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Valentine's Day candies
The tradition of proferring offerings of love on St. Valentine's Day is well documented. The role of exchanging confections on this day is not. Some folks believe chocolate is the confection of choice because of its aphrodesiac properties. Others reason the Valentine candy phenomenon a just a clever scheme developed by confectioners to promote products in the seasonal lull between Christmas and Easter. No matter what the reason, the end result is lovely and delicious!

The two candies most associated with Valentines Day in America are Conversation Hearts and chocolate. Fancy heart-shaped packaging, like Valentines cards, evolved from Victorian traditions.

Conversation hearts
Converation Hearts, as we Americans know them today, descended from British Conversation Lozenges and
Motto Rocks. These have been popular confections from the mid-19th century forwards. In older times words were sometimes imprinted by molds or inserted (paper) into the confection.

Why do we give chocolate on Valentine's Day?
Some folks believe chocolate is given because it's an aphrodesiac.
Cadbury's is often cited as one of the first companies to promote this holiday practice. About chocolate

Confectionery historians confirm special packaging has been employed for candy for hundreds of years. The earliest reference we find in American print to Valentine's Day confections packed in fancy heart-shaped boxes is from the 1890s:

"Among the sweetest valentines seen were those designed by the confectioners. Some shown in beautiful glass-covered boxes were heart shape, the foundation being a layer of pale pink cream confectionery, half an inch thick, edged all around with candied rose leaves in clusters to represent tiny roses. Included in this flowery frame was a smaller heart formed of a solid mass of the rose leaves, and surrounding it were the words, in raised letters, covered with gold leaf, "For my valentine." The box, into which the lovely confection exactly fitted, was of pink satin, the rim around the glass top being covered with a narrow row of finely-plaited pink silk net. In this dainty casket the valentine can be preserved for generations, if so desired, or, if consumed, the case will serve as a charming receptable for jewels. Others, similary designed, were of candied violets, in violet satin boxes. An exquisitely delicate one, that shows the confectioner's art in its highest development, resembled a delicate bisque piece in coloring and finish. In the centre of a square of lemon-colored cream, bordered with ale green primroses, were two figures, one of a bewitching little girl in a Greenaway gown and a huge hat loaded with white ostrich tips, and the other a boy in a picturesuqe Continental suit, standing before her, cocked hat in hand, in the act of making an elaborate bow. The faces and dresses are wonderfully well done, and every particle of the whole is composed of the very choicest candy. On the right, in gold letters, are the words, "Will you be my valentine?" Their values range from $5 upward, including box, those with the figures being, of course, higher priced than th others and they make a far more sensible gift than gold-plated bonbons at $40 a pound, which are a caprice just now with the ultra fashionables." ---"In Honor of St. Valentine," New York Times, February 4, 1894 (p. 18)

"Valentine Candy Boxes---All in heart shape, in numerous pretty colored designs. Filled with chocolate drops. Were 40 cents each, now 25 cents."---Display ad, John Wanamaker's, New York Times, February 12, 1901 (p. 4)

The Cadbury connection?

"The tradition of giving chocolates on Valentine's Day can be traced to Richard Cadbury, of the English chocolate-making family, who "invented" the first Valentine's Day candy box during the Victorian era. The Victorians, who fancied decorating cards with plump cupids shooting arrows of love, later transferred the image to the lids of heart-shaped boxes filled with dreamy combinations of silken chocolates."
---"For Lovers, Chocolate," Niki Dwyer, The Buffalo News, February 11, 1998, Lifestyles (p. 2D)

Cadbury itself acknowledges making fancy boxes of chocolates, though it stakes no claims on Valentine's Day:

"Cadbury's 'fancy chocolates' (or assortments) were sold in decorated boxes with small pictures that children could cut out to stick into scrapbooks. Richard Cadbury, who had considerable artistic talents, set out to introduce more ambitious and attractive designs from his own paintings: many of his original boxes still exist. Using his own children as models, or depicting flowers and scenes from holiday journeys, he introduced the first British made fancy chocolate boxes. These proved to be popular, helping both the Cadbury business and the confectionery trade in general. Elaborate chocolate boxes were prized by the late Victorians as special gifts, to be used as trinket or button boxes once the fancy chocolates had been eaten: designs therefore had after-use very much in mind. Designs ranged from superb velvet covered caskets with bevelled mirrors and silk lined jewel boxes, to pretty boxes with pictures of kittens, landscapes or attractive girls on the lid. Their popularity continued until their disappearance during the 1939-45 war: Victorian and Edwardian chocolate boxes are now treasured collectors' items. In the 1870s the quality of the chocolates produced by the company following the introduction of the cocoa press helped Cadbury break the monopoly French producers previously enjoyed in the British market."

Compare with Easter candy

Valentine's Day Menus
Below please find historic USA Valentine's Day menus. They are few & far between. Most of them are constructed by color (pink, red) or shape (heart, cupid). Why? In the USA, Valentine's Day is not a major eating holiday. It centers on giving candy. If you want the recipes
let us know! (which ones).

"St. Valentine's Spreads
Menu No. I: Sweetbreads a la York, Hame Mousse, Honor Sandwiches, Coffee Caramel Parfait, Orange Hearts, Lort Baltimore Cake, Mint Tulip.
Menu No. II: Scalloped Scallops, Chicken Jelly Salad, Cadillac Cheese Sandwiches, Pineapple Sponge, Cinkites, Lady Fingers, Coffee."
Menu No. III: Thorndike Canapes, Manhattan Clam Bouillon Fillets of Halibut a la Hollenden, Luncheon Rolls, Knickerbocker Supreme of Chicken, Martinique Potatoes, Lakewood Salad, Toasted Butter Thins, Chocolate Ice Cream, Marshmallow Sauce, Harvard Wafers, Mint Hearts."
---Catering for Special Occasions with Menus and Recipes," Fannie Merritt Farmer [David McKay:Philadelpia] 1911 (p. 29-49)

"Valentine Luncheon
(Men on red heart)
Oyster Cocktail, Cream Wafers, Olives, Pickles, Baked Spanish Mackerel, Potatoes, Fried Chicken, French Peas, Asparagus, Stuffed Green Peppers, Tomato and Lettuce Salad, Beaten Biscuits, Corn Pone Bread, Ice Cream, Chocolate Cake, Coffee.-A unique suggestion of Mrs. Philander O. Claxton, Tennessee and Washington, C.C.."
---Economy Administration Cook Book, [W.B. Conkey Co.:Hammond IN] 1913 (p. 627)

"Valentine Menu
The following refreshments suggestive of Vainteine sentiment might be served on heart-shaped trays made of cardboard covered with red paper:
Creamed Chicken in Heart Timbales, 'Heart Beet' Salad, Rolls, Coffee, Ice Cream in Heart Molds, Kisses, Heart-shaped Cakes."
---"Valentine Suggestions," Glenda Brannock, Chicago Defender, February 11, 1928 (p. A3)
[NOTE: This article also incudes party notes, heart tree decorations & invitations.]

"Love Apple Soup (Tomato Bisque), Creole Shrimp or Beef Hearts, Stuffed Baked Potato Sprinkled with Paprika, Peas in Heart-Shaped Timbale Cases, Dinner Rolls, Butter, Radishes, Valentine Salad, Apricot Parfait, Cocoanut Kisses, Demi-Tasse."
---"Some Ideas for that Valentine Dinner Party," Betty Browning, Chicago Daily Tribune, February 12, 1932 (p. 17)

"Valentine Luncheon
Beet Soup, Heart-shaped Croutons, Sweetbreads and Pimiento (in heart-shaped Timbales, 662), Green Peas, Tomato Jelly, Heart Salad, Crescent Rolls, Raspberry Sherbet, Cookies, Fruit Juice Punch, 157."
---America's Cook Book, Compiled by The Home Institute of The New York Herald Tribune [Charles Scribner's Sons:New York] 1937 (p. 861)

"Valentine Supper
Creamed Tuna Fish in Pastry Shells, Cellophane Salad, Potatp Chips, Heart-shaped Cookies, Butterscotch Pudding, Whipped Cream, Hot Chocolate, Candy Hearts
Heart-y Foods: Top tuna pies with pastry hearts. Let cookies and candy take on the same shape. Make Cellophane Salad with two or more colors of gelatine; pile vari-colored cubes in lettuce cups. Mayonnaise topping."
---My Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book, 5th edition [Meredith Publishing:Des Moines IA] 1938 (chapter 15, p. 10)

"Snowy white tablecloth makes the most appropriate background for a Valentine buffet supper. Dprinkle the cloth with bright hearts in various sizes. Center the table with an old-fashioned sweetheart bouquet of red carnations in lace paper doiy frills. Cupids and arrrows provide the traditional place cards... The following menu is sprinkled with hearts, and red and white accent is the color scheme. Valentine's Buffet: Hot Spiced Tomato Juice, Crisp Soda Crackers, Calavo Spread, Chicken Pie, Heart-shaped Biscuit Topping Creamed Onions, Hot Pickled Beets, Apple Coleslaw, Cherry Gelatine Hearts, Cherry Juice Sauce, Sweetheart Tats, Hot Cereal Beverage or Tea."
---"Valentine Menus Aid Hostesses," Marian Manners, Los Angeles Times, February 12, 1943 (p. A8)

"Valentine's Supper
Beet Soup, Creamed chicken, String beans, Brown rice, Ice cream (1/2 vanilla & 1/2 raspberry ice), Heart-shaped sponge cake with seafoam icing, topped with a red cupid.
Hot chicken, Potato chips, Creamed peas, Ice cream and cake with chocolate sauce, or Angel Food Delight (spread cake with whipped gelatine, let harden and serve whipped cream), Heart-shaped mints."
---Food and Fun for Daughter and Son, Lila W. Erminger and Marjorie R. Hopkins [Illinois Children's Home and Aid Society:Chicago IL] 1947 (p. 71)

"Valentine Luncheon
Hearts of jellied Tomato Bouillon, Whole-wheat Croutons, Salmon in Rice Hearts with Sugar Beets, Strawberry Moussse in Heart Molds, Caramel Sugar Cookies.
St. Valentine's Day Dinner
Consomme Madrilene with Heart-shaped Noodles, Celery, Carrot Sticks, Pork Tenderloin Piquante, Brussels Sprouts, Heart-shaped Beet Salad, Cranberry Meringue Pie."
---Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook, Ruth Berolsheimer [Culinary Arts Institute:Chicago IL] 1950 (p. 56-57)

"Here's just a plate for your Valentine Day luncheon party. A cranberry-pink salad mold with heart-topped chicken sandwiches to go with it...Fluted Cranberry Salads, Chicken Heart Sandwiches, Assorted Crisp Relishes (Carrot Curls, Celery Pinwheels, Green Pepper Rings), Lemon Meringue Tarts, Coffee."
---"This Valentine Menu Wins Guests' Hearts," Marian Manners, Los Angeles Times, February 11, 1951 (p. C13)

"Valentine's Party
Silhouette Sandwiches, Celery Curls, Cocoa Continental with Pink Whipped Cream, Heart Cake."
---Betty Crocker's New Boys and Girls Cookbook, General Mills Inc. [Golden Press:New York] 1965 (p. 131)

"A Luncheon for St. Valentine's Day
Eggs Forestiere, Belgian Salad, Whole-Wheat Toast, Valentine Cake, Frozen Whole Strawberries with Confectioners' Sugar."
---New York Times Menu Cook Book, Craig Claiborne [Harper & Row:New York] 1966 (p. 48)

"Dinner Number 33: Valentine Dinner, Serves Two
Sherry, Jellied Madrilene with Caviar, Lovable Lobster, Potatoes Chntilly, Tomato Salad, Small Hard Rolls, Champagne, Peaches in Champagne."
---Cosmo Cookery:Gourmet Meals From the First Drink to the Last Kiss [Cosmopolitan Books:New York] 1971 (p. 121)

"Valentine's Day is the perfect excuse to concoct a romantic dinner for two. Here is a menu that is a less filling version of that favorite steak-and-potato team. it can be prepared in just over an hour. The fillets are garnished with a rose-colored herb butter that is faster to make than any sauce. With the dessert, a glass of dry Champagne wth a drizzle of strawberry or raspberry liqueur and a mint sprig will add a sparkling touch...Beef fillets with herb butter, Garlic new potatoes, Corn medley, Bibb lettuce salad with lemon vinaigrette, Strawberries with chantilly zabaglione, Champagne, Coffee."
---"Menu of week: Valentine's Day Dinner for two," JeanMarie Brownson, Chicago Tribune, February 12, 1981 (p. W_A16)

"Heavenly Heart for Two (cream of mushroom soup mix, cooked shrimp, Swiss Cheese, refrigerated crescent rolls molded to look like a heart), Pan-Fried Pork Cops and Vegetables, Grapefruit Meringue Pudding Pie, Heart-shaped quiche, Chef's Salad Mexicali for Two, Pineapple Upside Down Cake."
---"A Valentine Menu--Romantic Recipes Just for a Cozy Twosome," Los Angeles Times, February 12, 1981 (p. L6)

"The heart motif prevails for Valentine's Day. Heart-shaped brownies, cookies, cakes, tarts and so forth dominate the dessert menu. In the main-dish department there are many options, from baking a heart-sgaped pizza to sculpturing a filet mignon into the shape of a heart. Cut ravioli into a heart shape or bake heart-shaped biscuits to go with the chicken. Somewhat less obvious but just as appropriate are dishes involving hearts of artichokes or hearts of palm. Oysters are also high on the list of Vaentine possibiities because of their supposed aphrodesiac properties. Passion fruit sounds like a good idea even though the name comes not from the romantic passion, but from the Christian passion at Eastertime. But it also pays to remember that another name for the tomato is the love apple. Here are a few possibilities for the Valentine menu. Salad of Cherry Tomatoes and Hearts of Palm...Risotto with Artichoke Hearts...Coeur a la Creme with Passion Fruit Sauce."
---"A Valentine's Menu With Some Twists," Florence Fabricant, New York Times, February 10, 1991 (p. LI12)

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4 February 2015