saying may go, "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach", but what about
women? It is a long standing tradition to present a woman with a box of
chocolate as a romantic gesture. Is it simply because women love chocolate or
does the root of this tradition go deeper? Curiosity led me to do some research
on the subject and here is what I found.
First of all I wanted to know if chocolate was truly an aphrodisiac. An
aphrodisiac is reputed to "put you in the mood for love" and the name comes from
the Greek goddess of love Aphrodite. It is possible that the aphrodisiacal
qualities come from our own mindset and expectations. First of all, we get a
certain amount of pleasure from consuming chocolate. For one, the melting point
of chocolate is slightly below human body temperature so it melts in your mouth.
That in itself is a stimulating experience but what about the substances found
in chocolate? And what are the roots of chocolate as an aphrodisiac in history?
I found a lot of useful information but as you would expect, I found conflicting
arguments on whether or not it is an aphrodisiac, so I decided to come to my own
conclusion and I urge you to do the
One report said that the Aztecs considered all chocolate
an aphrodisiac. Because of this, all foods made with chocolate were strictly
forbidden to women. However, another report stated that the Aztecs and Mayans
were the first to recognize the potency of this food, celebrating the harvest
with festivals of wild orgies. I guess both could be true (and may be) but it seems to me that if
they were having wild orgies, they would want the women to eat it. I
don't know, that's just my opinion, but in either case, the Aztecs apparently
considered it an aphrodisiac.
There are people throughout history who also believed in the stimulating
qualities of chocolate. In 1624 Johan Franciscus Rauch, a professor in Vienna,
condemned chocolate as an inflamer of passions and urged monks not to drink it
as he wanted to ban it in the monasteries. It is said that Madame du Barry,
courtesan and mistress of Louis XV, always served her lovers a cup of chocolat
before they were let in to her bedroom, and that the great lover and alchemist
Casanova, who drank his cioccolata at Cafe Florian in Venice, considered
chocolate more stimulating than champagne and called it the "elixir of love".
Montezuma supposedly drank a cup of chocolate before entering his harem.
Ok, I am convinced that people in history have found chocolate to be an
aphrodisiac, but why? Chocolate contains phenylethylamine, a naturally occurring
amino-acid which some consider to have aphrodisiacal effects and is even said to
be able to "cure" hangovers. Phenylethylamine is a substance which is released
naturally in the human body when you're in love. Other stimulants present in
chocolate are dopamine and serotonin, which alleviate pain and encourage a good
mood. Serotonin produces feelings of pleasure in a similar way to sunlight.
Chocolate also contains theobromine, a chemical stimulant frequently confused
with caffeine, but has very different effects on the human body. It is a mild,
lasting stimulant with a mood improving effect. Its presence is one of the
causes for chocolate's mood-elevating effects. (Note - In chocolate, theobromine
exists in doses that are safe for humans to consume in large quantities, but can
be lethal for animals such as dogs and horses, as they metabolize theobromine
Wow, no wonder I love it so much! What more does a person need than a mood
elevating, stimulating, pleasurable, not to mention, great tasting, experience?
I must mention, however, that some sources state that there is no evidence of
chocolate having a true aphrodisiac effect. My opinion, who cares? With all that
happening, if it doesn't put you in the mood, it won't take much encouragement
to get you there. Excuse me, I seem to be craving some chocolate......