It's hard to say exactly what keeps two people happily married for decades. But for one couple, their own sweet secret might just boil (or melt) down to chocolate.
For as long as Susan Peters Cathoir can remember, her parents, Curtis and Virginia Peters, have loved Hershey's chocolate, especially the bars. As the fourth-born of the Peters' five children (now aged 77 through 65), Cathoir still remembers how the classic candy was always a staple in their home because her parents simply couldn't get enough.
"They love the Hershey's. It melts in their mouth just the way want it," Cathoir told TODAY Food.
Curtis, 100, and Virginia, 103, first met at the University of Northern Iowa (then Iowa State Teachers College) during World War II. In 1940, they married, began having children, and ran a printing shop together. The shop, a truly family-owned business, was even connected to their home in Waterloo, Iowa.
The couple, according to Cathoir, always shared everything — and that included the Hershey's chocolate bars they enjoyed almost every day. Throughout their lives, the couple always kept plenty of Hershey's chocolate in the house. Cathoir recalled there were Kisses in candy bowls and plenty of bars in the kitchen. Her parents would even melt Hershey's bars for everyone to dip their ice cream into.
In the late 1950s, the couple even treated themselves — and their kids — to a dream vacation: they packed up the family and took a bus from Iowa to Hershey, Pennsylvania, to see where and how their favorite candy was made in Hersheypark.
Curtis and Virginia, who moved from Iowa to a nursing home in Geneseo, Illinois, to be closer to Cathoir, are still enjoying their daily ritual of a shared chocolate bar. Knowing how much their parents loved Hershey's, their kids began bringing plenty of chocolate with them on their visits so Curtis and Virginia can enjoy a piece whenever they like.
"I keep a pack in the freezer and go and give them one every day. I always leave chocolate in their drawer so in case I can't make it or I'm late, one of the [nurses] can make sure they still get it," Cathoir told TODAY.
According to their daughter, Curtis will open the bar and break off a piece for his wife, or sometimes a nurse will feed a bite to each of them.
"Hershey's chocolate just keeps him alive, and he keeps her alive," Cathoir added. "He shares it with her all the time — he shares everything with her and she with him. When he drinks something, he shares it."
A joint fondness for Hershey's is one thing that's always kept the Peters together, but it's certainly not the only special bond they share.
"They pray a lot and they love. It's just pretty special," Cathoir said, adding that her parents have always been affectionate towards each other.
On Saturday, Curtis and Virginia celebrated their 79th wedding anniversary. They were surrounded by family and everyone enjoyed a couple Hershey's chocolate bars.
"Mr. and Mrs. Peters are a true testament to living a life full of love and warmth, together, for nearly 80 years. We are honored to learn that they choose to share Hershey’s chocolate to have a heartwarming connection each and every day of their lives," Hershey's brand senior director Ian Norton told TODAY.
A Hershey spokesperson said the company will soon be sending the Peters a "very special anniversary gift," full of their favorite goodies.
Said Cathoir of her parents' sweet sharing ritual, "They just love each other very much. They always share, and they taught us [the children] to do the same."