Valentine's Day has ancient roots like a Sequoia, dating back to the early Christian church with a connection to a pagan festival. In fact, OG V-Day was called Lupercalia and involved animal sacrifice and whipping women to ring in a year of fertility. Thanks for that mental image, The History Channel. Am I right, ladies?!?
The Valentine's Day we know supposedly came about after Emperor Claudius II thought single dudes made better soldiers, thus outlawing marriage. A defiant priest named Valentine continued to marry lusty, lovestruck teens in spite of the law, and was executed for it. However, even that is admittedly more legend that undeniable fact at this point. Am I right, ladies?!?
It's trite to point out that Valentine's Day is a day to “make single people feel bad about being single” or it's a holiday designed solely to “sell greeting cards.” Maybe it is. Perhaps it's just a day you're supposed to show a little love to someone in your life with a tiny token of appreciation, like a car or a flower. Or chocolate.
Because Valentine's Day is a scam to sell chocolate.
Forget the cards. Screw the flowers. Why on earth is there so much damn chocolate?
There is a conspiracy. Here, read my red tape and newspaper clippings. Put on this tinfoil hat and let me explain. (Why the hat? Oh, just because it's fun.)
Exhibit A: “The Holidays”. During “the holidays”, which start sometime after we honor the veterans and go slightly past the New Year's Day hangover, we all consume an undignified amount of food, specifically sweets. But there are all kinds of sweets – cookies, pies, cheesecakes, donuts, jams, tarts, that cranberry cream cheese bar thingy from Starbucks I scarf down like a starving orphan, and so on. Yes, there is often chocolate, but it's not the only holiday dessert option available.
What's up with just the chocolate? Huh?
Where's the Valentine's Day Pumpkin Pie? Halloween has all kinds of candy. St. Patrick's Day has… I don't know, bangers and mash? That's not a sweet. Whatevs. You get it. We are being deliberately limited.
Exhibit B: “The Heart-Shaped Box”. That red box originated during the Victorian era when chocolate manufacturer Cadbury marketed them for – wait for it – Valen-Fucking-tine's Day – as a way to sell beautifully decorated chocolates and delicately designed boxes. The idea was once you ate the chocolates, you could the box for a lover's keepsake, like their hair or something, while they sunk in the Titanic like an idiot. Those suckers sold like hotcakes (which had just been invented by a befuddled yokel who mixed flour and water on accident).
Okay, so I only have two exhibits. What do I look like, a Law and Order episode? The point is, Valentine's Day is all about the chocolate, thanks to greedy chocolate factories and those fat cats in Washington raking in their chocolate bribes, smearing their mouths with little Hershey's kisses. Bakeries never stood a chance. Little Debbie is bawling her eyes out, unable to compete with the avarice and cunning of Big Chocolate.
Also, I really don't like chocolate that much. Is that why I'm annoyed by Valentine's Day?
Before you come at me with pitchforks, hear me out. Chocolate, despite its antioxidants (with the dark stuff) and addictive qualities (with the milk stuff), is just fine. Truly pure, delicious chocolate – the kind whats-her-face makes in the French movie – is decadent and life-affirming, but it's also pricey and scarce. Here in America, we've got that chalky shit that crumbles in your mouth like a mound of sugary dust. If I lived in Paris, where I could bite into a truffle every day (but just one, because the French are like that), maybe I'd feel differently. On second thought, if I lived in Paris, I'd wear a neck scarf without irony and generally turn into a Wes Anderson character, which means I'd be an insufferable weirdo who buys one truffle every day.
Look. I'm just not that into chocolate. I prefer my sweets to be creamier, richer, soothing. Chocolate has too many hangups and expectations. That's why I love ice cream. There is ice cream for every season, every mood and opinion and upswing or downbeat. Whatever your preference, there is a version of it you can sample with its cousins gelato and sorbet and frozen yogurt. Salted caramel? Lavender? Some other flavor concocted by a guy with a beard that doesn't suit him? Why, it's yours, my dear, in every town across this great land, for the same cost as that stupid truffle.
The box-turned-trinket-holder idea might have worked when The Great War was in full swing, but we live in the digital age. What waste! Why are we holding on to this dumb tradition of giving chocolate boxes? What about a pint of ice cream instead?
I propose a change in tradition. This year, we leave behind the heart-shaped boxes in the drugstores and embrace the frozen foods aisle of the grocery store. We show our loved ones we care with a scoop or two at our favorite old tyme ice cream parlours, the ones that have a “u” in the name because they are pretentious and might be British. If you're lactose intolerant, have a fruit bar, I don't care, just don't keep buying chocolate.
What's that, you say? You love chocolate? You're one of those people who sees something labeled “chocoholic” and exclaim “OMG THAT'S ME”? Well, I can't do anything about that, you helplessly brainwashed trash monster. But for the rest of you, we can break free from the cacao shackles that bind us, and run towards the milky light. We can show the world we want – nay, demand – something more on this holiday than another box of chocolates. We want sweets of all kinds, dammit!
So this Valentine's Day, as you scramble to find a decent bouquet or hand out Game of Thrones cards to your co-workers (something probably like, “you had me at dragons”), remember this: chocolate is for suckers. You're better than that. Try literally any other dessert in the world than a box of chocolates. After all, won't absence make the heart grow fonder?