Valentine’s day: The history of chocolate and its delights.

 

“The tradition of giving chocolates on Valentine’s Day can be traced to Richard Cadbury, of the English chocolate-making family, who “invented” the first Valentine’s Day candy box during the Victorian era. The Victorians, who fancied decorating cards with plump cupids shooting arrows of love, later transferred the image to the lids of heart-shaped boxes filled with dreamy combinations of silken chocolates.” 1
Cadbury’s was one of the first companies to promote this special habit on this amazing day. Valentine’s day became one of the best occasion to offer heart-shaped boxes of chocolates which are the pure symbols of this special romantic day for many people across the world. Especially the lovers who considered it as a tradition. In United Sates, the favorite and the most popular candies during this day are the conversation hearts and chocolates. Why do we give Chocolate every February 14 ? Why is it so popular ? Why an association exists between Valentines’s day and chocolates ? Is it only a inescapable pleasure ? Is it because chocolates provides health benefits ? Is it a story of tradition which are firmly rooted in our habits ? Is it only an economic festival which permits to chocolate companies to make a lot of money of this day ?

cadbury1

 Cadbury has a long history of success with milk chocolate, so it is a great choice for quality Valentine’s confections. For example, their Valentine With Love line has several boxed chocolate that are clearly labeled as milk chocolate. Look for the “Milk Tray” logo to find these gems for your lover. Other products, such as the Valentine Treasure Box require a bit more digging, but by reading the list of included products, you can determine that the contents are all milk chocolate.’ 2

The chocolate duo Valentine appears as one of the most remarkable marriages since many years, however, it is extremely complicated to trace the origins of this tradition, across the generations, people believed that chocolate had aphrodisiac properties but we also know that the Valentine candy phenomenon is rooted in the Victorian era and was a clever stratagem developed by some companies of chocolate to promote their products. However, our principal temptation goes back a long way. Unlike tea from Buddhist Asia or coffee from Islam, chocolate became significant to us from an amazing place called Mesoamerica where the interesting religious, and medicinal traditions of the peoples from there, had an important impact on our consummation of chocolate.

The earliest known use of chocolate is from the mayan population before A.D. 400 and possibly as early as 1400 B.C, they were cultivating the cacao beans in their own gardens and they have made a strong cocoa drink, hot and bitter, made with crushed cocoa beans and spices, not really soft.

chocolat-azteques-1

 Mayan marriage ritual in which they shared a hot drink containing cacao.

Later, the Aztecs would have improved the recipe, they preferred to drink it cold and with a mixed of vanilla and honey, which was a delicious drink called “xocoatl” . They used to associate the cacao bean, chocolate with the goddess Xochiquetzal, the goddess of fertility, it has been referred to as “the food of the gods and they used it as a sacrificial offering because they believed it was a source of spiritual wisdom, energy and higher sexual prowess, it was very famous during the nuptial night and the wedding ceremonies, it was more expensive and reserved for the upper classes. So for them, chocolate was an aphrodisiac, able to arouse the sexual passions: the Aztec emperor Montezuma drank fifty cups a day because he had a lot of wives and he wanted to satisfy all of them, that’s represent a lot of romance. Gregory Elder said ‘Perhaps this was because it was believed that it was also good for one’s romantic life, as the association with Xochiquetzal suggests’3

ans_21_05_1

Aztecs tradition: Chocolate as an offering to the God.

When Christopher Columbus discovered the amazing taste of the chocolate during his travel in America, he was totally surprised and extremely attracted by it, so he decided to bring it in Spain, and this new luxury has quickly made its way across Europe, where it became very popular. 

chocolateparty

Christopher Columbus brought some cocoa beans to Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain

By the 1840s, in the west, Valentine’s Day was an important notion in the English-speaking world. Indeed, the Victorians were completely charmed by this holiday of love, which permits them to celebrate their love for another person, it was also an important commercial day because most of them were looking for the best romantic gift, and it’s during this love-crazed fray that the chocolate made its way to the masses and it began the common link between chocolate and Valentine’s Day. In 1861, Richard Cadbury, scion of a British chocolate manufacturing family and also responsible for sales at a crucial point in his company’s history, recognized a good marketing opportunity and he was the first to produce the heart-shaped box, he started selling it in beautifully decorated boxes that he himself designed. It was a success. 

‘Cadbury marketed the boxes as having a dual purpose: When the chocolates had all been eaten, the box itself was so pretty that it could be used again and again to store mementos, from locks of hair to love letters. The boxes grew increasingly elaborate until the outbreak of World War II, when sugar was rationed and Valentine’s Day celebrations were scaled down. But Victorian-era Cadbury boxes still exist, and many are treasured family heirlooms or valuable items prized by collectors.’

The new perception of chocolate on Valentine’s day is less romantic, erotic and magic than during the period of Aztecs: it has more an economic side, we can talk about a ‘business festival’ for Candy companies, the majority of profits on chocolate are made in during this period. But maybe, for the consumers, its another history on this day, they probably follow the advices of the Aztecs about this aphrodisiac product…

 This video is interesting, numbers 14 and 15 concern chocolate impact on the sexual part of the body, it’s linked to the fact that Aztecs used it during nuptial night etc…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIacSpKqwBU

Works Cited

1 – Quotation from the website Valentines Day candies & menus

http://www.foodtimeline.org/valentines.html

2 – Quotation from the website Box of Cadbury chocolates

http://www.chocolatereviews.co.uk/milk-chocolate-valentines/
 

3 – Chocolate was associated with religion and romance in the Aztec empire By Gregory Elder

http://www.redlandsdailyfacts.com/general-news/20130515/chocolate-was-associated-with-religion-and-romance-in-the-aztec-empire

4 -Western Libraries (UWO). Valentine’s Day 2012,

http://www.lib.uwo.ca/news/business/2012/02/08/valentinesday2012.html5

5 – Chocolat et St-Valentin, un parcours historiquehttp://wikibouffe.iga.net/wiki/chocolat-et-st-valentin-un-parcours-historique

6 – Coe, S. & Coe, M. The true history of chocolate. Thames & Hudson, 1996

7 – Lees, R. A history of sweet and chocolate manufacture. Specialized Publications, 1988 

8 – Chocolate in Mesoamerica: A Cultural History of Cacao (Maya Studies) Hardcover – January 28, 2007

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