named
Richard Cadbury was looking for a way to make
chocolate even more popular than it already was.
He sought out a method to make drinking chocolate more palatable and created “eating chocolates.” These chocolates were packaged in decorative boxes. Eventually, Cadbury saw the benefit of
putting images of cupids and roses on the boxes.

On the other side of the Atlantic,
Milton Hershey dabbled in commercializing chocolate as well. Hershey
began as a caramel maker, but experimented with covering the caramels
in chocolate in 1894. Hershey would
go on to develop one of the most
successful brands of chocolate in the
United States, which included the famous Hershey bar. In 1907, Hershey
launched production of tear-drop
shaped “kisses.” (The chocolates
were given their unusual name because of the
“smooching” noise made by the chocolate when
being manufactured.) The kisses became wildly
popular and made for affordable chocolate gifts
on Valentine’s Day.
Many other chocolate manufacturers soon began
packaging their chocolates in special boxes for
Valentine’s Day. Russell Stover and Whitmans are
two such manufacturers who have long specialized in heart-shaped boxes or other decorative
Valentine’s gifts.
Traditionally, men have gifted women with boxes
of chocolate for Valentine’s Day. However, that
role is reversed in other areas of the world. For
example, in Japan, women give gifts – namely
chocolates – to the men in their lives to express
love, courtesy or social obligation. This tradition
first began in 1936 when confectioner Morozoff
Ltd. ran the first ever Valentine’s Day ad in Japan
through a local English newspaper. By the 1950s,
other Japanese confectioners were following suit.
Chocolate has long been tied to Valentine’s Day
gifting. Whether one believes that chocolate symbolizes heightened status, acts as an aphrodisiac
or is just a special treat, chocolates will likely always be associated with the day of love. TF172766

Valentine’s Day
numbers to know

Valentine’s Day is one of the most
popular days of the year to celebrate. Here’s a look at some interesting numbers associated with
this day to celebrate the love people
have for one another.
400: The year that Pope Gelasius declared February 14 a day to honor
Saint Valentine.
62: The percentage of adults who say
they celebrate the holiday.
1.7: The amount, in billions, that is
spent on candy for Valentine’s Day,
according to the National Retail Federation.
512: The average dollar amount
spent per person for Valentine’s Day.
58: The number of pounds, in millions, of chocolate bought during
Valentine’s Day week.
150: The number of cards and gifts,
in millions, sent each year for the day
of love.
1: The dollar amount, in billions, that
Americans are expected to spend on
Valentine’s Day cards.
61: Percentage of men who purchase
flowers or plants for Valentine’s Day.
15: Average cost, in dollars, of a box
of chocolates.
8.6: Amount of dollars, in millions,
spent on sparkling wine for Valentine’s Day, making it the second most
popular occasion, after New Year’s
Eve, to enjoy some bubbly.
150: The average amount, in dollars,
men spend on gifts. Women spend
an average of $74 on gifts.
2: The ranking of red roses in comparison to other types of flowers
Sources: NRF, Greeting Card Association, National Confectioners Association, U.S. Postal Service, USDA.


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