The Essential Valentine’s Day Chocolate Box Cheat Sheet

Which treats should you dig into first and which ones should you avoid entirely?

It’s that time of year again, friends. When you forget to get your girlfriend a Valentine’s Day present and, in a panic, rush into your local pharmacy, and buy mint satin floss, the most expensive women’s body spray you can find, and, of course, a box of heart-shaped chocolates. And though we can’t save you from purchasing that Hawt Chik Candy Apple Spritz, we can save you the heartache and pain of biting into random chocolates you don’t like, thanks to our heart-shaped chocolate cheat sheet.

First, some things you need to know: I purchased two of the standard Russell Stover 6.25-ounce heart boxes of 12 chocolates, to make sure they weren’t mixing things up, and for health. Said box does not contain a guide to what’s what. Even if you search around online, RS does not make it easy to figure out, and even provides a hint-oriented FAQ page that only alludes to “indicators” of what chocolates usually are, like “Rectangular candies are typically filled with nougat.” It’s like I’m Nic Cage in the chocolate company version of National Treasure.

Starting at the bottom and following along with this handy chocolate key, here are the 12 chocolates in the box (I think), my totally helpful tasting notes, and whether you should eat them.

russell stover's valentine's day chocolate

1. Milk Chocolate Vanilla/Coffee Buttercream

Of all the chocolates in this box, I have the least confidence in my call for this one. Chocolates with soft centers, like truffles and “whips,” are supposed to be round, and yet here this thing sits, round as Charlie Brown’s dome, and not really matching up with the taste of a “whip” or a truffle. It definitely has some sort of buttercream inside, but now I’m kind of tasting hints of coffee.
Worth eating? Yes. Quite possibly for the simple fact that I really need someone to get this thing and tell me what it is, exactly. 

2/9. Milk Chocolate Toffee Sticks

Also known as “rich man Butterfingers”, the toffee sticks hold two positions in Nirvana’s favorite shape of box, and are the easiest thing to recognize in the Stover’s arsenal, which is relieving, considering they’re next to that first one.
Worth eating? Yes. No one is too good for fancy mini-Butterfingers.

3. Milk Chocolate Buttercream Caramels

These were my favorite growing up. I would always look for the square one in the mix when I got chocolates in my stocking on Christmas, because I knew it was a caramel, and I wouldn’t be surprised by some sort of devil mystery nougat or cream. Caramels are Russell Stover’s strength, just like shooting fireworks out of her hands and awkwardly flirting with Gambit were Jubilee’s strength in the X-Men animated TV show.
Worth eating? Yes. Jubilee sucked. These do not.

4. Dark Chocolate Molasses Chew

I don’t remember these, but man, they’re good. The “chew” part of the name means it has a consistency almost like the caramel, except not as sticky, and the slight molasses kick blends nicely with the less sweet dark chocolate. I also enjoy the tiger stripe chocolate drizzle, because I’m basically an artist.
Worth eating? Yes. This is up there on the podium, in the top three.

5. Milk Chocolate Maple Nut Cream

As an American person who was raised in proximity to Vermont and has met several Canadians, I am a fan of maple, nuts, and chocolate. This should be in my wheelhouse, right next to all of my sweet wheels. And yet, I’m not into it. The maple flavor is too subtle, the nuttiness really only shows up in one bite, and I’m kind of losing my thing for milk chocolate as I grow older, and my palate refines itself past exclusively eating pizza rolls and California-style Sunny D.
Worth eating? No. This falls into the range of “just kind of a chocolate.” Faux-generously pass it on to someone else.

6. Milk Chocolate Chocolate Buttercream

As you may be able to tell at this point, I’m not a huge fan of the “cream” chocolates, or even the Prince song “C.R.E.A.M.”, and this mix of milk chocolate and that substance doesn’t deserve to be invited to dance with your mouth.
Worth Eating? No. I already made a “don’t let it dance with your mouth” reference.

7. Milk Chocolate Roman Nougat

Now this, friends, this was a revelation. Break it open and you see the pink inside and immediately start getting suspicious. “Should I trust this?!?!” you will shout at the person sitting next to you on the city bus, jabbing it in their face as they try and read The Goldfinch. But it turns out, you should. The cherry nougat, nuts, and chewy texture are extremely satisfying together, and contrast each other enough to keep you entertained at least until you reach your stop.
Worth eating? Oh hell yeah.

8. Dark Chocolate Buttercream Caramel

If I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would likely be cereal, because it is somewhat nutritional, and I’d like to live past my forties. But if I could eat only one thing in this box, it would be this. As I’ve explained before, RS does caramel well, and my fancy palate is now thoroughly invested in dark chocolate. And zero-coupon bonds.
Worth eating? Eat immediately!

9. See #2

10. Dark Chocolate Buttercream I Can’t Figure Out

This is just as perplexing as #1, except I can’t even find a potential suitor for this flavor even on Russell Stover’s list of candies. All I know is that it’s dark chocolate and sweet. No coffee notes. I can say with confidence it’s definitely not the Dark Chocolate Orange Jelly Strings at least.
Worth eating? Yes. Just please eat this and tell me what it is. Or just get someone from Russell Stover to break this Omertà!

11. Dark Chocolate Coconut Creams

I mean, look at them, they have to be, right? Thing is: I don’t taste a single hint of coconut. So maybe it has to be vanilla. But I don’t see vanilla cream on the dark chocolate list for RS. I’ve only eaten like 22 pieces of candy at this point, and am having trouble typing. Either way, they’re not great.
Worth Eating? No. If they tasted more like coconut, and that was your bag, I’d feel differently.

12. Dark Chocolate Truffle

I am biased against most truffles, as I don’t like their smoother consistency, especially when you get the same flavor as the outer chocolate shell, so this was too much for me. But finding out Betty “Spaghetti” Horn’s husband had been killed in A League Of Their Own was also too much for me, so I might just be kind of a pansy.
Worth eating? No. Not unless you want to just tweak out on chocolate. Which you might, actually.

russell stover's valentine's day chocolate

Kevin Alexander is a former Thrillist editor and is currently reeling from having just consumed 1,600 calories worth of chocolates. Follow his pleas for help @KAlexander03.