Eating Chocolate for A Sexier Valentine's Day: Fact or Legend?
This week we've got Vday questions and some sexy answers! Does chocolate really boost our romance? What can Chica do for you this Valentine's Day? (Image: by Ryan McGinley)
Cassidy: To My Chocolatier Chick,
Since it’s February, and we’re trying to harness the Valentine’s Day chocolate craze, I’ve been thinking a lot about chocolate. At first, this was surface level curiosity. I wanted to know why chocolate has the cultural and culinary significance that it does, and why, exactly, chocolate is a go-to for Valentine’s day.
A cursory search yielded the conclusion that there is no single answer to that question. Most sources point to the chemical compounds present in chocolate as the party responsible for the cocoa-romance association: the phenylethylamine found in chocolate is the same chemical released in the brain when people fall in love. Chocolate is also said to trigger the release of seratonin and endorphins, our happy drugs. Either way, the chemical stimulants in chocolate seem to be doing something.
Other published research claims that it is the sweetness of chocolate that cultivates the romantic association: participants in this study saw a direct correlation between sweet-taste experiences and the expression of romantic interest in a nonestablished relationship. Whether or not that is sufficient evidence to validate its common use as a Valentine’s gift is debatable.
An article by the New York Times decisively pops the myth that chocolate is an aphrodisiac, and claims that the connection between cocoa and sexual desire is weak at best. There is no conclusive evidence that the chemical properties of chocolate are powerful enough to influence human behavior, so maybe we are misguided in looking at chocolate itself as the source of the cocoa craze. It might be more worthwhile to investigate the social and cultural evolution of chocolate consumption instead.
Chocolate’s history as a “love food” is said to have begun in early Mesoamerican cultures: fermented cacao beverages were favored among the elite classes, and Aztec emperor Montezuma allegedly used the beans to “fuel his romantic trysts.” As a form of currency, and a luxury drink, chocolate took Europe by storm in the early 1600s. However, “eating chocolates” didn’t catch hold until Richard Cadbury manufactured them in the 1860s. This new cocoa creation occurred in conjunction with the commercial craze that was populating around Valentine’s Day--Cadbury put their edible chocolates in heart shaped boxes as a clever marketing ploy. Hershey kisses and Russell Stover lingerie boxes further enforced the chocolate-as-a-vessel-for-romance as a cultural norm.
Kinda crazy, huh? I still don’t feel fully satisfied by this evolution of chocolate as a Valentine’s staple. Mostly, I’m just excited to find out that Marie Antoinette and Madame du Barry were into functional chocolate: they had chocolate makers infuse their treats with orchid bulbs for nerves or amber for libido. Do you think they would have been into Chica?
Love (and chocolate),
P.S. This letter is all about the romantic face of chocolate, but I think it is worth mentioning its dark underbelly as well. I remember you swearing off Hershey’s in the 8th grade because of the cocoa industry’s reliance on slave labor and human trafficking. While we take care to ensure that our Chica chocolate is ethically sourced, I am still anticipating the day where we can directly source our own. I am still researching possible cacao leads in Chile!
Elise: To My Spicy Sweetheart,
What do you mean chocolate might not be the sexiest food on Earth?? My first thoughts are of the classic, sexy film, Chocolat, in which the leading chocolatier, Vianne, changes the sex life of at least one couple in a proper, conservative French village. However, to your point, this wasn't just cocoa. Vianne creates a variety of functional chocolates and her libido boosting truffles were an ancient Mayan mix of cocoa and pepper. The use of chili peppers is no surprise, as the heat of the chili peppers does the work for us of increasing body temperature and heart rate. Just remember to wash your hands before enjoying the benefits of freshly consumed peppers!
Now, we don't use chili peppers in Chica, but our formula does relieve Liver Qi stagnation. This stagnation shows up as decreased libido for many people, so eating Chica may boost your sex drive! (hint, hint: Use CHICALOVE before Valentine's Day for 20% off Chica). Releasing our liver qi stagnation also helps regulate our menstrual cycle and balance our moods. A key to boosting libido is increasing blood flow, which most of our ingredients do. Our one spicy ingredient, in particular, ginger, is already praised in Western herbalism for its spicy sex drive benefits, along with boosting our immune system and nourishing our brains! It looks like Chica's benefits can be enjoyed with our partners as well as ourselves...
Love to all my sexy friends, alone and with others,