Valentine's Day in the Sweetest Place on Earth
Updated: Feb 10, 2021
Valentine’s Day means chocolate. Lots of chocolate. More than red roses, more than bubbly champagne, more than big heart-emblazoned cards, Valentine’s Day is all about that rich, velvety, sweet but not too sweet taste many civilizations have revered—and craved--for centuries. My own chocolate dependency means I am incapable of missing my daily fix. If my travel takes me someplace with a questionable supply of chocolate, I bring my own. If the destination is a producer of the sacred elixir, I purchase as much as possible.
Lucky for me, a definition of chocolate heaven is less than a day’s drive away from my home. Hershey, Pennsylvania, the self-proclaimed “Sweetest Place on Earth”, is perfect for a romantic and indulgent Valentine’s Day. It also has an interesting history. Early in the twentieth century, Milton Hershey not only pioneered new production techniques for milk chocolate, but also a new approach to worker relations. What is now a fun place to visit began as a commitment to providing quality of life to his employees.
The site Hershey chose for his factory was dairy farmland, selected for access to the special ingredient in his chocolate—whole milk. He transformed the area into a community of homes, public transportation, public schools, and extensive recreation opportunities with a vision considered revolutionary at the time. Hershey Park, with rides and trolley cars and activities for children, is closed during the winter. But the Hotel Hershey, and most importantly the Spa at Hotel Hershey, is open with wonderful romantic packages for a snowy February getaway.
At Hershey the perfect day for confirmed chocoholics could start with a walk around the extensive gardens, followed by a selection of treatments from the Spa with names like Cocoa Massage or Sweet Hands Dark Chocolate Treatment or Dark Chocolate Sugar Scrub. Maybe add in a Cocoa Facial or a Dark Chocolate Immersion. I’d want it all—even if the treatments are not with real chocolate but infused oils and lotions. They are still reminders of my favorite food. Indulgence is allowed.
Then, relaxed and refreshed, it would be time for a romantic chocolate themed dinner. At Hershey’s this is not just nibbling on chocolate covered strawberries, but an entire menu, starting with a Chocolate Mojito and followed by Cocoa Seared Scallops. Of course, chocolate truffles for dessert.
Valentine’s Day—at least in Hershey PA--can be about romance mixed with fun and fantasy. It’s about being a little old-fashioned and lazily indulgent in an era of fast food, quick text messages, and faceless email. I think Milton Hershey got it right. In spite of early blunders and failures, he never gave up, and eventually created both a business empire and a place for everyone to enjoy. So, here’s a kiss to Mr. Hershey—a chocolate one, of course!
And just in case you can’t make it to Hershey, here are a couple of recipes to create your own special Valentine’s Day.
Chocolate Mojito (from Hershey Resorts) 1 lime wedge 3 fresh mint leaves 1 tablespoon Torani White Chocolate Syrup 1 and a half ounces Gosling’s Black Seal Rum Club Soda Muddle (crush using a special muddling tool or the back of a teaspoon) the first three ingredients. Add ice, rum, and top with club soda. Stir and push muddled ingredients to the top. Garnish with a spring of fresh mint.
Cocoa Seared Scallops (from Hershey Lodge) 2 tablespoons Hershey’s Coca Powder 1 teaspoon allspice 1/8 teaspoon chili powder ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon ground pepper 12 scallops Dredge scallops in cocoa rub and sear on medium high heat for two minutes per side.