Best and Worst Valentine Chocolate Smackdown

Affordable chocolates for Valentines day range from awesome to awful. We rank the best to worst valentine chocolate for 2016.

Russell Stover Private Reserve Fine Assorted Chocolates
Russell Stover Private Reserve Fine Assorted Chocolates

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…

Want to read about great LOCAL chocolatiers? Me too. So click here for their stories.

Lindt Classic Assorted Chocolates, $9.99, 10 pieces

Lindt Classic Assorted Chocolates Valentine Chocolates
Lindt Classic Assorted Chocolates Valentine Chocolates

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.
Map: Yes
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

Ghiradelli Sweet Hearts Premium Chocolate Assortment
Ghiradelli Sweet Hearts Premium Chocolate Assortment

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.
Map: Yes
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

Russell Stover Private Reserve Fine Assorted Chocolates
Russell Stover Private Reserve Fine Assorted Chocolates

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.
Map: Yes
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

Ferrero Collection
Ferrero Collection

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.
Map: Yes
Calories for the Box: 600
Fave Flavors: Rondnoir, Raffaello
Love-O-Meter: Kiss me, Romeo!

Godiva Assorted Chocolates, $12.99, 15 pieces

Godiva Valentine Assortment
Godiva Valentine Assortment

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.
Map: No
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

Hershey's Pot of Gold premium collection
Hershey’s Pot of Gold premium collection

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.
Map: No
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

Whitman's Sampler
Whitman’s Sampler

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.
Map: Yes
Calories for the Whole Box: 1,733
Fave Flavors: None
Love-O-Meter: I hate you, too.


20 thoughts on “Best and Worst Valentine Chocolate Smackdown

  1. Try Made Local Marketplace at 529 4th Street for some really, really good slated carmel chocolates in a box.

    They have other lovely stuff too. It’s artisan without that pesky snotty.

    Spread love, catch smiles.

  2. This run-down on easy to find chocolate is a terrific public service & accurate. I have been a See’s fan for years but tastes are changing & that is reflected in the closing of their San Francisco stores. I would prefer a richer, more intense dark chocolate & a lot less sugar in the creams. They are always fresh, however, while drug store chocolates are stored for months before they are sold. Just try to find actual butter (not “butter oil”) in mass produced chocolates. Lindt is making chocolate in New Hampshire as well as Switzerland & now owns Russell Stover as well. I think the quality of chocolate will improve in the U.S. just as the quality of coffee has improved.

  3. Any bag of chocolates at the Dollar Tree stores. Choice of caramel-filled hearts, crunchy hearts, fudge hearts, solid milk chocolate hearts. $1.00 for about eight of them. Also cherry cordials, three for $1.00. Pig out.

  4. Hard to go wrong with See’s. But if you’re feeling more confident, go to Whole Foods Market and pick a few different brands of fair-trade organic chocolate bars. Combine with a can of Bella Rosa coffee and artfully wrap it all in a cute bag with lots of tissue paper and lots of ribbons. The presentation is just as important as the contents.

    1. Last year See’s had a heart shaped dark truffel that was to die for! I need to go by to see if it’s there again. It was their highest rating of dark chocolate that they had ever had.

  5. Who buys anything Valentine’s related at target? You get what you pay for which is why your expensive lady deserves better! If my lady bought me a pair of socks from target she would be cut off.

  6. I agree with SteveDave.See’s Dark Chocolates and Nuts ‘N Chews are always delicious and fresh. No bad items at all.

      1. Sees, in my opinion, are the best.

        Few reasons, you can avoid the nuts and chews altogether if you desire and purchase the soft centers 1 or 2-pound box.

        However, my favorite alternate; you can build your own 1 or 2 lb box of “chocolate goodness” of one specific type of candy or mix it up, completely your choice.

        Those waiting in line behind you may not appreciate your pickiness but hey if I’m going to treat myself it’ll be with the candies I love. I have at some point in the past 30 years had some of the boxes of “ugh” you list in the article foisted upon me by the cute albeit dense when it comes to chocolate buying SO, it’s ok he gets forgiven and then sent on a Sees run!

    1. Have you bumped your head? Lindt is at the top of this list for a reason! I’m not sure why Hershey or Whitman is even on this list.

        1. Aww it’s my favorite troll who suggested the Dollar Tree for candy. Um, in your own words, “how dull”. May I suggest stepping away from the keyboard, Bitter Betty?

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