While the exact origins of Valentine's Day are often disputed, the link between chocolate and the modern incarnation of this particular holiday are undeniable. Recent data released in a report by the business information group Datamonitor revealed that the global consumption of chocolate totaled approximately $42.2 billion worth of chocolate-based consumable goods. It will not come as a surprise to anyone who has visited the British Isles to learn that out of the $42.2 billion, Britons spent $19.2 billion, and made almost one in three chocolate purchases, trumping all of the world's nations. The report from Datamonitor also noted that tastes in chocolate vary widely across Europe, noting that, "The French prefer simplicity and purity of taste, without additional flavors and with little sugar, while Italian tastes are geared toward the more indulgent and sophisticated end of the market." Additionally, the report also indicates that the United States continues to dominate the global chocolate confectionary market, with Americans spending $2.4 billion on boxed chocolates alone in 2001.
The first link is to the recent report on global chocolate sales and consumption released by the Datamonitor group. The second link leads to a well-thought site from Exploratorium Magazine, which features interactive essays on chocolate production, the potential health benefits of chocolate, and a visit to a "chocolate party" in the heart of the Amazon. The third link will take visitors to a site that deals with the history of chocolate, beginning with the first use of chocolate (as a drink) in 750 AD. The fourth link takes visitors to a site featuring inventive and fun ways to use chocolate in recipes, such as those for chocolate banana bread and chocolate peanut butter pie. The fifth link leads to a site from ABC News.com that explores various contested origins of Valentine's Day over the past fifteen hundred years. The final link takes visitors to a piece written by Polly Curtis of The Guardian, writing on the various scientific studies that investigate various romantic activities, such as which direction do people tend to kiss or how to find the perfect partner.