Valentine's and Chocolate: What's love got to do with it?
CBC News Online | February 12, 2004
Valentine's Day, the mid-winter celebration of love, is named for three St. Valentines, all of whom died horrible martyr's deaths years and years ago. So what's the big deal about Valentine's Day and chocolate?
The three St. Valentines all died before chocolate arrived on the shores of the Old World. The best sources say chocolate came from the ancient Aztecs in what is now Mexico, where it was considered a royal aphrodisiac.
Thus, from Chaucer's "Parliament of Foules," we have:
"For this was seynt on Valentyne's day
Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate"
Early on, in France, chocolate was considered a "barbarous and noxious drug," until the French court embraced it after the Paris faculty of medicine approved it as a beneficial potion.
In 1569, Pope Pius V considered cocoa liquid so vile tasting that he declared the drinking of it would not break the communion fast.
Back then, most chocolate was consumed, and appreciated, in liquid form. The Aztec king Montezuma drank liquid chocolate all day to enhance his libido.
Studies have shown that dark chocolate helps prevent heart disease and cancer. It has also been shown to improve mood by boosting the brain chemical serotonin, much like Prozac and its many mood-enhancing clones.
Some consider chocolate an effective diet food, claiming that a chunk of chocolate taken before meals diminishes one's appetite.
And, lest we forget, on Feb. 14, 1929 Al Capone's gang gunned down seven members of Bugs Moran's gang in Chicago in what is remembered as "The St. Valentine's Day Massacre." It had nothing to do with chocolate.