Valentine's Day is undoubtedly a day about love...and chocolate. Lots of chocolate. In fact, recent trends predict that American consumers will purchase more than 58 million pounds of chocolate during Valentine's week this year.

In total, their candy spending could add up to a hefty $1.7 billion. That's an unfathomable amount of heart-shaped chocolate boxes. But it hasn't always been like this. So how did Americans—and Europeans—come to inextricably link chocolate and Valentine's Day?

milk, chocolate
Alma Wang

Chocolate originated in ancient Mesoamerican cultures, where cacao beans were considered a valuable commodity. By the 1600s, chocolate spread to and became fashionable across Europe, especially among aristocrats. Marie Antoinette loved this sweet treat so much that she brought her personal chocolatier to Versailles Palace in 1770. 

Valentine's Day began as a romantic holiday in Europe in the 1300s, but Europeans didn't celebrate the day with chocolate until the nineteenth-century Victorian Era. Then, Victorians became obsessed with exchanging Cupid and heart-adorned cards and gifts on Valentine's Day.

Luckily for chocolate-lovers everywhere, Richard Cadbury saw a golden opportunity. He had recently invented a technique for extracting cocoa butter from cacao beans, and he used the excess cocoa butter to produce "eating chocolates." In 1861, he began selling these treats in heart-shaped boxes that became wildly popular.

chocolate candy, milk chocolate, sweet, candy, milk, chocolate
Jared Sebby

Then, at the beginning of the twentieth century, the United States took off with the commercialization of Valentine's Day. In 1907, Milton Hershey invented and mass-produced the affordable, tear-shaped chocolate "kisses" that are still so widely-consumed today.

In the 1920s, Russel Stover Chocolates began selling heart-shaped chocolate boxes in U.S. department stores and is now the top seller of boxed-chocolate in the country.

Alma Wang

Today, the Valentine's Day chocolate market is booming more than ever, especially since the amount of money Americans spent on Valentine's day gifts reached an all-time high last year.

Clearly, chocolate and Valentine's Day are a successful match made in commercialized heaven. And I think it's safe to say that they won't be breaking up anytime soon.

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Christine Chang