The cocoa connection dates back to ancient history. In fact, chocolate has been around almost as long as man.
All the while, chocolate was gaining popularity not only for its decadence, but also for its reputed aphrodisiac properties. Today, we know that chocolate contains phenylethylamine, a naturally occurring amino-acid – the same one that we humans release when we are falling in love. Chocolate also contains tryptophan, a building block of serotonin, which is one of the brain chemicals involved in sexual arousal. No wonder eating chocolate feels so good. And with researchers now touting the heart-healthy benefits of eating dark chocolate, what’s not to love?
But even before modern science, chocolate enthusiasts have been clued in to the good feelings that come from eating (or imbibing) cocoa beans. The Aztec emperor Montezuma was said to have drank copious amounts of the ground beans to increase his sexual prowess. And during Mesoamerican marriage ceremonies, the couple is said to have shared a ritual cup of cocoa, believing that it would increase their luck in love.
It should be no surprise, then, that chocolate has become – or rather, remained – an edible symbol of love. Nor is it too surprising that chocolate makers
have capitalized on this natural association.