Forrest Gump and countless high-school valedictorians agree: “Life is like a box of chocolates.” But for one of the world’s most popular metaphors, chocolate boxes get a lot of hate. Especially around Valentine’s Day, they are considered the No. 1 candy non grata, a corny, heart-shaped attempt at a romantic gesture purchased by the assistants of lazy husbands who forgot to get a “real gift.” I don’t think the namesake of Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. would be too pleased to hear this.
The thing about chocolate boxes is, actually, they’re great. I know from being alive and on the internet that people go nuts for little treats, and chocolate boxes are like one big-ass collection of little treats, arranged in a visually satisfying grid for you to enjoy during your 3 p.m. coffee break.
Let me be clear: I’m not talking about the preselected boxes you can buy at the drugstore. Those are fine, and sometimes trying to follow the corresponding map that explains which chocolate is which can actually be entertaining. But the really good chocolate boxes are the ones that let you choose your own adventure — the ones from those places at the mall that let you fill a certain number of slots with whatever catches your eye in the display glass. I’m talking Godiva (RIP), Russell Stover, those independent spots where everything looks a little bit dusty. What better way to show your partner just how much you understand and adore them than by curating six to twelve bonbons you know they will like? Anyone can track down my favorite niche perfume; try figuring out if I prefer milk or dark chocolate drizzled on my raspberry ganache hearts. That’s the real test of love.
You don’t even have to be in a relationship to enjoy Valentine’s Day chocolate boxes. The mini ones are great for distributing to your closest friends as a little “I love you” token. Alternatively, you can treat yourself to a hand-selected tray of your own favorite candies. (If you care about single-woman Valentine’s Day clichés like being “sad” or “pathetic,” the people behind the counter will never know it’s just for you.) You can eat the best ones first and spend the next few days nibbling at the rest like a princess mouse. If at any point during this time you become really mad at an ex, you can throw them at the TV and scream “Liar!” while your sorority sisters look on in horror.
I’m not the only one who sees the value of the Valentine’s Day chocolate assortment. Skims recently photographed the queen of kitschy Americana, Lana Del Rey, lounging in a giant heart-shaped satin box, the kind you might expect to see filled with praline truffles. I can’t promise you’ll find a lacy leotard when you open yours, but you will get the next best thing. Unless, of course, there are coconut clusters. You should dump whoever gave you those immediately.