10 Grocery Store Boxed Chocolates For Valentine's Day, Ranked

Valentine's Day chocolate stacked counter
Valentine's Day chocolate stacked counter - Sara Klimek/Tasting Table

Love is in the air this Valentine's Day. But actually, that's not love you smell -- it is delicious chocolate. Each brand offers different arrays of seasonal candy for its customers, including selections of truffles, fruit-flavored centers, and plain chocolate candy -- which can range in price anywhere from a couple of dollars to over several hundred.

In an effort to help consumers pick which Valentine's Day candies are worth shopping for this year, we have done a roundup of some of the brands available at our local grocery store and Walmart. We also considered several factors in ranking these holiday candies, including the candy and quality, giftability, and the overall value of each box compared to one another. Above all, we were looking for a chocolate box that we would feel good gifting to someone this holiday, and we can happily say that we found one -- so let's take a look. Prices may vary based on location.

Read more: 25 Chocolate Brands, Ranked Worst To Best

10. Dunkin' Chocolates

Dunkin' chocolates box with candy
Dunkin' chocolates box with candy - Sara Klimek/Tasting Table

For the sake of transparency, we can say that we had the highest hopes for these Dunkin' chocolates. It's a novelty more than anything, but we were still excited to try the blend of Boston Kreme, strawberry-frosted (okay, maybe not that one), and brownie batter. A box containing four of each flavor was priced competitively at $6.99. At first glance, the packaging of this candy was rather excessive. The individually wrapped truffles were inside a plastic bag inside a cardboard box. It's about as eco-friendly as your coffee cups -- but that's another subject entirely.

The aroma from the bag was putrid and, as we expected, a scentful elixir of the three candies mixed together. The brownie batter truffle has a taste that was slightly astringent at first bite but gave way to the plasticky flavor of a brownie donut from the chain. However, the center was too thick and like hot fudge rather than the brownie batter. The Boston Kreme truffles were slightly more pleasant to eat, and the sickeningly sweet flavor of the vanilla custard really came through at the end and took us off guard. But again, the filling was like industrial sludge. Lastly, the strawberry-frosted truffles made us dry heave at first whiff and tasted more like the most awful bubblegum you've ever eaten than a strawberry donut. After trying these candies, we can confidently say that Dunkin' needs to stick to coffee and leave the Valentine's candy up to the professionals.

9. Lindt Lindor Strawberries And Cream

Lindt Lindor truffles package
Lindt Lindor truffles package - Sara Klimek/Tasting Table

If there was one candy we were least excited about for this totally scientific experiment, it's the Lindt Lindor truffles in the limited edition strawberries and cream flavor. Each package, which seems like a lot of wasted cardboard, contains seven candies haphazardly thrown into the bottom of it. The smell from the truffles is noxious and reminds us of an ice cream sundae an unscrupulous teenager would bully someone into ordering -- that contained every single topping on the menu. That, or like all of the fruity aromas from a Yankee Candle meshed into one. Awful and dreadful are the two words that come to mind.

The individually wrapped truffle balls are all perfectly shaped and not broken, which was a plus. But, the flavor was about 90% white chocolate and 10% light strawberry essence. For the trained palate, these truffles could pass for a standard strawberry ice cream at a local scoop shop. But, it's nothing to write home about.

One package of these candies came in at $6.89, which is nearly a dollar a truffle. This is one candy you'll want to leave on the shelf, and honestly, we're glad it's a limited edition.

8. Whitman's Sampler

Whitman's sampler chocolates
Whitman's sampler chocolates - Sara Klimek/Tasting Table

The Whitman's Sampler is the most generic box of chocolates you can find. At a closer glance, these candies are made by Russell Stover but carry an entirely different brand name and slightly different selection than the latter. This box contained four very basic flavors: caramel, vanilla crème, strawberry crème, and nut caramel. It doesn't win on novelty factors and was priced at $3.99 for five candies -- which doesn't make it the cheapest option, either.

The package was tasteful and even had a stamped paper piece covering the candy. But the flavors didn't deliver. First off, the caramel candy didn't resemble any caramel we've ever had; it was thick and nougaty rather than thin and sugary. Meanwhile, the strawberry créme tasted like you took a bite out of a bag of powdered sugar; there was no strawberry in sight. The vanilla créme tasted more like frosting coated in chocolate than a smooth, creamy vanilla center, while the nut caramel was missing nuts. We expected more from a notable name like Russell Stover, even if it was masquerading as some off-brand, cheap alternative. The candy is just plain bad, but it didn't make us wretch. So... silver lining?

7. Ghirardelli Chocolates Signature Collection

Ghirardelli Signature Collection chocolates
Ghirardelli Signature Collection chocolates - Sara Klimek/Tasting Table

Ghirardelli went simple with the signature collection box and included three candies in each of its four flavors: chocolate almond truffle, chocolate hazelnut truffle with toffee, dark chocolate and cacao, and milk chocolate caramel. We couldn't find the almond in the chocolate almond truffle, but we were able to get a little bit (unsatisfactory, though) hazelnut from the other candy. We had to check the box several times to ensure that those were the candies we were eating because they resembled more general "chocolate" than anything. The milk chocolate caramel was more synthetic caramel, and the center had more of a disappointing mousse texture than liquidy, creamy caramel. Lastly, the dark chocolate cacao has a strange blend of cacao nibs sitting in a white chocolate center, which we didn't think did much for the candy or its texture.

This was the most expensive box we reviewed at $14.99. And for a name like Ghirardelli and its title as one of the best chocolate brands on the market, we honestly expected much better in terms of candy quality and selection.

6. Hershey's Pot Of Gold

Hershey's Pot of Gold candy
Hershey's Pot of Gold candy - Sara Klimek/Tasting Table

If you're looking for the best value for candy, Hershey's Pot of Gold has you covered. This massive box was priced at $6.89 and contains 30 truffle candies. However, there is no variety in this box. It's only two types of candies: dark and milk chocolate truffles. The milk chocolate just tasted like a very, very thick and dense Hershey's bar, while the dark chocolate did the same with just a slightly more chocolatey flavor. However, it didn't have the same depth of dark chocolate as our other candies, which gives it the impression that it's made with very cheap, sugary chocolate rather than quality stuff.

We could see buying this box for someone who hates fruity, exploratory flavors and just wants chocolate on Valentine's Day. But you could just save yourself some money and get a Hershey's bar or two from the gas station and call it a day. Hershey's played it very safe with this box, but we weren't impressed at all.

5. Ferrero Collection

Ferrero Collection candies
Ferrero Collection candies - Sara Klimek/Tasting Table

The Ferrero Collection takes the cake for smart packaging. The hard plastic cover protects the eight candies underneath while giving it a mature, relatively modern finish. The package, which cost $6.12, includes three flavors including the classic candies (chocolate and hazelnut with a wafer center), Ferrero Rondnoir (dark chocolate with a wafer and a chocolate pearl center), and the Raffaelo (with white almonds and coconut flakes).

The packaging on this container was nearly impossible to open (we had to get a sharp knife involved), but the attention to detail on the wrapping of each candy was impressive. Since we were already familiar with the taste  of the classic Ferrero Roche, we went with the Ferrero Rondnoir first. The texture was pleasurable, but we could decipher very little beyond that it was a chocolate candy. Plus, the promised pearl in the center didn't evenly split into each bite. As for the Rafaello, we can't help but notice that the coconut flakes scattered everywhere. And unless nothing says "I love you" like getting covered in coconut, we recommend eating this one over the sink. The flavor was sweet and mild, but the white chocolate wasn't particularly exciting. We also would have liked the almond to be spread throughout the truffle rather than just in the center.

This gift is thoughtful but not entirely well executed. The brand is associated with fancy fare, but we think your valentine would be impressed by something else on this list.

4. Godiva Goldmark

Godiva Goldmark candies
Godiva Goldmark candies - Sara Klimek/Tasting Table

One glance at this box, and you could clearly tell it was on the higher end of our price range at $13.99. There are nine candies in the box to sample, with each containing a different flavor. We went with the white chocolate sugar cookie first, which tasted like a piece of super sweet white chocolate rather than anything cookie-based. Overall, we liked the dark chocolate coconut the best out of all these chocolates because it had the premium, dark chocolate flavor we knew and loved, along with the subtle sharpness of the coconut. The dark chocolate mousse had a good balance of mousse flavor and soft interior. Lastly, the milk chocolate almond caramel also was a decent candy and has the profile of an upgraded Snickers bar (although, the Snickers would have been cheaper).

We were most surprised by the dark chocolate raspberry velvet, which has the true taste of a fresh raspberry enshrouded in deep dark chocolate. It was heavenly to eat, and blew almost all of the other raspberry candies we sampled out of the water.  The milk chocolate hazelnut heaven would have also given us the same impression, but it was missing the crunch of the praline that we wanted. Outside of that, the dark chocolate heart, milk chocolate heart, and plain milk chocolate caramel embrace didn't deliver on any flavor promises. The selection on this box was good, but we wouldn't go out of our way to buy it.

3. Russell Stover

Russell Stover candy box
Russell Stover candy box - Sara Klimek/Tasting Table

We saved the red-cellophane-wrapped Russell Stover candies for last. We went with the brand's most basic box, which features nine pieces of candy across seven flavors. The first we sampled was a plain chocolate truffle, which was average and nothing out of the ordinary. The strawberry créme tasted just like a lousy strawberry donut frosting, while the nut caramel only had one discernable piece of nut in it. The brand also missed the texture of the chocolate "buttercream," -- which we thought was just an insult to the frosting. Lastly, the vanilla créme candy tasted like you were eating a cupcake candle. It was far too sweet, and the center was like the sweetest marshmallow fluff ever created sandwiched in chocolate. It could work for s'mores but not for eating out of hand.

Our favorite was the peanut cluster candy, which was just peanuts in chocolate. It's so hard to screw up, and we're glad Russell Stover didn't drop the ball on it. Overall, this might be a very popular candy brand for people, but we think it deserves far less praise, even at $5.97 a box.

2. Elmer Chocolates

Elmer Chocolates container
Elmer Chocolates container - Sara Klimek/Tasting Table

The cheesy packaging of this chocolate made us not want to add it to our cart. But, we had to do it in the name of science. The container contains five chocolates, with one of each flavor. Its offerings were somewhat standard and included caramel, strawberry crème, orange crème, cocoa truffle, and chocolate caramel. Nothing new, nothing exciting -- just like its packaging.

The chocolate caramel was a bit looser than other varieties, while the orange créme tasted like a sugar bomb covered in chocolate, with just a background of some orange flavor. The strawberry créme tasted similar to the Dunkin' strawberry frosted chocolate (but more like the gooey, liquid frosting should have been). We were more impressed by the plain caramel candy with a decent liquid center and solid toffee-like undertone. But our favorite of the bunch was the plain chocolate truffle. It was solid and fudgy but, in the same breath, nothing really terrific. Overall, we weren't impressed by this tray, but it was a step above some of the other low-end brands we looked at. It was also priced much lower than the other candies at only $1.24.

1. Sam's Choice Belgian Truffles

Sam's Choice Belgian Truffles
Sam's Choice Belgian Truffles - Sara Klimek/Tasting Table

The Sam's Choice Belgian Truffles clocked in as one of our lower-priced options at $5.97. This value is very impressive, considering most of our other products cost upwards of $6 to $13 a pack. We were also impressed that this sampler container of Belgian Truffles contains 12 candies, which is more than most of the other brands. While the price tag gives us some hope for the low-budget Valentine's in our lives, it also gives us feelings of uneasiness and worry. Moreover, one sniff of the entire box revealed an aroma that confused us.

The box has five different flavors: milk chocolate raspberry, white chocolate with raspberry and cookies, white chocolate mocha cream, and milk chocolate with passionfruit cream. At first glance, the flavors in this box are more unusual than the other types we sampled, which gave us a fuzzy, excited feeling.

The mocha truffle lacked espresso flavor until the end but had a pleasant, airy center reminiscent of whipped cream. The milk chocolate cookie with raspberries was our top pick from a textural standpoint, with bits of cookie pieces that made for a satisfying crunch. The cupcake-shaped white chocolate raspberry one had a pleasing crunch of both tart raspberry filling and freeze-dried raspberries on top. But the passionfruit one tasted so synthetic that we could barely finish a whole bite. The bottom line is that this box was remarkable for the price and rather delicious -- sans the passionfruit truffles.

Our Methodology

Chocolate candy boxes stacked
Chocolate candy boxes stacked - Sara Klimek/Tasting Table

Numerous factors played into how we ranked these candy offerings. The first factor we considered was the texture and flavor of the candies. This included whether the brands made candy that accurately reflected the label (like, did a nut caramel actually have nuts in it?) and the selection of candies in each box. We also looked for high-quality chocolate that was unctuous and rolled off the tongue rather than cheap-tasting chocolate that was laden with sugar and came off chalky. And although none of the candies delivered on this, we would have liked to see more complex notes of salt, heat, or spice to give these chocolates a grown-up flavor.

We also looked for products that were indeed gift-able, meaning that they had nice packaging and looked generally presentable. But if the flavors inside of the box didn't make the cut, no amount of cardboard and wrapping paper would make us want to buy it. The price was a factor in the decision, but more so in the justification of purchasing the product. For example, it was reasonable to expect a box with five chocolates to be priced less than a box with 30. If the quality was decent, we would have justified spending more on it.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.