It is believed that in the 17th century, lovers began exchanging mementos on St. Valentine’s Day, perhaps heeding the words of Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “Sweets to the sweet.” Feb. 14 continues to be a day to celebrate love, and what a better way to do that than with delicious, decadent food, often with a chocolate theme.
As an elixir for love, chocolate has been believed throughout history to bring smiles to the broken-hearted and to prompt amorous feelings in both men and women. It is believed that Madame Du Barry served it to all her suitors; Casanova consumed chocolate instead of champagne to induce romance; and Montezuma, the king of the ancient Aztecs, believed chocolate would make him virile. In the 1800s physicians commonly advised their lovelorn patients to eat chocolate to calm their pining.
According to the National Confectioners Assn., more than 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are sold for Valentine’s Day. Non-confectioners want in on this love of chocolate, and many have come up with their own signature concepts. For example, the Dairy Queen system offers the Choco Covered Strawberry Blizzard as its Treat of the Month in February along with custom-decorated heart shaped cakes. Shatto Milk Co., Kansas City, Mo., recognizes Valentine’s Day with limited-edition Smooch Chocolate Cherry Milk.
The Valentine’s theme extends beyond chocolate. For the kids’ classroom party, General Mills Inc., Minneapolis, makes it easy to bake heart cookies with its Ready to Bake! refrigerated cookie dough. If breakfast in bed is what your lovey wants, there’s Hungry Jack Valentine’s Funfetti Buttermilk Pancake Mix from J.M. Smucker Co., Orville, Ohio. And for a nightcap in front of the fire, R.C. Bigelow Inc., Fairfield, Conn., offers Bigelow Sweetheart Cinnamon Tea.
Sweet Ways to Say I Love You
With an estimated $1.6 billion spent on candy for Valentine’s Day 2013, it’s no surprise confections continue to be the sweetest gift to give. Hershey Co., Hershey, Pa., introduces a number of new items for 2014. The Hershey’s Kisses Milk Chocolates Rose Cane is filled with Hershey’s Kisses Milk Chocolates in red, pink and silver foils. There’s also a Jolly Rancher Hard Candy Heart Box and a Hershey’s Solid Milk Chocolate Heart. The office candy dish can get festive with new Jolly Rancher Sours Hearts and Rolo Candies now in red, pink and gold foils.
Pinnacle Foods Corp., Parsippany, N.J., offers three Duncan Hines Decadent cupcake and frosting mixes so home bakers can celebrate Valentine’s Day with professional-quality desserts. Varieties are: Chocolate Lovers (devil’s food cake and chocolate frosting), Strawberry Cheesecake (strawberry cake and cream cheese frosting) and Red Velvet (red velvet cake and cream cheese frosting). Each box contains cupcake mix, frosting mix and a pastry bag for bakers to elegantly fill and top the baked cupcakes. The adventurous baker can use the mixes to make extra special treats such as chocolate molten lava cake or strawberry cheesecake truffles. Recipes are provided. The suggested retail price is $3.29.
Yogurt Smoothie for V-Day
White Plains, N.Y.-based Dannon Co. markets limited-edition Be Mine! Danimals Smoothie. Keeping with the holiday’s chocolate theme, this seasonal product comes in a chocolate strawberry flavor designed for young palates. Like other Danimals Smoothies, this variety contains no high-fructose corn syrup nor any artificial colors or flavors. The smoothies come in six-packs of 93ml kid-sized bottles. A single bottle contains 60 calories, 0.5g of fat, 10g of sugar and 2g of protein. Other seasonal flavors include Spooky Orange Cream for Halloween, Hoppin’ Mixed Berry Jean Bean for Easter and Chilly Frosted Cinnamon Roll for Christmas.