Battle of the Cheesy, Heart-Shaped Boxes of Chocolate
Click on any image to enlarge
Doesn't the box in the middle look like the mask from Scream? But which one is the best buy?
Let's say you like someone, but not enough to get him a $100 box of chocolates from La Maison du Chocolat. Or maybe you only hooked up with her once, and not satisfactorily, either. Or perhaps you're too lazy or too late to get a box of Jacques Torres, and end up popping into a Duane Reade just as you're about to pick up your date for, say, dinner at McDonald's.
FiTR has found itself in similar situations, and figured that what all of us needed was an accurate guide to the cheap and garishly sentimental end of the chocolate continuum, you know, boxes of chocolates with big sloppy dogs pictured on the front, and assortments so small, they could be eaten by a rat (not you, hopefully) in seconds. So here's your guide to cheap Valentine's chocolates, with descriptive material and a scorecard.
Russell Stover (8 pieces, 4.75 oz, $3.99; typical fillings -- whipped pink stuff (three pieces), chocolate fondant, coconut) Tasting Notes: Chocolate overly sweet, filling of no particular distinction, coconut the cheesiest tasting, like Almond Joy; half light, half dark chocolates, with the dark chocolates a plus. Overall Score (out of 100): 37
Russell Stover (3 pieces, 1.75 oz, $1.59; typical filliings -- chocolate mousse, caramel, coconut patty) Tasting Notes: Same quality as the 8-piece Russell Stover, above, only coconut now embedded in plain chocolate, caramel surprisingly good. Overall Score: 39
Dove (6 pieces, 2.6 oz, $4.99; typical fillings -- all are light-chocolate truffle hearts) Tasting Notes: At the higher price, were these a little better than the Russell Stover that had preceded them? Not really, though the chocolates tasted like they'd been conched longer, resulting in more smoothness. Filling, meh! The redundancy of the pieces actually knocked the final score down, because of the sheer boredom that resulted, and so did the ugliness of the box, which happens to be made of metal. Overall Score: 32
Elmer Chocolate (8 pieces, 3.2 oz, $2.99; typical fillings -- orange fondant, dark caramel, spiced chocolate) Tasting Notes: These chocolates are really tiny, and can't even fill the slots in the cheap plastic tray inside the box. Yet, there was something lovable about these chocolates - which seem to come in no form other than the heart-shaped box with different dogs on the lid. Made by a company in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, these chocolates may actually reflect local preferences. Overall Score: 48
Whitman's (3 pieces, 1.6 oz, $1.79; typical fillings -- hard caramel, plain milk chocolate, fudge) Tasting Notes: Wait a minute! The chocolate quality and packaging seem nearly identical to Russell Stover's. Could it be the same company? The chocolate is just as bad, but the selection of chocolates is better in Whitman's, hence the higher score. Besides, having an unfilled chocolate in the assortment is classy. Overall Score: 42
Follow me on Twitter if you dare! -- @robertsietsema
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to New York dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.