This Was The First Heart-Shaped Chocolate Box Ever

It's hard to imagine celebrating Valentine's Day without heart-shaped chocolates encased within a heart-shaped box — but this wasn't always the case. In fact, Valentine's Day didn't have anything to do with chocolate for a long while. Theories suggest that the holiday itself was a concept invented to draw attention away from an ancient Pagan festival celebrated around the same time of the year, by instead giving people a more Christian-themed honorary day for St. Valentine (via Good Housekeeping).

In its earliest days, Valentine's Day proved to be a successful distraction where young lovers swapped poems and roses, and around the 1600s, chocolate was also starting to become popular across Europe and upped the ante (via Smithsonian Magazine). Chocolate houses were popping up all across London, giving their coffee counterparts some healthy competition. Somewhere along the way, Valentine's Day and chocolate merged together, all thanks to perhaps the most popular man in chocolate's illustrious history: Richard Cadbury. The confectioner giant not only marked the beginning of what would be a lifelong association of chocolate with the love-filled day, but also gave the world its first heart-shaped chocolate box in 1861 (via NJM).

Cadbury came up with the idea to market new eating chocolates

There are several factors that played a role in the making of the world's first heart-shaped chocolate box. According to medieval literature professor Eric Jager, the symbol of a heart was nothing but a mere shape until the 13th and 14th centuries (via Time). It was only during the medieval period when the concept of romantic love began to take shape and, with it, its meaning symbolized by a heart.

Long after hearts were being correlated to love, Valentine's Day started to become increasingly commercialized as well, and chocolate was gaining some loyal fandom. Richard Cadbury swopped in with a genius invention tying it all together. Up until the mid-19th century, Cadbury was only making drinking chocolate, which produced an excess of cocoa butter (via Paperbox). To make use of the extra supply, Cadbury came out with "eating chocolates." As a fantastic marketing trick to popularize Cadbury's new delicacy, the scion opted to sell them in heart-shaped boxes just around the time of Valentine's Day, starting in 1861 (via NJM). The box was also marketed as a keepsake for people to store tokens of love received from their partners, long after Valentine's Day was over.

Since then, Cadbury has successfully made Valentine's Day synonymous with not just chocolates, but also heart-shaped boxes for everyone across the world. Today, NJM says that more than 36 million heart-shaped boxes are sold across the globe on this day alone, all thanks to that original genius idea.