The Food of Love – Celebrating Valentine’s Day

“If music be the food of love, play on”
William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

“There is a very close relationship between love, sex and food,” explains psychologist Maryanne Fisher. “The human need for food and sex are basic, part of the foundation of our nature, which makes it sensible that they are so closely knit together,” she writes in Psychology Today. “Another way to look at it is that when you eat, you’re using many of your senses. Obviously, you are using taste, but also sight, smell and touch. These sensations are the same ones used during sex. And, if you feed your lover, sensually, these sensations might be heightened.”

That helps explain why food played a prominent role in so many people’s celebration of love this past Valentine’s Day. A majority of Americans who celebrated Valentine’s Day either went out to a restaurant or bought groceries for a special meal at home. This was particularly true for millennials.

It’s been said that “a meal without wine is like a day without sunshine” and indeed it seemed Valentine’s Day was bright. Almost all of those who bought groceries for a special dinner at home also purchased drinks and alcohol to accompany their dinner, suggesting grocery store opportunities for tie-ins.

Fast food anyone?

Valentine’s Day dinner conjures up visions of candlelight, white table cloths and lingering over a glass of red wine. But for some it was a much more prosaic occasion with one-in-four celebrating Valentine’s Day at a fast food restaurant.

Sweets for a sweetie

The only gift more commonly purchased for a significant other was also a food, sort of. Almost half (46%) of all those celebrating bought chocolates or sweets for their beloved. Many more (69%) bought chocolates or candy as a gift for children.

Love beyond food

Behind food, flowers were another common choice. Half (50%) of all male celebrants bought flowers for their significant other, as did 9% of women. Bigger splurges like clothing (15%), jewelry (13%) and tickets to an event (10%) were notably less common.

Sources of love

Grocery stores (36%) were tied with department stores and major retailers like Walmart as the most common source of tokens of love. Less common were dollar stores (16%) and drug stores (15%).

The food of love

All holidays revolve around food. It’s intrinsically intertwined with family love and tradition. But Valentine’s Day—on the shoulder season between Christmas/New Years and Easter—is a little different in that it is more intimate. A different dynamic is at play and there is opportunity in that.

As Shakespeare said, “if music be the food of love, play on.”

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