Chocolate & Passion on Valentine’s Day
Throughout history, chocolate has been a symbol of love. Perhaps one reason is that chocolate releases happy little chemicals in your brain and makes your heart crave luxury. Originally, the passion we have for chocolate as a society began in Mesoamerica.
Since chocolate was highly-priced and prized among the Mayan and Aztec civilizations, only the upper class could afford to partake in the luxuries. Cacao beans were even used as currency, being as valuable as gold.
Moving onto the early 1600s, the lust for chocolate had swept over Europe. Like coffee houses, chocolate houses were beginning to spring up all over! Of course, in France, royalty took chocolate and love to another level. Madame du Barry, Maîtresse-en-titre of Louis XV of France, was said to have mixed chocolate and amber to stimulate her lovers.
Chocolate’s Affiliation with Romance
Take a step back. Let’s reflect on the romance of ancient civilizations. In Mayan culture, there was a marriage ritual called “tac haa.” During this ceremony, the potential groom would serve a chocolate drink to the father of the woman he wants to marry. Further on in the actual wedding ceremony, if the father of the bride accepted this young man’s offering, the bride and groom would exchange five cacao beans with each other. Chocolate and courtship are very much entangled.
All throughout popular art, the act of presenting chocolate to someone automatically makes us think of romance. Chocolate has aphrodisiac qualities.
What is an aphrodisiac? The word comes from the Greek goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite. If a food or drink is an aphrodisiac, it means that it stimulates sexual desire on a chemical level. For example, in Ancient Rome, the festival of Lupercalia involved chocolate because it was thought to aid in increased fertility.
Romance Through Chocolate
Inside chocolate, there are two chemicals linked to desire and arousal:
Tryptophan, a building block of serotonin
Serotonin, a chemical that causes arousal and good feelings
Phenylethylamine, a stimulant released by lovely emotions
While chocolate, whether it be caramel-filled or very dark, contains small amounts of the aforementioned chemicals, there is not quite enough physical stimulation happening when you eat chocolate for the little truffles to cause feelings of desire. The arousal that occurs is overwhelmingly psychological. Simply put, we experience romantic feelings when we eat chocolate because of the assumptions we place on it.
The act of receiving a decadent box of chocolates can cause even more emotion than actually savoring each piece. Opening an elegant box of carefully selected chocolates sends all kids of euphoric chemicals into the mind. If you’re searching for an amazing, gourmet gift for someone special, be sure to check out these top gifts for Valentine’s Day and world class truffles for the rest of the year.