9 Facts about Chocolate and Love for World Chocolate Day (with pictures!)
All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.
— Charles M. Schulz, creator of 'Peanuts'
This famous saying from legendary cartoonist Charles M. Schultz is just part of the long-shared history between chocolate and love. Chocolate desserts are the finale for many a romantic dinner and, for millions, it just wouldn't be Valentine's Day without a box of something sweet (more on that later).
But is the connection between chocolate and romance so strong that it can actually affect your love life? And just how did chocolate become such a symbol of love? Just in time for World Chocolate Day (aka International Chocolate Day), we've found out 9 fun facts about chocolate and love. Grab yourself a bar of the good stuff, curl up, and dig in!
9 Facts About Chocolate and Love
1. The scent of chocolate can make you more likely to buy a romance novel
Drawn towards the romance section of the bookstore? Proximity to the cafe might be one explanation. In 2013, Belgian researchers conducted an experiment where they pumped chocolate smells around a local bookstore and then analyzed shopper's behavior. When the store smelled of chocolate, sales of romance novels and cookbooks rose 40% higher than when the store didn't have the scent. Interestingly, other sales rose too - but not nearly as high.1
2. Chocolate can get you more worked up than passionate kissing
In 2007, a study looked at couple's brainwaves and heartbeats while they rested, while they kissed, and while they ate chocolate. Researchers found that kissing made their hearts beat faster than the resting rate - but that chocolate made them beat faster still! What's more, those that let the chocolate melt in their mouth also saw a surge in brain activity that the BBC described as ''far more intense and longer lasting than the excitement seen with kissing.''2
3. 2018 is the 150th anniversary of the heart-shaped chocolate box
Received a heart-shaped box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day? You can thank Richard Cadbury, an Englishman who helped create the famous Cadbury's chocolate brand. In 1861 he got the idea to design ‘Fancy Boxes’ - chocolate boxes covered in Cupids and roses. In 1868, Cadbury started making heart-shaped versions for Valentine’s Day and people began using them as a place to store love letters. That means they've been linked with love for 150 years!3
4. Americans buy millions of heart-shaped chocolate boxes every Valentine's Day
They may have been invented in England, but it's Americans who've taken heart-shaped chocolate boxes into their, well, hearts. In fact, just in the US alone, around 40 million such boxes are sold every Valentine's Day.4 Richard Cadbury would be proud.
5. Even Casanova believed that chocolate was an aphrodisiac...
Legendary philanderer Giacomo Casanova was not the sort of man who would make you dream of a white picket fence. However, you can assume that, with his appetites, he knew his aphrodisiac foods. His favorite? Hot chocolate. In fact, the story says that he referred to humble hot chocolate as 'The Elixir of Love' and preferred it to champagne as a tool of flirtation.5
6. But you'd have to eat 25lbs of chocolate at a time to feel the aphrodisiac effects!
Yet, science has shown that Casanova's chocolatey motivaton may have been mostly psychological. Among the chemicals in dark chocolate are those which have been shown to boost serotonin and dopamine, and thus elevate mood in a way that feels like a romantic rush. But, chocolate doesn't have enough of these boosters to have an immediate effect. In fact, researchers have estimated that you'd need to eat 25lbs in one sitting to feel overcome!6
7. Love can make chocolate (and water) taste sweeter
One weird sign that you're falling in love is that food and drink might start to taste sweeter. A set of 2013 studies compared the tastes of a neutral group with groups of participants induced to feel love, jealousy, and happiness. Each group was asked to rank the sweetness of certain foods, like chocolate and even water. The neutral, jealous, and happy groups ranked the foods similarly - but the love group's rankings were consistently higher on the sweet scale.7
8. Hershey's Kisses are named after a kissing sound - but it's not as romantic as it sounds
Ever wondered why Hershey's Kisses are called kisses? It might not be as romantic as you imagined! In fact, the kisses are so-named because the machine that pushes them out makes a 'kissing' sound each time the chocolate touches the conveyor belt.8 Romantic or not, they're undeniably the most popular form of chocolate kiss; The Hershey Company makes around 60 million of them every day.9
9. Chocolate can make singles fantasize about love
Single this World Chocolate Day? Why not eat some chocolate? It might even get you in the mood for dating, as shown by a 2014 study that looked at the effects of snack foods on the romantic thoughts of single people. Researchers found that singles who ate chocolatey Oreos were more likely to start picturing hypothetical loving relationships than those who ate salty chips. What’s more, the relationships were more likely to be described positively.10
From Casanova to Cadbury, and from pounding hearts to heart-shaped boxes, it's clear that chocolate and love have been a match made in heaven for most of history. So why not celebrate that connection this World Chocolate Day, and share a bar with someone you love? Don't worry - it still counts if the person you love and share with is yourself!