During Valentine’s week, consumers will buy more than 58 million pounds of chocolate candy, ringing up $345 million in sales. That will account for 5.1 percent of total annual sales of chocolate, according to Nielsen, a company measuring customer behavior. But what do Valentine’s Day and love have to do with chocolate?
According to Jenny Waer, owner of Chocolatree Organic Eatery in Sedona, chocolate has long been associated with passion, romance and divine love. “Raw chocolate contains two main chemical compounds. The first, anandamide, is similar to THC. The name comes from the ancient Sanskrit word ananda, which means bliss. The second, theobromine, is a compound that is related to caffeine.” THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the chemical found in marijuana.
“The two compounds together is the perfect potion for love: heart-opening, relaxing and allowing,” extolled Waer. Another compound found in chocolate, phenethylamine, a psychoactive drug, causes the pulse rate to quicken, similar to the racing-heart feeling of being in love.
“Raw chocolate contains more minerals than any other type of food substance. But the cooking process destroys much of the enzymes and nutrients in the raw cacao, so we don’t heat it over 115 degrees,” said the restaurateur. Raw chocolate is known as a superfood because it is considered beneficial to health and well-being. Chocolatree Organic Eatery shares its location with Sedona Chocolate Superfoods chocolate factory and has over 100 different organic heirloom chocolates on display.
Nonette Saville, owner of Brookside Chocolate Company in historic downtown Flagstaff, said, “Traditional chocolate is the biggie on Valentine’s Day. We have heart-shaped boxes that you can fill with the chocolates that your special valentine likes best. We have 20 different styles of hearts in two, four, and eight ounce [sizes] and one, one-and-a-half, two and five pound boxes.” To keep up with the Valentine’s rush, Saville will extend hours for her current employees and bring back staff from the past.
“Last year we did sixty-some pounds of chocolate-dipped strawberries. We expect to do the same or more this year,” Saville estimated. She dips fresh strawberries in milk and dark chocolate and decorates them with pink chocolate or sprinkles.
Brookside Chocolate Company also offers 24 flavors of truffles. “If you buy 3 or three or six dome truffles, they come in a free gold foiled box,” said Saville.
For the non-traditional Valentine, there are chocolate-covered potato chips or chocolate-dipped Oreos.
“Some years we do 60-70 ice cream cakes on Valentine’s Day, other years, 70-100,” said Lu Ann Hunt of Baskin-Robbins, Flagstaff. She explained that not only does the weather affect Baskin-Robbins’s Valentine sales, but also the day of the week on which the holiday falls affects sales. “Late in the week is not so good. Monday should be a great day because the guys have had all weekend to think about it,” she laughed.
Hunt’s customers look forward to every February when Baskin-Robbins brings back the seasonal favorite, Love Potion #31, made of white chocolate and raspberry ice cream with a raspberry ribbon, chocolate chips and tiny raspberry-filled dark chocolate hearts. “They buy that one by the tub,” she said. “I can’t wait to try the new Valentine’s flavors like Heartbreak Healer, milk chocolate mousse ice cream with dark chocolate chunks and red candy hearts.”
“We keep many cakes on hand. Our customers go online and order any of the cake designs with Valentine messages,” said the chocolate ice cream expert.
Joani Ely, the new manager at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in Sedona, warned, “Be on the safe side and order your chocolate dipped strawberries for Valentine’s Day now.” In May, the chocolatier brought her expertise as a former Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory owner to the uptown Sedona location, where over 50 percent of goods are made on the premises. “My background is in chocolate and confections,” she said.
“We have beautiful assorted boxes for Valentine’s Day. We bag and bow gifty caramel and chocolate-covered apples. They look beautiful and taste even better. Our delicious creamy fudge is made right here in Sedona.”
So whether the chocolate comes in the raw cacao form or in a heart-shaped box, or pressed into an ice cream cake or on the end of a succulent strawberry, it is sure to get your heart racing for the Valentine’s holiday. FBN
1104 S Milton Rd, Flagstaff
Brookside Chocolate Company
Old Town Shops
120 N Leroux, Suite 103, Flagstaff
Chocolatree Organic Eatery
1595 West Hwy 89A, Sedona
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
320 North State Route 89A #O, Sedona