aph-ro-di-si-ac : noun; 1. An agent (as a food or drug) that arouses or is held to arouse sexual desire; 2. Something that excites. (Merriam Webster Dictionary, 2010)
An aphrodisiac is a substance that increases sexual desire. The name comes from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of sexuality and love. Throughout history, many foods, drinks, and behaviors have had a reputation for making sex more attainable and/or pleasurable. Some people believe that aphrodisiac foods, such as bananas, oranges or oysters, gain their powers and reputation through their resemblance to sexual body parts. The same factor explains the trade in the phallic-looking horn of the rhinoceros. The magic of alcohol, especially champagnes and wines can best be attributed to their ability to lower one’s inhibitions. Other animal-based aphrodisiacs gain their reputation from the apparent virility or aggressiveness of the animal source, such as tiger penis. And then there are other foods, such as chocolate, that just make us feel good. In some cases it can be attributed to certain chemicals they release in our bodies, as chocolate has been proven to do. In others, it is that they excite many of our senses through a combination of taste, texture and appearance, and marketed to the masses on romantic holidays such as Valentine’s Day.