Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

aphrodisiacs are substances, often edible, that are used to enhance the desire for and enjoyment of sex. In earlier times they were also used to increase fertility and longevity by attempting to strengthen and increase life-containing bodily fluids and overall life force. The word “aphrodisiac” is derived from the Greek aphrodisiakon, “pertaining to Aphrodite,” the ancient Greek goddess of love and sexuality.

We associate love and sex with sweetness; we have sweethearts, sweeties, honeys, and sugar pies. See slang. We go on honeymoons, during which love and lovemaking are supposed to be the most idealized. See honeymoon. We give boxes of candy to our sweethearts, especially on Valentine’s Day. See chocolates, boxed and valentine’s day. Many sweet foods have long been considered to have aphrodisiac properties.