Valentine’s Day is upon us, which means love is in the air and candy is in my stomach. And what better way to say “I love you” than to pass brutal judgement on sweet treats for no reason other than I want to and feel like it!
First, a few guidelines. There will be some notable Valentine’s Day delicacies missing from this list. Chocolate-covered strawberries may be a delicious, thematic treat, but they are not a candy. This list also does not include most of the regular-degular candies that just repackage themselves in red and pink: your Skittles, your Starbursts, your Jolly Ranchers. It also doesn’t include anything from Sugarfina and its ilk because, as much as it pains me to say it, the fancy candy is in a category of its own.
With that in mind, here is the definitive ranking of the best Valentine’s Day candy, taking into consideration taste, novelty, thematic fit, and whether it suits me, personally. No further questions.
31. Candy Corn
Criminal. Candy corn does not get to put on pink and red clothes and become a part of Valentine’s Day. Stay in your autumnal lane, corn!
30. Cordial Cherries
A sick berry bathing in its own guts? No, thank you!
29. Red-Raspberry Hearts
These are equal parts crunchy and sticky, painful and ancient. They are a murder weapon, not a candy.
28. Hard-Candy Hearts
These candies are hard but at least they taste bad! Bullying in the form of candy. Horrible.
27. Red and Pink Jellybeans
A thematic candy cop-out! At least make them heart-shaped.
26. M&Ms Cupids Mix
I repeat, a thematic candy cop-out! Imagine a world in which we were given heart-shaped M&Ms for Valentine’s Day. Until that happens, humanity will never reach full enlightenment.
25. Hershey’s Kisses
I will award bonus points for the name “Kisses” being slightly more on-theme. However, Hershey’s Kisses are an unsatisfying treat unless they are placed in the middle of a warm peanut-butter cookie. Be gone, Hershey’s Kisses!
Dinner and a show! Unfortunately, while this is cute in concept, the actual candy tastes like chalky, Pepto-Bismol pills. I was rooting for you, Pez :(
23. Conversation Hearts
I would rank these lower, but they get bonus points for novelty. Conversation hearts are an acceptable — though yucky! — Valentine’s Day candy. Unless we’re talking about the new Sweethearts candy hearts that say things like “push thru” and “chin up.” Those are a hate crime, and, if they come anywhere near me, I will press charges.
22. Hershey’s Hearts
This is what Hershey’s Kisses wish they were. Not bad but not noteworthy. A solid five out of ten.
21. Hershey’s Hugs
Hershey’s Hugs are the superior Hershey’s chocolate morsel. The only thing that would make them better is if they were Cookies ’n’ Creme instead of just milk and white chocolate. Something to consider, Mr. Hershey!
20. A Giant Hershey’s Kiss
Is this easy to eat? No. Is it particularly good chocolate? Also no. However, one big Hershey’s Kiss is the hilarious work of a madman, and I must applaud it for committing to the bit.
19. Sour Smoochi Lips
Eating mouth-shaped things feels cannibalistic, and these lips all look … chapped. However, every sour candy is a solid six out of ten.
18. Heart-shaped Lollipops
Nobody is talking about the “heart-shaped lollipop to hot girl” pipeline. And yet, every time I eat a heart-shaped lollipop, I become the love interest of a mediocre man in a Wes Anderson movie … coincidence?
17. Tootsie Pops
When I think of a Tootsie Pop, I can only picture it taped to a little Valentine with Snoopy and Woodstock hugging. These were also a formative part of my youth because of the scene in Little Giants where Rick Moranis asks his daughter, Ice Box (sry no time for context), if she’s wearing lipstick, and she lies and says it’s a cherry Tootsie Pop. Normalize using candy as makeup!
16. Blow Pops
Another staple of elementary school Valentine’s Day celebration, and another candy that is two treats in one. I love to cut the roof of my mouth on shards of broken lollipop in order to gnaw on some bad gum. <3
15. Fun Dip
Lik-M-Aid? I hardly know-M-Aid! (Google it.) Fun Dip is a gateway drug, and I mean that as a compliment.
14. Ring Pop
If you get engaged on Valentine’s Day, it must be with a Ring Pop. Romantic!
13. Chocolate Roses
Once, a guy gave my sister a flower, and she ate it in front of him. Anyway, these are cute and actually edible but … a little sad? Still, an acceptable Valentine’s Day delight.
12. Raspberry + Crème Kit Kats
These Valentine’s Day Kit Kats are among the only good iterations of “chocolate but make it pink.”
11. Swedish Fish Hearts
Swedish Fish gets it! Turn the fish into little hearts! Perfect execution of a perfect candy.
10. Sweetarts Conversation Hearts
The superior conversation hearts! Also, Sweetarts would never betray me by emblazoning their candy with messages like “Don’t quit.”
9. Starburst Heart-shaped Jellybeans
The superior Valentine’s Day jelly beans! Not only are they primarily pink Starburst-flavored, they’re actually heart-shaped. Bravo!
8. Dove Chocolates
Horny as hell and taste good.
7. Ghirardelli Chocolate Hearts
If Dove chocolate is a booty call, Ghirardelli hearts are the committed, loving relationship we all crave. They always wait for you to watch Netflix and are good at deciding what they want for dinner.
6. Sour Patch Kids Hearts
Sour and chewy (but not super sticky) are among the best two things a candy can be. Great work, Sour Patch Kids.
5. Box of Chocolates (Big)
“A big box of chocolates is like an Advent calendar with no time frame.” –Forrest Gump
4. Box of Chocolate (Small)
The box of chocolate’s greatest hits! I would rather get four or five perfect chocolates than 25 mystery treats. Especially if mystery ends up being chocolate-covered fruity fluff.
3. Ferrero Rocher
There is no other pre-packaged chocolate that you could set on a plate, still in its wrapper, and get away with calling it dessert. Ferrero Rocher chocolates are essentially little Nutella nuggets and come dressed in gold and a cute little skirt. What’s not to love?
2. Heart-Shaped Ding Dongs
Shh! I know this is not a candy, but nobody is talking about heart-shaped Ding Dongs and we must. (1) They are delicious, and (2) They! Are! Called! Ding Dongs!!! If I have a platform, I am going to use it to talk about the issues that matter, like Hostess snack cakes and how good their names are. I also need to give an honorable mention to Little Debbie’s Be My Valentine cakes. They would be in second place if they were called Little Debbie’s Be My Ding Dong.
1. Reese’s Peanut Butter Hearts
Reese’s is the undisputed champion of any and all holiday candy. Valentine’s Day is no different. Do their peanut butter hearts resemble a chocolate-covered gua sha more than anything else? Sure, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they are delicious. If you give someone a heart-shaped Reese’s, you are legally married. Congratulations!