Forgot to get your Valentine a gift? Don’t panic! That last-minute dash to the drug store or supermarket for a heart-shaped box of chocolates might actually land you with a great gift and keep you out of the dog house. We tasted nine brands of widely available, romantically wrapped chocolates and gave a rose to our our favorites.
WINNER: Wild Ophelia ($12.99 for 3.84oz)
Although no one was quite sure why the chocolates are shaped like little hedgehogs, the rich high quality chocolate, and flavorful gooey insides won over the judges. “The vivid colors of the box and the ribbon are very cute,” said one judge. “Good balance and not too sweet,” said another. The only possible down side is that each box contains only one flavor, but the chocolates are so good we doubt your Valentine will miss the variety.
SECOND PLACE: Dove ($10.99 for 6.5oz)
The creamy texture of these chocolates was a big hit with the tasters. “Very chocolaty, but not too sweet, nice mouth feel” said one tester. The tasters were also a fan of the unique packaging. “I like the cute reusable tin” noted one judge. And, even though there were only three types of chocolates, the tin did come with a small tag that identified each of the flavors.
THIRD PLACE: Lindt ($19.99 for 9.8oz)
A classy box and a nice variety of light truffles and caramels garnered favor with the judges. “This one looks more upscale and fancy,” said one taster. “The chew of the caramel is perfect, and it doesnt stick in your teeth, good buttery flavor too,” said another. The only criticism was the these treats were slightly too far to the sweet side of the spectrum.
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Other Contenders (In order from highest to lowest score)
Hershey’s ($8.99 for 8.9oz)
Cheesy gold hearts on the outside of the lid put off some of the judges. But, the inside of the lid and its guide to the morsels within, was a big hit. The chocolates themselves were criticized for being a bit too sweet, but praised for being very pretty and having a wide variety. “I feel this is a generous box, lots to pick from, all good flavors, no icky ones,” said one taster.
Whitman’s ($9.99 for 13.2oz)
Nostalgia and familiar flavors earned most of the points for this sampler. However, the confusing inclusion of chocolate covered peanuts (that everyone mistook for raisins) and the beat-up looking chocolates that have lost their luster were less than impressive. “The chocolate has a chalky texture and the fillings are way too sweet and mushy,” commented one judge.
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Russell Stover ($9.99 for 14oz)
"Stale" was the predominant descriptor for these off-flavored candies. "The chocolate flavor is muted and has an unpleasant aftertaste," said one tester. "Boring, kind of nondescript," said another. The one positive was the pleasantly soft and smooth texture, and it is the least expensive per ounce of chocolate.
Ghirardelli ($9.99 for 5.49oz)
We’re not sure if it was the unnecessarily individually wrapped chocolates, the unappealing texture, lack of variety, or too-sweet taste that put us off, but the tasters did not enjoy this selection (or lack thereof). “Not a great experience,” said one judge, “unattractive look and dull flavor,’ said another. The general consensus was that we would not enjoy receiving this as a Valentine’s Day gift.
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Mrs. Field’s ($12.99 for 16oz)
Way too sweet and loaded with fruity cream-filled confections, these candies made us think Mrs. Field’s should just stick to cookies. “Treacly sweet with a slightly gummy texture,” stated one judge, “fake flavors and a bad aftertaste,” said another. However, this was the only box that provided a full pound of chocolate.
Elmer ($9.99 for 12oz)
A tacky, dated box and messy looking unpalatable chocolates with an artificial taste landed this brand at the bottom of the bunch. “1982 wants its chocolates back,” said one judge, “I didn’t think I could hate chocolate so much,” noted another.
See more from Epicurious:
Acceptable Last-Minute V-Day Gifts
The WORST Foods to Eat on Valentine’s Day
Aphrodisiacs to Sweeten Your Valentine’s Day