Why Do We Give Chocolate For Valentine’s Day?

cclickclick, iStock via Getty Images
cclickclick, iStock via Getty Images

It's impossible to navigate virtually any kind of retail store in February without seeing displays of pink and red chocolate boxes around every corner. Chocolate has become a standard Valentine's Day gift, right up there with flowers and jewelry, but the treat didn't develop its romantic reputation overnight. It took centuries of myths, marketing, and traditions to write chocolate into Valentine's Day history.

The first people to connect love and chocolate were the Mayans. They started brewing drinks made from cocoa beans around 500 BCE—centuries before the first Feast of St. Valentine. This early hot chocolate was an important part of Mayan wedding rituals. The bride and groom would exchange sips of the beverage during the ceremony, foreshadowing chocolate's future status as a universal expression of love.

The Aztecs had a less wholesome view of the ingredient. According to legend, the emperor Montezuma II binged huge quantities of cocoa beans to fuel his romantic affairs. Chocolate does contain small amounts of tryptophan and phenylethylamine, two chemicals associated with feelings love and desire, but scientists say there isn't enough of either substance to make chocolate a strong aphrodisiac.

Stories of chocolate's effects in the bedroom persisted nonetheless, which might explain why candy-sellers embraced the sweet treats when Valentine's Day became popular. Cadbury debuted the first heart-shaped box of chocolates in 1861, and it was an instant success. The package was embellished with cupids and roses to appeal to customers shopping for Valentine's Day gifts. And once the box was empty, it could be used to store keepsakes like love letters and locks of hair.

Cadbury didn't patent the heart-shaped chocolate box, so the rest of the candy industry started manufacturing similar packaging of their own. It wasn't long before chocolates became synonymous with the newly-commercialized holiday.

Valentine's Day chocolates are exchanged around the world, but they're attached to interesting traditions in some countries. Thanks to a successful marketing campaign, women in Japan have to give "obligation chocolates" to all the men they know on February 14. Here are more international Valentine's Day customs.

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Wayfair’s Fourth of July Clearance Sale Takes Up to 60 Percent Off Grills and Outdoor Furniture

Wayfair/Weber
Wayfair/Weber

This Fourth of July, Wayfair is making sure you can turn your backyard into an oasis while keeping your bank account intact with a clearance sale that features savings of up to 60 percent on essentials like chairs, hammocks, games, and grills. Take a look at some of the highlights below.

Outdoor Furniture

Brisbane bench from Wayfair
Brisbane/Wayfair

- Jericho 9-Foot Market Umbrella $92 (Save 15 percent)
- Woodstock Patio Chairs (Set of Two) $310 (Save 54 percent)
- Brisbane Wooden Storage Bench $243 (Save 62 percent)
- Kordell Nine-Piece Rattan Sectional Seating Group with Cushions $1800 (Save 27 percent)
- Nelsonville 12-Piece Multiple Chairs Seating Group $1860 (Save 56 percent)
- Collingswood Three-Piece Seating Group with Cushions $410 (Save 33 percent)

Grills and Accessories

Dyna-Glo electric smoker.
Dyna-Glo/Wayfair

- Spirit® II E-310 Gas Grill $479 (Save 17 percent)
- Portable Three-Burner Propane Gas Grill $104 (Save 20 percent)
- Digital Bluetooth Electric Smoker $224 (Save 25 percent)
- Cuisinart Grilling Tool Set $38 (Save 5 percent)

Outdoor games

American flag cornhole game.
GoSports

- American Flag Cornhole Board $57 (Save 19 percent)
- Giant Four in a Row Game $30 (Save 6 percent)
- Giant Jenga Game $119 (Save 30 percent)

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The Reason Your Dog Follows You Everywhere

Crew, Unsplash
Crew, Unsplash

Depending on your mood, a dog that follows you everywhere can be annoying or adorable. The behavior is also confusing if you're not an expert on pet behavior. So what is it about the canine companions in our lives that makes them stick by our sides at all times?

Most experts agree on a few different reasons why some dogs are clingy around their owners. One is their pack mentality. Dogs may have been domesticated thousands of years ago, but they still consider themselves to be part of a group like their wild ancestors. When there are no other dogs around, their human family becomes their pack. According to Reader's Digest, this genetic instinct is also what motivates dogs to watch you closely and seek out your physical touch.

The second reason for the behavior has to do with the bond between you and your pet. As veterinarian Dr. Rachel Barrack told the American Kennel Club, puppies as old as 6 months can imprint on their human owners like they would their own mothers. Even older dogs will bond with the humans in their lives who show them care and affection. In these cases, a dog will shadow its owner because it sees them as an object of trust and security.

The last possible explanation for why your dog follows you has more to do with your treatment of them than their natural instincts. A popular training tactic is positive reinforcement—i.e. rewarding a dog with treats, pets, and praise when they perform positive behaviors. The point is to help your dog associate good behaviors with rewards, but after a while, they may start to associate your presence with rewards as well. That means if your dog is following you, they may be looking for treats or attention.

A clingy dog may be annoying, but it usually isn't a sign of a larger problem. If anything, it means your dog sees you in a positive light. So enjoy the extra companionship, and don't be afraid to close the door behind when you need some alone time.