As Valentine’s Day is a day of love and candy, I decided to do a little research as to why. We all know that the big Hallmark holidays like Halloween and Valentine’s Day are all about candy, but have you ever thought about why you are stuffing chocolates into your mouth? Ancient Romans were the first ones to start the Valentine’s Day tradition. There were two different Saint Valentines that the holiday was named after. Every year around mid February, the Romans held an enormous festival called Lupercalia. This contained a feast in which the single young adults ate treats, drank alcohol, got to know each other, and would get married if everything went how the adults hoped it would. But his year to prepare for Valentine’s Day I gave out some surveys to find out what kinds of candies are everyone’s favorites for the lovely holiday.
My surveys asked people to circle which candies they would most like to eat on Valentine’s Day. The list included: Conversation Hearts, Chocolate Sampler Boxes, Lollipops, Red and White M&Ms, Jelly Hearts, and Chocolate Roses. There was also an ‘other’ section that got answers like Reese’s Cups and Chocolate Pretzels. I was sure that the boxes of chocolate and Conversation Hearts were going to be the most liked candies, but the results that I received proved me wrong. The top three most popular were the Chocolate Sampler Boxes, Lollipops, and the M&Ms. So let’s talk about those.
A classic example of a chocolate sampler box is the Whitman’s Sampler. Around 1915 it was the best selling box of chocolates in America. Whitman knew a lot about marketing which allowed his company to greatly prosper straight through the Great Depression and World War II. His most memorable (and highly sexist) ad campaign “ A Woman Never Forgets the Man Who Remembers” was what made the company’s profits skyrocket and what is keeping the candies here today. With a wide variety of chocolates in every box such as caramel and strawberry creme, a consumer will always find something to love about these delightful boxes. Even though we don’t carry Whitman chocolates, the gourmet chocolates we feature are quite decadent and delicious!
The history of lollipops is a little fuzzy, but there are lots of ideas of where they came from. If you’re curious, Jon Prince wrote about their history here. I have always really enjoyed lollipops, in fact my next blog (which will be licktastic) is all about the little candies on a stick. I remember getting them at banks as a kid and watching their transformations there from bland flavors to Dum Dums. I also remember stealing them from my older siblings and eating them because I just couldn’t get enough of their flavorful sugar. On Valentine’s Day, lollipops come in lots of forms. There are basic pink and red ones of course, but the best are the clear heart shaped ones (that can easily be mistaken for soap on a stick). They can be given out to children’s classrooms or given to your loved ones as a small way to show them your affection.
M&Ms have been around since 1941 and were created by the Mars candy company. For a long time, consumers had been searching for a chocolate that wouldn’t melt before they got around to eating it and M&Ms were the answer to this problem. In 1954, their famous slogan, “melts in your mouth, not in your hands” was introduced causing their already great chocolate to be even greater. The company slowly put out different colors and flavors of M&Ms, eventually making them America’s favorite candies.
I hope that you’ve learned something about candy this Valentine’s Day. Whether it was the fact that the Whitman’s chocolate company was just a bit sexist or that lollipops are much more popular than expected, there is always something to learn. I would like to keep learning about these candies, so take the poll below and let us know what your favorite Valentine’s Day candy is by submitting your choice in the comments section. Happy holiday!
- Conversation Hearts
- Chocolate Sampler Boxes
- Red and White M&Ms
- Jelly Hearts
- Chocolate Roses