You forgot about Valentine’s Day? Strike one.
Then you tried to salvage it by buying your sweetie a heart-shaped box of chocolates from a store that also sells hairspray and antifreeze: Strike two.
Before you strike out, let us step in and give a hand when it comes to last-minute chocolate buying at, say Target, CVS, or really anywhere besides a chocolate shop. Not all chocolate is created equal, and when you’re spending less than $15 for a half-pound or more, chances are it’s a game of roulette as to whether its even palatable.
We’ve done the legwork by tasting seven different brands of Valentine chocolates ranging from $6.99 to $14.99 available at most large retailers.
They’re the names you know: Ghiradelli, Whitman’s, Lindt, Godiva, Hershey’s. Nothing fancy or artisan, just mass-produced chocolates that many Valentines are destined to receive this year. Among them are a few surprising standouts, completely uninspired standbys and horrifying stinkers we wouldn’t even foist on our boss.
So in this admittedly unscientific tasting of Valentine chocolate samplers, we’ve done the difficult and calorically dangerous work for you (mostly in bed, watching romantic movies). Benchmarks included whether or not there was a map of the chocolates (so to avoid the dreaded nougat), sweetness, calorie-to-worth-it ratio, consistency, packaging, appearance and whether we’d feel special getting one of these boxes.
Here are the results…
Lindt Classic Assorted Chocolates, $9.99, 10 pieces
Our inner 12-year-old loved the pretty pink box, but was disappointed at the paltry packaging to chocolate ratio. If you’re a fan of Lindt’s truffles, you’ll be familiar with the sweet, creamy chocolate flavor.
Calories for the Whole Box: 766
Fave Flavors: White chocolate, hazelnut, dark raspberry cream truffles
Love-O-Meter: He so gets me. Is there a ring inside somewhere? Cause the answer is yes.
Ghiradelli Sweet Hearts Premium Chocolate Assortment, $9.99, 12 pieces
Classy packaging and artisan-looking truffles neatly packed inside. They look and taste more expensive than they are, and the chocolate is not overly sweet or grainy, like other inexpensive chocolate brands.
Calories for the Whole Box: 685
Fave Flavors: Chocolate hazelnut cream with toffee bits
Love-O-Meter: I’m worth it.
Russel Stover Private Reserve, $12.99, 16 pieces
This saucy heart with satin and black lace was surprisingly tasty, though heavy on the fruit creams. With a whopping 16 pieces, however, it was an impressive spread of chocolate with white, milk and dark chocolate.
Calories for the Whole Box: 1,103
Fave Flavors: Raspberry caramel, honey caramel, lemon souffle
Love-O-Meter: Let’s eat these together. In bed.
Ferrero Collection, $6.99, 10 pieces
If you’re a fan of these chocolate hazelnut truffles with crunchy wafers, you’ll be stoked on this petite box. We tend to be big on white chocolate and coconut, so the Raffaello bon bons are a big fave. Interestingly, each of the flavors is made in a different country: Germany, Poland or Canada.
Calories for the Box: 600
Fave Flavors: Rondnoir, Raffaello
Love-O-Meter: Kiss me, Romeo!
Godiva Assorted Chocolates, $12.99, 15 pieces
This was the biggest bummer of the lot, since I expected some pretty decent chocolate from Godiva. First off, it was impossible to tell which chocolate was what, though the flavors include milk, dark and white chocolate ganache, strawberry cheesecake and creme brulee. I’m not a gambler when it comes to mystery chocolates, but the two I did taste were overly sweet while still somehow tasteless.
Calories for the Whole Box: 950
Fave Flavors: None
Love-O-Meter: Let’s melt these down and paint each other with chocolate.
Hershey’s Pot of Gold Premium Collection, $6.99, 13 pieces
Pretty box designed by Academy of Art University students. But who puts 13 pieces of candy in a box? Unlucky, for sure, because I was loathe to taste even one of these mystery “assorted” chocolates. The one I did was grainy, unpleasant, and fake tasting. It went back half-eaten.
Calories for the Whole Box: 650
Fave Flavors: None
Love-O-Meter: Are you trying to break up with me?
Whitman’s Sampler, $12.99, 26 pieces
Oh, Whitman’s. From previous experience, my expectations were well managed, but even then I was disappointed. I mean, “I need to spit this out” disappointed. Only vaguely chocolate tasting, grainy, ridiculously sweet. Plus, the box was a disaster when I opened it, with several chocolates out of place. I don’t feel special.
Calories for the Whole Box: 1,733
Fave Flavors: None
Love-O-Meter: I hate you, too.