Elixir of love? Why chocolate is the Valentine’s Day go-to

by Trish Rudder

Valentine’s Day and chocolate have a long history. When we think of Valentine’s Day, we think of romance. And chocolate.

Chocolate was called the “elixir of love” by the famous 18th century lover, Casanova. But as a symbol of love, chocolate goes back even further in ancient Mesoamerican history. Among Aztec aristocrats, chocolate was regarded as a luxury that was enjoyed as a drink made of cocoa beans, cornmeal, honey, chilies and vanilla, and was believed to be a powerful aphrodisiac.

“In the Aztec civilization, the ‘food of the Gods’ was a prized commodity that was worth as much as gold – cacao beans were even used as currency to pay taxes,” according to Nemo’s Bakery, an internet website.

Spanish explorers brought chocolate back to Spain in the 1500s and the chocolate drinks spread across Europe.

“Royalty in countries like France and Great Britain thought that chocolate was a magical drink,” according to the Readworks Passages website.

Chocolatiers began refining the cocoa extraction process that allowed them to produce mass quantities of chocolate that was affordable to the middle class.

Valentine’s Day had been celebrated by sharing poems, songs and roses. But in the 1800s in Great Britain, Richard Cadbury, whose family made chocolates, put the chocolates in boxes and covered the boxes with hearts and cupids. The boxes were reused to hold love letters and other mementos and since then, Valentine’s Day and chocolates became a perfect match.

In 1907 in America, chocolate entrepreneur, Milton Hershey introduced the famous teardrop-shaped chocolate kisses, “which got their name from the kissing sounds the machines made during production,” according to Nemo’s Bakery.

Hershey had been making caramel candy and began covering them with chocolate. His company introduced Hershey Chocolate Bars before Hershey Chocolate Kisses.

According to a 2018 survey, 94% of Americans said they hope to receive chocolates or candy for Valentine’s Day and 69% of Americans prefer chocolate over a bouquet of flowers.

If you’re making Valentine’s Day special for your loved ones (and your significant other), it should not be an expensive endeavor and it should be simple to prepare. A garlicky pasta dish, a salad and most importantly —  a good chocolate dessert  — will round out a nice celebratory dinner.

P.S. If you’re not the cook preparing this meal, don’t come empty-handed. Get a Valentine’s Day card and a box of good candy to show your appreciation.


Linguine with Shrimp Scampi

(3 servings)

¾ lb. linguine

1 lb. large shrimp (about 16) peeled and deveined

3 TB. butter

2-1/2 TB. olive oil

1-1/2 TB. minced garlic (4 cloves)

1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes

1-1/2 tsp. salt

¼  tsp. black pepper

1/3 cup chopped parsley

½ lemon zest, grated

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)


Cook linguine in salted boiling water according to package directions. Meanwhile, in another large (12-inch) heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and sauté for one minute, being careful not to burn the garlic as it can burn easily.  Add red pepper flakes. Add the shrimp, the salt, and pepper, and sauté until the shrimp just turns pink, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat and add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice and toss to combine.

When pasta is done, drain the cooked linguine and put it back in the pot. Immediately add the shrimp and sauce and toss well and serve.

Recipe by Ina Garten.


Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

(Nine ½ cup servings)

This recipe used to be on the back of the box of  Hershey’s Unsweetened Cocoa Powder.

1-1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided

1 cup flour

½ cup Hershey’s Cocoa, divided

2 t. baking powder

¼ t. salt

½ cup milk

1/3 cup butter, melted

1-1/2 t. vanilla

½ cup light brown sugar, packed

1-1/4 cup hot water


Heat oven to 350 degrees.  In mixing bowl, combine ¾ cup sugar, flour, ¼ cup cocoa, baking powder and salt. Stir in milk, butter and vanilla; beat until smooth. Spread batter in ungreased 9-inch baking pan. In separate bowl, stir together remaining ½ cup sugar, brown sugar and remaining ¼ cup cocoa. Sprinkle mixture evenly over batter. Pour hot water over top; do not stir.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until center is almost set. Remove from oven; let stand 15 minutes. Serve in dessert dishes, spooning sauce from bottom of pan over top. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.

Recipe by Hershey.