Where Did The Heart-Shaped Box Originate?

Where Did The  Heart-Shaped Box Originate?

Although Valentine’s Day can be traced back to Roman times, the tradition—or some would argue, requirement—of giving chocolate to a loved one on this holiday is a much more recent idea.

Up until the early 1800s, chocolate was primarily consumed as a drink: think hot chocolate. However, at this time Europeans were starting to get over chocolate due to its greasiness, until a Dutch chemist discovered how to remove cocoa butter from roasted cocoa beans, thus removing the undesirable consistency. With all this excess cocoa butter now available, British chocolatier Richard Cadbury learned how to perfect his recipe for what was then called “eating chocolate,” shortly after taking over the family business in 1861. He added a small amount of clarified cocoa butter back into the cocoa solids along with sugar and a few other ingredients. This made the chocolate moldable, meltable, and, since it could easily be mass produced, affordable.

It turns out that timing is everything. Within the past few decades, Valentine’s Day had become a more commercialized holiday punctuated with gift-giving and card exchanging, so Richard Cadbury made the brilliant decision in 1868 to sell his new chocolates in heart-shaped boxes: beautifully decorated ones that people could hold on to long after the chocolate was gone to store love letters or other momentos. Since he didn’t patent the idea, we now have heart-shaped boxes of Russel Stover chocolates, Godiva chocolates, and even M&Ms, providing a plethora of options of the ultimate go-to gift for your chocolate-loving lover.

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