5 Reasons to Give Chocolate on Valentine's Day
- February 01, 2021 |
Which came first – Valentine's Day or chocolate? And why is chocolate such a popular gift on Valentine's Day? Candy, and chocolate, in particular, is so popular that purchases of chocolate total over 58 million pounds during Valentine's week alone. Now that's A LOT of chocolate!
Here's what we know. Chocolate definitely came first. It was being enjoyed as a drink of the gods and a beverage of celebration by the Olmecs, and later the Mayans and Aztecs, more than 1700 years B.C.E. Cacao beans were very valuable and were sometimes exchanged as money.
We can thank the Spaniards for the introduction of chocolate to western culture. When it was brought back to Spain, it was not the immediate success you might expect. The drink was bitter and not embraced at all until a bit of sugar or honey was added. It then became a favorite of courtiers. So, there we have the first reason that chocolate is a beloved gift on Valentine's Day – it tastes good.
The Mayans were the first to associate chocolate with love – the drink was sometimes used in wedding ceremonies where the bride and groom would sip it from the same cup. Montezuma, the infamous Aztec ruler, was said to enjoy chocolate in great quantities before his many “romantic” encounters. While it is true that chocolate does contain small quantities of tryptophan and phenylethylamine, two chemicals that activate the brain's pleasure centers, scientists tell us that there's not enough of either to have an effect. But, that does bring us to the second reason chocolate is such a popular Valentine's gift – the belief that it is an aphrodisiac.
Imagine you've just had a fight with your best friend or your sweetheart. How are you going to bridge the gap and let bygones be bygones? Chocolate has a real emotional effect on people and can be used as a mood enhancer. The taste, the texture, and the smell all play into it. Chocolate is often given as a gift of delight and congratulations, to express your apologies, or to rekindle an old friendship. There's our third reason to give chocolate as a gift on Valentine's Day … or any day – it shows goodwill and grace.
Research over the years shows that chocolate, especially dark chocolate, does have some health value. It is good for your brain; it can lower blood pressure. The food is also packed with antioxidants and flavonoids which help fight cancer and lower the risk of heart disease. You'll need to look for less-processed dark chocolate to reap these benefits, but in a world where most things you enjoy aren't good for you, this is good news, and it's our fourth reason to give chocolate on Valentine's Day – it's good for you.
And, here's the fifth reason to give chocolate, or any candy, as a gift on Valentine's Day. On February 13 and 14, we will match each pound of candy purchased at our stores and online with a $1 donation to our local food security partners. These agencies take that dollar contribution and turn it into three meals for someone in need. On this Valentine's Day, we hope you will show your love for your sweetheart AND for your community.
Over the course of the last year, our neighbors have needed help just to put food on their tables. The pandemic has caused job losses or reductions in hours and has crushed many industries including tourism, dining, and retail. With your help through rounding up your purchases to the next dollar or through our Gift Cards for Good program, Mast Store has funneled over $64,000 to our food security partners. That's amazing, and we thank you for opening your hearts and your wallets.