February 14, 2013


Maggie Rulli visited a chocolate factory to find out why it's such a big part of Valentine's day.

Maggie: World-renowned Pastry Chef and Chocolatier Jacque Torres, aka Mr. Chocolate, certainly loves the stuff.

Jacque: It’s so buttery, caramelized, milky chocolate. Holy cow! It’s good!

Maggie: And love is the perfect word.

Why do people give chocolates on Valentines Day?

Jacque: Chocolate makes you happy – chemically – and also because it’s a gift. Chemically because chocolate has the same chemical that your brain will produce when you’re in love.

Maggie: That chemical is phenethylamine, or PEA. It stimulates the nervous system and increases your heart rate. And chocolate can also increase serotonin in your body, a chemical that makes people feel happy.

Jacque: You bite on that piece of chocolate and suddenly you feel so happy. I mean, this is great! And it’s legal.

Maggie: So it is not surprising that for this Valentine’s Day, the Jacques Torres Chocolate Factory has been running full throttle to prepare for its biggest day of the year.

Jacque: It’s kind of a big fiesta for us.

Maggie: Americans spend more than a billion dollars on chocolates for Valentines Day, including 35 million of those little heart-shaped boxes. But in recent weeks, there have been headlines about shortages of cacao, the fruit that produces the cocoa bean. Seventy percent of the world’s cacao is grown in West Africa, but struggling farmers have been switching to more reliable, and more profitable, crops like rubber. So cacao supplies are falling far behind demand.

Now, I have heard experts say there might be a chocolate shortage. Do you think it is true?

Jacque: Chocolate shortage? Oh my god! Chocolate shortage! No!

Maggie: We better stockpile now!

Experts say climate change is also threatening the environment where cocoa beans are harvested. But Jacque says, with increases in pay for cacao farmers and research in developing better farming techniques, he is hopeful chocolate will be around for a while.

Jacque: I certainly see some rising prices in cocoa. The commodity will certainly go higher in price, but a shortage? I don’t really see it yet.

Maggie: Not wanting to take any chances, I made sure to get my chocolate fix.

Jacque: White chocolate, green chocolate, red chocolate, yellow chocolate.

Maggie: I didn’t even know there were so many kinds of chocolate! I heart you.

So, I fill up on chocolate.

This is the most magical machine I have ever seen!

Oh shoot!

And try it for myself.

Jacque: You’re leaking all over! You are leaking all over!

Maggie: I wanted to impress you so badly.

Turns out, being a chocolatier on Valentine’s Day is hard work.

Jacque: So let me take that.

Maggie: I decided to leave the chocolate making to the pros and join the millions of Americans who will buy their chocolates today.

Hey, could I have the largest piece of chocolate that you sell?

Two-point-two pounds! I think this will do. I mean, I had to get a little Valentine’s Day treat for the newsroom!

Maggie Rulli, Channel One News.


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