Despite what movies and TV tell you, it really doesn’t matter how you celebrate Valentine’s Day. Maybe you go out to eat at the most expensive restaurant in your state. Maybe you cook a perfect steak at home. Maybe you’re sitting on your couch with a bottle of wine and your cat while watching horror movies on Netflix. No matter how you choose to honor Feb. 14, one thing is universal: candy. Before you send your kids off to school with a backpack full of paper cards and candy or meet your honey for a date at a perfect special-occasion restaurant, it’s important to know which candies are hits and which are misses. Which Valentine’s Day candies are soulmate-level and which need to be ditched like a loser ex? We took an unofficial office poll of iconic candies to determine our semi-definitive ranking of the worst and best Valentine’s Day treats.
Candy corn is nowhere near the top of the list of the most popular Halloween candies, and it certainly has no business outside of its designated holiday. Even if you’re among the people who love candy corn, it’s probably best to just stick to the traditional stuff in the fall and avoid “cupid corn,” which has red, pink and white layers for the holiday.
Chocolate and roses are the two most stereotypical Valentine’s Day gifts. So why do these flower-shaped chocolates rank so low? Well, because these cheapo chocolate roses are found at basically every grocery store and gas station. They taste more like chalk-olate roses than chocolate roses. We’d rather just chew on some real edible flowers.
There are few candies as plentiful and classic as the candy-coated chocolate original: the M&M. America loves M&M’s (and has since they debuted in 1941), especially their seasonal offerings. But those classic red and pink M&M’s are just milk chocolate-filled, like regular M&Ms. Unless you’re making your loved ones cookies this Valentine’s Day, get something a little more creative than this.
Remember how we told you to be a little creative with your Valentine? That also means you need some forward planning. Remember: Valentine’s Day is always on Feb. 14. There’s something about a pack of Ferrero Rocher on Valentine’s Day or a nondescript chocolate heart in a bright pink cardboard box that says, “Hey, babe. I forgot today was a holiday. I picked up the most expensive candy at 7-Eleven on the way over.” That’d be one of the worst dating etiquette mistakes.
We love caramel, hate strawberry creme and are pretty divided on toffee. And while chocolate samplers are an integral part of Valentine’s Day, well … they’re not actually all that good. Mystery certainly does keep life interesting, but we prefer to know whether we’re about to bite into something delicious (a chocolate-covered cherry) or something bizarre (a walnut creme chocolate that tastes neither like walnuts nor creme). If you need to surprise your love this Valentine’s Day, surprise them with a trip to one of America’s most romantic restaurants.
Hershey’s Kisses have a name that is just too perfect for Valentine’s Day, making this treat perfectly appropriate. This classic milk chocolate treat even has fun and festive holiday wrappers and seasonal flavors to keep things interesting. For Valentine’s Day, Hershey’s rolls out Lava Cake Kisses with dark chocolate on the outside and a gooey dark chocolate center, meant to imitate the kind of thing you’ll find at the best dessert shops in America.
Though every other candy on this list is sold (in one form or another) year-round, there’s one candy that is available only for Valentine’s Day: the conversation heart. These chalky, cheeky, heart-shaped candies ask you to “be true” or just declare you as a “soulmate.” The subtle flavors of these candies have confused us for decades — is that purple one … clove? — but we love them for what they are: a candy from another time that you won't believe still exists.
We love all sorts of flavored Hershey’s Kisses, from cherry cordial to almond to hot cocoa, but our absolute favorite is the classic Hershey’s Hug, a little milk chocolate Kiss wrapped up in white creme. It’s a treat that we can only seem to find this time of year. The Hershey’s Hug is so satisfying, just like an actual hug.
Usually, we like holiday-specific candies to stay in their lane, and jelly beans are certifiably the best candies for Easter. However, we will make one very important exception: heart-shaped jelly beans for Valentine’s Day. The shape is just ever-so-slightly more pointed, turning these beans into bona fide hearts (and thus, making them appropriate for the holiday of love). But what makes these beans truly great for Valentine’s Day is that they only come in red and pink: cherry, strawberry and watermelon, which we all know are the best flavors.
Lindt Lindor truffles are wonderfully decadent. Somewhere between chocolate drops and true truffles, these treats are rich, silky and creamy, with every bite offering a new experience in texture. The best part? These truffles are made in every flavor from caramel to strawberries and cream to extra dark chocolate; why not try one of each?
We love Reese’s in all shapes and sizes, so who are we to say no to the classic heart-shaped Reese’s? Are they nearly identical to their bunny-ear counterparts? Maybe. But are they totally delicious and filled to the very brim with that iconic peanut butter filling? Oh, yes. The best thing about Reese’s is that you can find them at any ol’ place — you don’t have to go to an old-school candy store.
There are a lot of ways that school has changed over the years, but the classroom Valentine’s Day party hasn’t really changed. Remember those days when your colored paper and glitter-decorated box was filled to the brim with cards with cartoons of Snoopy and Care Bears? The absolute best Valentines (other than the ones given to you by your crush) were the ones with candy attached. And that statement holds true today. As adults, candy is still a central part of Feb. 14. Paper Valentines, however, are not, thus making this novelty a true treat.
Even a crummy candy tastes better if it’s half-price. Chalky chocolate that’s only 99 cents for a 5-pound bag? “Strawberry” heart-shaped lollipops that cut the roof of your mouth? We’ll take two of each, please. Just head to the drugstore or best grocery stores in your area and see what they have available. Beggars can’t be choosers, but they can be winners.
While classic chalky conversation hearts are really only OK, Sweetarts found a way to improve on this retro treat by shaping their tart fruit-flavored candies into hearts and printing sayings like “Cutie” and “XOXO” on them. Tangy, sweet and perfectly bite-sized, these conversation hearts are what the originals wish they could be.
We don’t want to tell you how to live your life, but it’s best to put some effort into your Valentine’s Day — and that means seeking out high-quality chocolate and perhaps curating a heart-shaped box of deliciousness for your beau. Heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are a V-Day icon right up there with Cupid and his arrows. And while standard chocolate samplers filled with weird vanilla cremes and questionable caramels are not very special, a box of truffles or dark chocolates curated by you for your significant other is sure to make you a holiday hero. So, seriously, if you really want to swoon this Valentine’s Day, you’ll buy your chocolates at the best chocolate shops in America.
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