by Emma Cohen

As Valentine’s Day approaches, choosing the right chocolatey treat for that special someone might be a bit overwhelming with the vast array of choices. Spork took six popular brands and pitted them against each other, considering overall taste, texture, appearance, variety of flavors, and price and giving each brand a final rating on a scale of ten. All of these chocolates, with the exception of the Thomas Sweet chocolate (bought at their storefront in Palmer Square), were easily purchased at Princeton’s very own Rite-Aid.

Thomas Sweet   –   9.5

Thomas Sweet is a Princeton favorite, and for good reason! Famous for it’s oversized chocolate bars in quirky shapes, Thomas Sweet offers the overall best Valentine’s Day chocolate options. I bought a simple milk chocolate heart for the fair price of $4.75. It was smooth, sweet, and satisfying without being overwhelming. The shape was cute, and it surprisingly didn’t flake or crumble when I bit into it. Though more expensive (over $10), they also offer a selection of variety packs, as well as the option to choose which specific chocolates you would like in a pack. With a great taste and large selection, you can’t go wrong with Thomas Sweet.

Hershey's   –   9

Who doesn’t love a classic Hershey kiss? The brand doesn’t offer many options in terms of Valentine’s Day chocolate, but I found a simple heart-shaped box of kisses for $1.19. A large bag of kisses can cost between three and five dollars, depending on the size of the bag. These kisses are not only cute, with pink wrappers for Valentine’s Day, but they have an appealing, familiar flavor and a convenient, bite-sized shape.

Russell Stover   –   8

Although the name might sound unfamiliar, these are the chocolates you see in every CVS and Rite Aid, and are surprisingly delicious. They have a wide variety of flavors, especially on their website if you want to go the extra mile, and the texture and taste of the chocolates is well-balanced. I bought a miniature variety box of chocolates for just $1.29, a perfect quantity for someone who enjoys chocolate but doesn’t want to be overwhelmed by it. The flavors I got, dark chocolate with nougat, milk with caramel, and milk with coconut shavings, were all sweet but too overpowering.  The only issue with Russell Stover was the somewhat cheap appearance of the package (most likely from rough handling) and the fact that the variety pack left me guessing what flavors I had received.

Lindt   –   9

Lindt chocolates are familiar to most Princetonians, with our own Lindt store right next to Palmer Square. A symbol of chocolate luxury for many, they are primarily known for their signature Lindor truffles. The orbs are filled with creamy chocolate ganache and come in several mouth-watering flavors. One standard bag of Lindor truffles is priced at $7, but the Valentine-themed package I tried was $11.99. As usual, the truffles didn’t fail to please. The shiny shells cracked softly, revealing the smooth, melt-in-your-mouth interior. The only problem? The chocolates are pretty pricey for a high school budget.

Dove   –   9

Dove chocolate’s advertising emphasizes the “bliss” of their chocolate-y products. And when I tried the Dove chocolates, I truly felt that bliss. The chocolates I bought were miniature, heart-shaped milk chocolates called “Silky Smooth Milk Chocolate Truffles” in a beautiful Valentine box. They were creamy and delicious, with a nougaty center. The only issue with this brand was the fact that the flavors are very limited, with only the typical dark, milk, and white varieties.

Ghirardelli   –   7

We all know of Ghirardelli chocolates, refined and smooth with a variety of fillings. Unfortunately, not all the chocolates I opened fit that standard. The package I bought for $4.91 was heart shaped, and included milk chocolate with caramel, dark chocolate with mint, and dark chocolate with raspberry. Disregarding the fact that I’m not a huge chocolate and mint fan, when I opened the mint and dark chocolate squares the filling had oozed out and was, well, unappetizing. The flavor of the mint square was overpowering, and I barely tasted the chocolate, making me wish I had bought a Peppermint Patty instead. But, the raspberry filled and caramel filled chocolates made up for the minty mess, as both had smooth textures and delicious fillings.

Best bang for your buck:

Hershey’s and Russell Stover. Both brands offered Valentine packages under two dollars, which, though small, offered flavor sure to satisfy!

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