Ah Valentine’s Day, the day of love and lust, passion and pink, mood music and… Money. Let’s face it, JLo was wrong, love do cost a thing. The holiday season just ended, and chances are you’ve already spent a hefty sum on that special someone. And with dinner at your favorite restaurant, flowers, and a present, funds can be pretty tight.


Photo by Emily Magruder

But, you can’t forget what is (in my professional opinion) the most important part of Feb. 14th: chocolate. Giving the gift of chocolate is a must if you’re looking to do this holiday right, especially since it’s a proven aphrodisiac. To ensure that you still get your fix of chocolate (kisses), I set out to find the best Valentine’s Day chocolates on the market for under 5 bucks.

I found, bought and taste-tested three calibers of chocolates that came in under budget. Here’s what I found:

Generic Grocery Store Brand


Photo by Emily Magruder

Let me elaborate on the deception that I uncovered. The same company makes and sells chocolate under the Russell Stover, Whitman’s and Pangburn’s brand names. Therefore, all of the chocolates in these boxes are exactly the same. Similarly, the CVS brand box contained the same chocolates as the generic box from my local grocery store.

Takeaway: Don’t toil over which box of chocolates to get if it comes down to Russell Stover vs. Whitman’s or CVS vs. grocery store, just pick the one with the cutest box.

Brand Name Chocolate


Photo courtesy of japangourmet.wordpress.com

I tried the 3 classic flavors that came in every box: caramel, double chocolate, and strawberry. The chocolates from the generic box were all way too sweet and tasted weirdly like alcohol and cough syrup. The brand names, on the other hand, had much better overall flavor, texture, and were actually pretty good, considering the low price-point.

Takeaway: In this case, go for the brand name. The extra dollar or two is worth it. And so is your S.O. While they cost a little bit more, brand names are exponentially better than the generic.

Classic Candies (i.e. Hershey’s)


Photo courtesy of melazenydo.sickworldhosting.com

Most bags of classic candies and Hershey’s chocolates run under $5, even the Valentine’s Day-themed ones.

Takeaway: If you’re not dead set on getting a heart-shaped assorted box, pick up a regular bag of your significant other’s favorite chocolate or candy. No surprises. Just delicious.

You can even make your own sweet treats or, if you just got paid and are feeling generous, spring for some more high-end options. Bottom line, whether you’re buying gifts this Valentine’s Day for your lady or man (or for yourself, no judgment here), chocolate should never be left out.

Craving more chocolate? Check out these articles: