Whether or not chocolate truly possesses aphrodisiac powers, it is certain that chocolate lovers are passionate about their love for the sweet treat, a fact well known since Mayan times when it is said that Mayan men used 8 cacao beans to pay for prostitute services. Meanwhile, Aztec ruler Montezuma reportedly drank as much as 50 cups of a cocoa elixir before visiting his harem!
Giacomo Casanova (1725 –1798) seemed to agree with Montezuma and credited chocolate for giving him the energy to pursue his lust for the ladies. He is also said to have touted “dark chocolate’s sweet, complex and sensual pleasure as 2nd only to champagne among the world’s finest aphrodisiacs.”
Medieval Spaniards, however, condemned the drink as more than “mid-evil” during the Inquisition, when numerous women were condemned for (supposedly) using magic potions hidden in chocolate drinks to make them impotent.
Today millions of heart-shaped boxes filled with chocolates of all conceivable shapes and confections are sold every Valentine’s Day to “bewitch” women into believing they are loved by men around the world.
And although Richard Cadbury (son of Cadbury founder John Cadbury) is credited with coming up with the idea to create a heart-shaped box adorned with, cupids, bows and flowers specifically to be given on Valentine’s Day beginning in 1861, Victorian gentlemen often used chocolate as a potential instrument for seduction. In fact, etiquette books and chocolate advertisers during the 1860’s were noted to tout the giving of chocolates between a man and a woman as “tantamount to a declaration of love.”
At the same time, “proper” young ladies were warned never accept chocolates ‘from gentlemen to whom they are neither related nor engaged due to its association with “courtship, and sex.” It was equally frowned upon for a woman to give men chocolate as a gift, although the most “daring” did offer suitors a “taste” from the boxes given to them.
Meanwhile, food historians such as Professor Rebecca Earle of Warwick University have commented how the idea of elaborately dressing boxes of the candy with lace, crinoline, and silk seemed to have “mimicked the garments worn by women of the era, “ and wondered whether the idea was purposely meant to act as an underlying sexual symbol that the candy boxes “masked the ‘sweet reward’ a suitor hoped to taste for himself” in response to his courtship.”
Although the majority of chocolate exchanged on Valentine’s Day today has more to do with tradition than seduction, contemporary researcher Michael Liebowitz of the New York State Psychiatric institute proved that the phenylethylamine (PEA) in chocolate releases the same hormone as does sexual intercourse, while other scientists. acknowledge that chocolate produces natural opiates in the brain.
Additionally, while studies at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego showed that 3 chemical compounds in chocolate act like THC (the active chemical in marijuana) stirring the brain to produce dopamine, the National Institute of Mental Health released its own report stating that a person weighing 130 lb “would have to consume “approximately 25 lbs all at once to experience any marijuana-like buzz.” It should also be noted that 100 grams of milk chocolate add up to 540 calories.
Chocolate (the darker the better) has also been found to contain various antioxidants similar to those found in green tea and red wine. The FDA also notes that 100 grams of milk chocolate contains19% of the Daily Value (DV) of riboflavin, vitamin B12 as well as 10-19% DV of calcium, magnesium, and iron.
However, a 100 gram serving of milk chocolate is also made up of 59% carbohydrates (52% as sugar and 3% as dietary fiber), 65% saturated fat (palmitic acid and stearic acid), unsaturated fat (most of which is oleic acid), and 8% protein. As a result over-consumption of chocolate can lead to a number of health issues in addition to obesity, including constipation, diabetes, heart problems, and allergies.