Valentine’s Day is here! Sweethearts will spend their evenings celebrating with dinner, gift exchanges and most importantly, chocolate treats.

Chocolate is a staple for many holidays, but it is most popularly paired with Valentine’s Day. Candies of all shapes with different tasty fillings fill pretty heart-shaped boxes from many different chocolate companies.

This romantic holiday is known these for bright red and pink candy boxes, but why is that? What led to this tasty tradition?

According to Smithsonian, this match made in heaven seemed to have begun when Valentine’s Day became a commercial opportunity.

Victorians loved showering their significant others with Cupid-bedecked gifts and cards, but Valentine’s Day was about to get happierSmithsonian magazine

The holiday originated with the ancient Romans, and gradually evolved to be a celebration of St. Valentine. British aristocrats later began the tradition of making and giving cards. Music, poetry and roses were also used in early Valentine’s Day celebrations. By the 1800s Valentine’s Day was commercialized.

Richard Cadbury, son of the founder of the Cadbury chocolate business, paved the way for chocolates’ success on Valentine’s Day with his invention of the heart shaped box. Each box was elaborately designed. They gained popularity not only because of the chocolate inside, but because of the usability and attractiveness of the box, even after the chocolate was eaten. This made them the perfect gift for Valentine’s Day.

In the United States in the early 1900s, Milton Hershey and Russell Stover pushed this new tradition even further with their own creations, including the Hershey Kiss and Secret Lace Heart candy box.

Valentine’s Day chocolate and the foodservice industry

The tradition has since carried on, but has evolved beyond traditional chocolatiers and chocolate companies. The popularity of chocolate on Valentine’s Day has set up foodservice businesses with an incredible opportunity to participate in this amorous holiday.

Many major food chains have Valentine’s Day-themed menu items, many including chocolate; from donuts to coffee drinks.

There are many opportunities for creating Valentine’s Day-themed drinks and desserts.

A traditional chocolate milkshake could be an especially good option for those looking to add to their menu long term. Top off the shake with heart-shaped sprinkles for Valentine’s Day, then switch up your topping for spring and summer.

Mocha flavors are also great to use for both Valentine’s Day and the summer months.

If you want to look into adding something more exclusive and limited next year, look into adding pink hot chocolate to your menu or a pink cocktail featuring a chocolate syrup or sauce.

Have you fallen in love with chocolate? Tell us which chocolate products you use in your shop.