I was down at King Soopers earlier today looking for a suitable Valentine’s Day card for someone special in my life and got distracted by all the boxes of chocolate on display.
Pretty much any chocolate sold as a Valentine’s Day gift is packaged in a heart shaped box.
Richard Cadbury is given credit for being the first chocolatier to package Valentine’s day chocolate in a heart shaped box. This was back in 1861, an era when chocolate was being widely promoted for its libido enhancing effects. Thus it was thought useful to consume or perhaps encourage consumption by someone special.
Richard, his brother George and their father John Cadbury were Quakers who viewed chocolate as a nourishing alternative to alcohol. They had purchased the Sloane’s Milk Chocolate secret recipe a few years earlier. We usually think of milk chocolate as a Swiss invention. The name Nestle’s is nearly synonymous with milk chocolate. Yet Henri Nestle’s method of adding condensed milk into chocolate did not come along until 1867. Milk chocolate goes much further back in history.
Sir Hans Sloane, London physician and President of the Royal Society, developed a recipe for a milk chocolate drink after traveling to Jamaica in 1687 as personal physician to the Governor of Jamaica, Christopher Monck II. While in Jamaica, Sloane as typical for learned men of the day appears to have become obsessed with gathering and collecting botanical specimens along with fauna and other artifacts. These collections filled his house in London upon his return. His methodical hoarding transformed his home into what became Sloane’s Museum and this in turn became the first seed collection that eventually grew into both the British Museum and The Natural History Museum.
But back to Sloane’s chocolate recipe: Sloane bestowed the ‘secret’ remedy on Nicolas Sanders and William White who manufactured it as a medicinal drink that was of great “Use in all Consumptive Cases.” Sloan himself promoted the chocolate drink for treating cancer, kidney stones malaria, and emaciation.
Anyway it was this Sloane’s Milk Chocolate recipe that the Cadbury Brothers ended up with and promoted in the 1850s as “health food” and led to those heart shaped boxes.
Thus back in the mid 1800s, Sloane’s Milk Chocolate was the nutritional drink of the day, the equivalent of our modern whey protein, green powder fruit smoothie drinks. Given the modern research on chocolate’s health benefits, Sloane’s might have been better for you. It did no doubt taste better.
There is something else about heart shaped boxes. There are two things oddly peculiar about this choice in shape. First is that the Ancient Aztecs who were very fond of chocolate and attributed various spiritual attributes to it, portrayed the chocolate pods in all artistic representations as being heart shaped. This might not have had that much to do with romantic feelings. They typically force fed chocolate to those about to be sacrificed on their altars, their hearts removed while still alive. Perhaps the chocolate kept their hearts beating longer?
We certainly see modern scientific research on chocolate focusing on its impact on cardiovascular function. I’ve written in the past about the Kuna Indians of Panama and the effect of eating so much chocolate on keeping blood pressure normal.
Over the years I’ve written quite a bit about chocolate now that I pause and think about it. Let me see if I can dig up links to some of those articles:
Chocolate lowers body mass index (BMI), that is makes fat people skinier: http://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/article_content.asp?edition=1§ion=3&article=369
Chocolate reduces exercise induced oxidative stress:http://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/article_content.asp?article=258
Chocolate reduces incidence of heart failure. (well unless you are Aztec and have wn the wrong lottery):http://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/article_content.asp?article=24
Dark chocolate to keep the doctor away:http://www.wellnesstimes.com/articles/can-chocolate-bar-day-keep-doctor-away
Chocolate reduces fasting blood sugar in diabetics:http://naturalmedicinejournal.net/ac_may10_schor2.shtml
Chocolate and nuts to treat hypertension:http://denvernaturopathic.com/chocolateandnuts.htm
You get the idea…. It seems without meaning to I’ve been thinking about chocolate.
And that seems to be a problem. At King Soopers today, while supposedly picking out a Valentine Card, I started thinking about chocolate, and apparently wandered over to the Lindt Chocolate display and selected their Supreme Dark 90% Cocoa bar to bring home, which I intend to use in a chocolate souffle. Still thinking about Aztecs and their practice of cardio-vivisection I came home without the Valentine’s Day card I had intended to purchase.
Sorry excuse, I know. Hopefully the soufflé won’t fall. I plan on following Martha’s recipe.http://www.marthastewart.com/339770/chocolate-souffle
Don’t be afraid to try making one. Even if it totally flops, it will still taste good. Especially if you pull some of the raspberries out of the freezer that you froze last summer to serve with it.
Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at the Denver Naturopathic Clinic.
Drs Schor and Bloom will be out of the office Thursday, Friday and Monday. Erin will be in Thursday and Friday at slightly shorter hours than usual. Both doctors will be attending the annual conference of the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians. Dr Schor is currently president of the association and should be writing his opening remarks rather than dreaming of chocolate.