Sacrificial Lam

Search for the best Valentine's Day candy: It's on!

Are you ready, Russell Stover? Our cranky staff tested the most popular candies, and lived to tell the tale

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    Russell Stover Private Reserve Secret Lace Heart

    The Russell Stover Private Reserve Secret Lace Heart is the back-alley soft porn of drugstore candies. The plush heart-shaped box is wrapped in “secret lace,” which is the same material that constitutes the lingerie sold in stores with no windows. Inside, well, I’ll let Russell Stover tell you what’s inside: “This sultry Valentine’s Day assortment is a selection of mouth-watering milk chocolate and tantalizing dark chocolate covering your favorite creams and chews.” Go ahead. Draw the shades, say that in your best Barry White voice and see what happens.

    This is the only box in our tasting that has a guide to flavors, with fancy names for the chocolates, like the hazelnut-flavored “Preston,” though I’m not sure actual hazelnuts were harmed in the making of it. It tastes not unlike the hazelnut flavor of gas station cappuccinos. And the “Cannes,” which is filled with a “lemon souffl

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    Whitman’s Sampler (Two versions: A 13-ounce heart-shaped box and a Snoopy-themed heart box)

    Started in 1842, Whitman’s is one of America’s oldest and most storied chocolate makers — who can count the number of damsels it has helped to woo into the arms of gentlemen callers? But being that old does also have its price. Like, say, having old-fashioned attitudes toward race. One of the company’s products was once called, charmingly, “Pickaninny Peppermints.” But for the life of them, they just couldn’t understand why this Thurgood Marshall feller was upset about it. (The company dropped the name soon after Marshall led a press campaign against it. In 1941.)

    But let’s not dwell on the past! Whitman’s looked, for a moment in the store, like it was the only candy maker willing to go up against Russell Stover in any serious way. It had heart-shaped boxes just as big, nearly as garish, and quantities as massive. But! It turns out that Russell Stover bought Whitman’s in 1993.

    How would you describe this?

    “A real mixed bag. The chocolate-covered peanuts are pretty good, and the salty buttery toffee is the jam. But the ‘cremes’ are so sweet they make my throat want to jump out of my body.”

    Does it make you want sexytime?

    “Not really. It’s so big! All that chocolate = bloat.”

    “It’d get him to first base.”

    “Yes, but only like, obligatory thanks-for-the-thought V-Day sex.”

    “Only salad does that for me.”

    “Not unless it was dusted with X.”

    “Not if Snoopy’s watching.”

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    Peeps Strawberry Cr

    Oh Peeps! It’s OK that just being adorable yellow marshmallow chicks for Easter wasn’t enough for you. You wanted to spread your wings and try out other colors, purples and blues, and you wanted to see what life would be like as bunnies, and then eventually as Halloween pumpkins. It’s all fine, darling. But now? Hearts for Valentine’s Day? And flavored? Yes, Peeps now come mired in artificial flavor for V-Day. “Strawberry Cr

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    Candy Love Beads

    Apparently “love beads” are not just the name of an, um, “adult novelty.” Consider me now schooled in hippie lore, but when I saw these on the shelves, all I should think was, “They let children in here!” (Incidentally, conspicuously near the Valentine’s Day treats there was also one shelf of non-candy merchandise: Justin Beiber dolls. So you know children are supposed to be welcome.)

    So I brought these back to the office,. But no one seemed to think they were OK, either.

    How would you react to this gift?

    “These … are not appropriate for eating.”

    “Oh yes, we meet again.”

    Does it make you want sexytime?

    “God help us.”

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    Andes Mint Thins

    I confess to a lifelong love affair with these things. (Some would say “addiction,” but “love” sounds better, doesn’t it? Plus it’s topical!) Of all the chocolate mint candies in the world, few match these for the perfect balance of minty essence, sweetness and just enough chocolate flavor. But … their Valentine’s Day package is kind of a fail. Behind the cutesy red heart box lies the same green tray and the same green-foil wrapped mints as you would normally get. No A’s for effort today, kids.

    How would you react to this gift?

    “My parents once owned an inn and had these in bulk. Thus, I’d suspect they were stolen from my parents.”

    Does it make you want sexytime?

    “More than some of the others. At least the mint makes my breath taste fresher.”

    “Sure, why not.”

    “Since it makes me think of my parents, no.”

    “Are you $%#% kidding me? I used to get Andes leaving the cafeteria. If you give me Andes on a regular day, you’re a peach. But on Valentine’s Day? No sex for at least a week. A month.”

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    Ferrero Collection

    I’d be hard-pressed to name a big-name chocolate I like more than Ferrero’s Chocolate Rocher: a thin layer of milk chocolate and hazelnut bits coats a crisp wafer ball, inside of which there is a totally convincing chocolate cream and one single, wonderful hazelnut. It’s magic. And this “collection” box packs a few of those lovely things with their dark chocolate counterpart, and another delightful little thing of crisp wafer, white chocolate and coconut. Win!

    How would you describe this?

    “The package is too messy, and I want to hate it, but I can’t because it’s the best thing I’ve ever eaten.”

    How would you react to this gift?

    “Impressed with my date’s upper-middlebrow tastes.”

    “I don’t react. People react to me.”

    Does it make you want sexytime?

    “I don’t know about the bright red velour in the packaging. They could have also mixed up the flavors so it wasn’t just a bunch of coconut next to a bunch of hazelnut, etc. Surprise is key in the art of chocolate assortment. And also of seduction.”

    “After a few of these? Def. 2nd base.”

    “So much!”