By Skylar Teddington
It’s that time of year again: Feb. 14 marks the arrival of Valentine’s Day across various parts of the world, and of course, you can’t mention Valentine’s Day without thinking about chocolate.
The practice of giving and receiving chocolate has become so normalized, it feels like it’s always been a part of Valentine’s Day celebrations. However, the holiday was created to honor Saint Valentine, so how did chocolate of all things manage to become a tradition? There are many answers to that question.
We are all familiar with the pretty boxes of chocolates adorning the shelf as soon as the New Year celebrations end each year, and there is one person can be credited with the creation of the iconic heart-shaped box of chocolates.
While giving gifts to loved ones was a common practice for many years prior to the 1800s, Valentine’s Day became a commercialized ordeal
during the Victorian Era when Richard Cadbury created “eating chocolates” from the cocoa butter that was left over from making “drinking chocolate.”
Cadbury packaged these chocolates into heart-shaped boxes that he designed himself using symbols that were already associated with Valentine’s Day.
Drawings of Cupid and roses adorned the boxes, making them a popular choice among those looking for gifts for their lovers— Smithsonian Magazine revealed that these gorgeous boxes were used to store mementos such as love letters.
Since then, boxes of chocolate have come a long way and now contain multiple flavors, fillings and box designs to suit almost anyone’s tastes.
There is also a scientific reason why chocolate is such a good gift. Like everything on Earth, chocolate is made from certain chemical compounds that contribute to how amazing it is.
According to chocolate retailer Bar & Cocoa, one chemical in particular, phenylethylamine, is what makes us happy when we eat chocolate.
Well, aside from chocolate’s delicious flavor, of course.
Phenylethylamine essentially encourages the brain to produce more serotonin, which is typically known as the “happy hormone.” This burst of serotonin makes us perk up whenever we have chocolate, making it the perfect snack to combat negative feelings.
Chocolate also contains caffeine, and caffeine is a stimulant, making chocolate an effective energy booster. These benefits in addition to chocolate’s great taste make it quite the appealing snack.
Perhaps the real reason why chocolate makes a great gift is because of how accessible it is. It can be found in any grocery store, convenience store, and even here on campus!
Chocolate is also inexpensive, so you don’t have to break your bank for a gift. In addition to its cheap price, chocolate is versatile, and can be used to make other things such as chocolate-dipped strawberries, chocolate cake, ice cream, hot cocoa, and more.
Most importantly, chocolate is almost universally well-received.
Even though there are those who may dislike one type of chocolate, they may like another type since each brand is different and there are multiple flavors available for anyone.
Chocolate may not be the healthiest option, but when consumed in moderation it makes for a lovely treat. It’s no wonder that chocolate became the gift of choice for Valentine’s Day. It is delicious, not very nutritious, and can make people happy, so enjoy your Valentine’s Day with some chocolate, Aggies.