Valentine’s Day spending is up this year, according to data from the National Retail Federation, to $19.6 billion—about as much profit as AT&T made in its fourth quarter; about as much as the Senate is budgeting for national infrastructure improvements. In other words: That’s a lot of flowers and a lot of dinners, reports Adweek, which added that it’s also “a lot of chocolate—much of it in the form of those inescapable heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. You know the ones: the $9.99 pharmacy grab-and-go’s from Russell Stover and Whitman’s, or slightly more expensive varieties from the likes of Ghirardelli and Godiva. Romeos of the Western world have been giving heart-shaped boxes of chocolates since 1861, when British cocoa scion Richard Cadbury first produced them. Alas, he also failed to patent them, which is why so many brands continue to stamp them out at this time of year. According to one recent statistic, 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate find their way into our paramours’ hands each year.
“But while the heart shape itself is unlikely to go out of style for cupid’s holiday, American shoppers appear to be falling out of love, ever so slightly, with the box of chocolates in that shape. Last year, online sweets retailer CandyStore.com conducted a survey that must have broken chocolate brands’ hearts: For the first time, those specialty boxes were no longer the most popular candy for Valentine’s Day.
“The new victor? Conversation hearts—better known by the brand name Sweethearts.”