There are only 3 days until Valentine’s Day and surely the chocolate companies in the US are looking forward to a spike in sales. The same is true in Japan where an estimated $500,000,000 is spent on Valentine’s chocolates each year. However, in a departure from the stereotypical American Valentine’s Day pattern, the vast majority of chocolate is given by women to their male partners, colleagues and friends in Japan.

This tradition was promoted by the Japanese chocolate industry. In the 1930s, a Kobe company called Morozoff placed an ad in an English language newspaper suggesting the gift of chocolate for Valentine’s Day and the idea took hold.

Then in the 1950s, the Mary Chocolate Company of Tokyo marketed the idea of women giving chocolates to the men in their lives on Valentine’s Day.

The rest, they say, is history.