Photo: Bob.Fornal, Flickr
What did it mean to be going steady in 1948? On Valentine's Day, it might have meant snuggling up to your sweetheart in the front seat of a two-tone Pontiac, listening to Dinah Shore on the radio and opening an embroidered cardboard box from Schraft's to reveal a massive pound cake painted with pink-and-white frosting.
Wrapping up one's affections in a heart-shaped box tied with a big red bow has been common Valentine's Day practice since the late 19th century, but chocolate's a relatively recent addition to the love-struck holiday scene. Before the advent of affordable, mass-produced chocolate treats, most celebrants made do with an array of other sugary confections, including marshmallows, candied cashews, jellied fruit, honey glycerin drops, butterscotch chips, coconut strips, caramels, toffee and pound cakes.
"Boxes of sweetness will sell whether they are advertised or not," a New York Times marketing columnist decreed in 1965, summarizing the inseparability of sweet treats and Valentine's Day.