So, we know that it has something to do with good old St Valentine but why and what has chocolate got to do with it? So apparently, Valentine performed secret marriages back in the fourth century when Emperor Claudius II (the miserable bastard) had outlawed them. Valentine was caught and executed on the 14th February…..
But how did our favourite treat get involved and why is chocolate so associated with love?
Chocolate contains a number of psychoactive chemicals, including a neurotransmitter called anandamide. The word comes from Sanskrit and means "joy, bliss or delight". Anandamides stimulate the brain in a similar way to cannabis. And while no proof exists that chocolate is an aphrodisiac, it does containphenylethylamine, a mild mood booster that our brain produces when we feel happy or in love.
The cacao loving Aztecs who considered Cacao the food of The Gods had been drinking it for ages. Their ruler, Montezuma, ‘’so believed that chocolate was an aphrodisiac, that he purportedly drank 50 golden goblets of it each day’’ according to the Food Lover’s Companion.
So, we now know a bit about the chemistry, but what about the feel of chocolate? According to a recent study by psychologist David Lewis, letting chocolate dissolve slowly in your mouth produces as big an increase in brain activity and heart rate as a passionate kiss—but the effects of the chocolate last four times longer! Dr Mosley (love a bit of Dr Mosely) also suggests, that the feel of the chocolate is an integral part of its pleasure. The way it melts quickly on your tongue and leaves a smooth richness is no doubt very enjoyable. "Special touch receptors on our tongues detect this textural change, which then stimulates feelings of pleasure." The smell and look of chocolate (especially melted) is deeply satisfying and luxurious.
So, we start to see the link between chocolate and sex and love. In fact, one Italian study found that women who had a daily chocolate treat reported higher sexual desire than those who did without. I’m not sure I can make this claim with Cao, but some have suggested some quite interesting naughty ideas for its use!
Sadly a survey by Cadburys (possibly take this with a pinch of cacao)- found that 52% percent of the women surveyed said they'd choose chocolate over sex. One of the women said, "Chocolate provides guaranteed pleasure." This seems pretty sad, let’s try to have a bit of both this Valentines! The Cadbury’s saw an opportunity early on and started selling chocolates in a heart shaped box in the 1860’s.
Whatever the science and history, there are few people who wouldn’t be delighted with chocolate as a present, especially with the fantastic array of beautiful hand-crafted offerings to suit all preferences and requirements that are available today. So, this February the 14th, let’s celebrate these wonderful and innovative artisans that lovingly create our favourite treat.
Our centuries-old love affair with the cocoa bean continues!