Today, chocolate is an essential part of Valentine’s Day. Whether it’s found in the candy aisle or made in your own kitchen, heart shaped chocolates in heart shaped boxes remind us that chocolate and love go hand in hand. This association is nothing new. Chocolate has been considered an aphrodisiac for hundreds of years. An English verse printed in 1652 explained that chocolate:
‘Twill make old women Young and Fresh;
Create new notions of the flesh,
And cause them long for you know what,
If they but taste of chocolate.”
However, in spite of chocolate’s romantic reputation it was associated with Valentine’s Day in colonial America, which was a very different holiday than it is today. Rather than serving as an occasion to celebrate existing relationships, Valentine’s Day in the 1700s was more likely to be recognized by young people who hoped to divine the identity of their future spouses through a bit of Valentine’s Day magic.
Instead of chocolates, one Valentine’s Day practice described in 1754 called for foods we certainly wouldn’t associate with the holiday today, bay leaves and hard boiled eggs:
Last Friday was St. Valentine’s Day, and the night before I got five bay leaves and pinned four on the corners of my pillow, and the fifth to the middle; and then if I dreamt of my sweetheart, Betty said we should be married before the year was out. But to make it more sure I boiled an egg hard and took out the yolk and filled it with salt; and when I went to bed ate it shell and all without speaking or drinking after it.
However you celebrate it, happy Valentine’s Day from everyone at Captain Jackson’s Historic Chocolate Shop!