Valentine’s Day is almost here, and sweets for your sweetie are a tradition that goes waaaayyyy back!!
According to Smithsonian magazine, Valentine’s Day and romantic love were first connected by Geoffrey Chaucer in 1382. Unfortunately for Chaucer, and whoever his lady at the time may have been, sugar was still prohibitively expensive, and considered a luxury for the few. She may have received a Valentine message of love, but it certainly didn’t come with chocolates or other sweet treats!
No, for that we can thank an early chocolate genius whose name still resonates on every holiday that includes his masterpiece – Richard Cadbury. (Although we’re still not sold on those goop-filled eggs from the clucking bunny. Those must be an acquired taste.)
Chocolate as we know it was not yet “a thing”. Brought from the new world as an often bitter drink (originally mixed with hot peppers rather than sugar!), chocolate was popular, but not necessarily tasty. Cadbury had been looking for a way to incorporate pure cocoa butter, which he had learned to extract, into the drink to make it more… well… appetizing.
He invented “eating chocolates”.
Clearly a genius at marketing as well as invention (and plain old good taste!), he packaged his new creation in boxes we’d recognize even today. Heart-shaped, with rosebuds and cupids for decoration, these gifts of love and flavor made their appearance in 1861 and changed Valentine’s Day forever.
But the true explosion of chocolate for Valentine’s Day might be traced to Clara Stover. In 1923, she began wrapping her “Bungalow Candies”. Soon after, she moved with her husband Russell to the midwest where they opened factories and started mass producing Valentine’s boxes and selling them to department stores. To this day, Russell Stover is the biggest name in boxed chocolates in America.
We’re just thankful for those chocolate pioneers and the trails they blazed for the rest of us!
As lovers of chocolate – and lovers of love! – we’ve made our own little advancement that we’re quite proud of… the chocolate box of chocolates! This Valentine’s Day, give sweets to your sweet in a way that we feel even Richard Cadbury would admire!
And unlike the pretty cardboard hearts, these taste as good as they look!