The Art and Science of Love, Chocolate and Valentine's Day

There are reasons, some scientific, some less so, why chocolate is so popular on Valentine's Day

Nothing says 'I Love You' on Valentine's Day like one of these.
Nothing says 'I Love You' on Valentine's Day like one of these.

It's no accident chocolate is such a hot seller on Valentine's Day.

Though it's not quite the aphrodisiac you might think, chocolate does change you in small ways, reports Cynthia Kuhn, a professor in Duke's medical school.

"It would take about 50 chocolate bars to cause a behavioral arousal, and your romantic partner might regret the experiment," Kuhn says. "But the molecules that give chocolate its scent and taste can stimulate brain activity. And sugar, which is found in abundance in most candy these days, does activate a human's natural reward system. So, scientifically, chocolate can make you feel good."

So there's the science. Not yet convinced? Laura Florand, a romance novelist who teaches French at Duke, says chocolate is the perfect romantic gift for other reasons as well.

"When you give someone you love a beautiful, quality box of chocolate, you are saying, 'I want you to be delighted. You deserve to sink into this wonderful, sensual pleasure. Embrace it. It makes me happy to give this pleasure to you,' " says Florand, the award-winning author of the Amour et Chocolate books, a series of novels set in Paris that explore the connections between love and chocolate. "Or in other words, I love you. Just the way you are and to the fullest and happiest you can be.' Isn't that what Valentine's Day is all about?"

Now, about those red roses...