Candy is pretty much synonymous with Valentine’s Day – in fact, February 14th is the third biggest holiday for both candy and chocolate sales in the U.S. And just as Easter has chocolate bunnies, Christmas has candy canes, and Halloween has candy corn, the most romantic day of the year has its own signature candies, like conversation hearts and, of course, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates.
The idea of giving chocolates in heart-shaped boxes on Valentine’s Day isn’t surprising. With chocolate being such a popular sweet treat, who wouldn’t want to receive a box full of it from the one they love? But how did this tradition actually get its start? From the historical roots of consumable chocolate to the more recent marketing campaigns that turned chocolate into a Valentine’s Day classic, keep reading to learn about the history of Valentine’s Day chocolate gifts.
Chocolate in ancient times
One of the earliest recordings of chocolate as a symbol of romantic love comes from ancient history. The Mayans began making a form of “hot chocolate” from cocoa beans around 500 BCE. This hot chocolate was an important part of many rituals, including weddings, at which the bride and groom would exchange sips of the beverage to celebrate their union. Though it probably didn’t taste much like our hot cocoa does today, it’s an early example of using chocolate to symbolize partnership.
The Aztecs also linked chocolate with love and desire, believing that it was an aphrodisiac. Though modern science does not support this theory, it nonetheless persisted in the Americas and Europe, helping cement chocolate’s reputation as a lover’s treat.
Valentine’s Day chocolate gifts
Though the roots of Valentine’s Day as a holiday are murky, it had become fairly popular in Europe by the mid 19th century. By then, it was possible to produce cards and gifts cheaply, and chocolate had become more affordable to the general public. Soon enough, chocolate went from being mostly drunk as a beverage to being sold in the forms of candies and chocolate bars en masse, including around gift-giving holidays like Valentine’s Day.
Cadbury makes history
Okay, so Valentine’s Day chocolates were a thing by the 1800s… but were they always sold in heart-shaped boxes? Not quite.
You can thank England’s beloved chocolate brand Cadbury for changing the world of Valentine’s Day chocolate gifts forever. In the 1860s, during the height of the Victorian era, Cadbury invented the very first heart-shaped chocolate box. After the chocolates had been eaten, the boxes were intended to be used to store sentimental items like love letters, gifts, or locks of hair, all popular practices in Victorian culture. (While we wouldn’t recommend storing human hair in a chocolate box, the Victorians at least had the right idea about reusing candy containers!)
More than just chocolate
If your loved one wouldn’t appreciate a Valentine’s Day chocolate gift, don’t worry – there’s a whole world of Valentine’s Day candy to remind them just how sweet they are. In fact, you could even forego candy altogether if your better half doesn’t have a sweet tooth – but we hope that’s not the case! For the adventurous sweet tooth, there’s so much more out there than just chocolates and conversation hearts. So if you’re looking for something a little out of the (chocolate) box, look no further than the unique gourmet candies at Candy Club.
Our selection of Valentine’s Day candies has something for everyone, from gummies and sours to caramels, taffy, frosted pretzel bites, and more. What better way to send some love than with a cup of Sour Smooches or gummy Love Letters? Shop our whole Valentine’s Day collection today.