Here at Stuckey’s, we’re busy putting together all of your Valentine’s Day gift boxes so that you’ll have them in time to give them to your sweetheart on February 14th. In the meantime, we started wondering exactly how candy became a part of the Valentine’s Day romance. So, as we so often do when we wonder things like this, we did a little research and we found that the origins of giving candy might not exactly be as romantic as you think.

Putting the Roman in Romantic

It seems that the idea of eating sweets with your true love began back in Ancient Rome when, on February 15th of every year, the Romans held their annual Feast of Lupercalia in honor of their fertility goddess.

Image: Stuckey’s Corp.

Back in those days, Rome was a sex-segregated city — meaning that girls and boys were separated from one another. Boys went to school while the girls stayed home and did the cooking and housework. Even their markets were separated with males shopping for books, weapons, and livestock, while food, makeup, and furniture were on the women’s shopping list. And though they had Cupid back then, OkCupid wouldn’t be available in Rome for another 2,000 years. As a result, it was often difficult for boys and girls to meet and fall in love, let alone get married.

So, how did they solve this problem of the lonely and lovelorn? Well, every year on the eve of Feast of Lupercalia, they held a raffle of sorts. All the virgin girls in town would put their name in a drawing and unwed young men looking for a bride would then pick a name. During the next day’s feast, the couple would spend their time together, celebrating by drinking wine, dancing, and eating sweets. If they enjoyed each other’s company enough, they might also even end up getting married that same day!

(Actually, the girls had a little extra motivation to get married on that day. If you were a single girl on the day after the Feast of Lupercalia, you’d be spanked with strips of goatskin called februas. And yes, that’s where we get the name February from. The more you know, huh?)

Shakespeare’s Sweets

Though many famous authors would write poetry and love letters (or “Valentines,” as they would come to be known), candy wouldn’t play a part in the celebration of Valentine’s Day for another 1200 to 1300 years.

It was then, in 1609, that Shakespeare wrote in Act V, Scene 1 of Hamlet the simple line “sweets to the sweet.”  Since then sweethearts have demanded their sweets every Valentine’s Day with few realizing that the “sweets” was actually the sweet smell of the flower petals that Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude, was scattering across Ophelia’s grave. (We warned you that this might not be as romantic as you thought.)

From Shakespeare to the Science of Chocolate

Image: Stuckey’s Corp.

If our lovers demand candy on Valentine’s Day, it’s not really their fault. Blame it on science. You see, when you fall in love, your brain releases a chemical called phenylethylamine. It just so happens that the same chemical is found in chocolate.

The Aztecs, who pretty much invented chocolate, often used it in drink form as an aphrodisiac — thus it was a popular wedding gift. It is also said that the Aztec Emperor Montezuma II would guzzle down some chocolate drink before his … ahem … let’s just say “romantic liaisons.”

Heart-Shaped Box and Conversation Hearts

Chocolate wouldn’t come into solid form until the 1840s. Richard Cadbury is credited as one of the earliest producers of chocolate candy. He is also the first to make the link between love and chocolate, and along with his brother George, you have him to thank for the heart-shaped box which Cadbury first produced for Valentine’s Day in 1868.

A Stuckey’s heart-shaped “Beautiful ‘n’ Delicious” packaging from an earlier Stuckey’s gift catalog. Image: Stuckey’s Corp.

Around the same time as the Cadbury’s heart-shaped box was introduced, New England Confectionery Company (NECCO) started experimenting with making conversation hearts — those little pastel confectionary hearts you used to get on Valentine’s Day in elementary school that say things like “Be Mine,” “One Kiss,” and “True Love.” By 1902, NECCO perfected the technique and conversation hearts have been a part of the Valentine’s Day candy tradition ever since. Today, they’re made by the Spangler Candy Company of Bryan, OH. 

Are you still looking for sweets for your sweetheart for this Valentine’s Day? Then look no further than Stuckey’s. With three Valentine’s Day Gift Boxes to choose from this year, you’re sure to find the perfect one that will let your Valentine know how much you care:

Image: Stuckey’s Corp.

“Sweet Southern Goodness” Valentine Box

Includes:  Stuckey’s Maple Pecans (1), 2 oz. Pecan Log Roll (2), 1.7 oz. Pecan Divinity (1), 1.5 oz. Pecan Pralines (1), 6 oz. Peanut Brittle (1) and 1 candy Shoppe Coffee Mug.

“Nutty 4 U!” Valentine Box

Includes:  Stuckey’s Maple Pecans (1), Stuckey’s Sea Salt Pecans (1), Stuckey’s Kettle Glazed Pecans and Super Soft Plush Squirrel (1). 

“I’m Stuckey on You!” Valentine Box

Includes:  Stuckey’s Sea Salt Pecans (1), 2 oz. Pecan Log Roll (1), 1.5 oz. Pecan Praline (2), 1.7 oz. Pecan Divinity (2), 7 oz. Birthday Cake Popcorn (1), Candy Shoppe Coffee Mug (1), Candy Shoppe Socks (1 Pair), Super Soft Plush Squirrel (1).  

With Valentine’s Day in just a few days, be sure to place your order at www.stuckeys.com today to ensure that it arrives in time for the big day on February 14th!

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