Halloween might be America’s most popular candy-coated holiday, but Valentine’s Day is hot on its heels.
This February, confection companies such as Hershey’s, Mars, Brach's, Sugarfina and Dylan’s Candy Bar are aiming to make Valentine’s Day extra sweet with a slew of exciting-- and, in some cases, not-so-wallet friendly-- offerings. Most of these sweets are inspired by classic candies, but some confectioners are getting extra creative in the hopes of capturing customers’ hearts … along with a portion of the $18.2 billion those consumers are expected to spend on Valentine's Day this year.
This year, white chocolate is pretty ubiquitous among several brands. Hershey’s, which deserves credit for giving us the original Kiss back in 1907, is now offering White Cookie Cupcake Kisses ($4.39) exclusively at Target, as well as white-chocolate Red Velvet Kit Kats ($4.39) and 5-oz. Reese’s White Crème Peanut Butter Hearts ($5.49). Mars, too, is embracing the white-chocolate trend with its new White Cheesecake M&Ms ($2.88), which are only available at Walmart.
Another fad that’s sweeping the sweet aisle?
Sugary candies aimed squarely at millennials. Brach's, for example, makes Emoticon Gummi Hearts ($3.90) branded with little emoji-like faces, while Dylan’s Candy Bar is literally baking "Galentine's" sugar cookies ($9 each) in the shape of the "dancing girls" emoji. And over at Sugarfina, they're cooking up pig-shaped "Men Are Pigs" gummies (among other biting treats) for their Love Bites Bento Box ($26), likely for those same single gals celebrating Galentine's Day.
So how do these candies stack up? We tried several of these toothsome treats to get the inside scoop on this year’s candy crazes. Opinions were mixed, but if you have a sweet tooth, there's likely something here to wet your whistle.
White Cheesecake M&Ms
All of our taste-testers agreed that the Cheesecake M&Ms looked appetizing, but many came to the consensus that they don’t taste much like cheesecake.
“White chocolate … That’s really all I’m getting,” remarked one taster.
“There’s no cheesecake,” another agreed.
Still, the White Cheesecake M&Ms earned points for their pretty pastel colors, and one of our tasters liked them enough to repeatedly “cleanse [her] palate” with an M&M between other sweets.
Sugarfina Chocolate-Covered Champagne Bears
Sugarfina’s Champagne gummy bears are made with Dom Perignon, and they retail for $26, making them pricier than the average bag of Haribos. But are they worth the splurge?
One taste-tester found these spiked gummies to be “amazing,” but more than a few failed to taste any Champagne underneath the chocolaty shell. On the other hand, their stomachs spoke louder than words, as most tasters went back for seconds, thirds...and more.
Red Velvet Kit Kat Miniatures
Kit Kat has released dozens of strange flavors over the years — mostly in Japan — but their latest state-side offering takes inspiration from a decidedly American dessert: red velvet cake.
“I’m tasting a hint of cream cheese frosting, and I am a fan,” remarked one of our testers. “I would be your Valentine if you gave me these,” she added.
Another tester warned that “the color is very misleading of the taste,” mostly because she wasn’t expecting the crème coating to taste like anything other than white chocolate.
Hershey’s White Cookie Cupcake Kisses
Our tasters were divided by Hershey’s White Cookie Cupcake Kisses — are they supposed to taste like cake? Or cookies? — but the Kisses' white chocolate essence wasn't lost on our experts.
“I’m sensing a theme,” said one of our panelists from Australia. “[Is] white chocolate a thing on Valentine’s Day? Is that a thing?”
That said, only about half of our testers tasted any cake flavor (the other half sensed the white chocolate), but the unique, delicate cookie crunch was appreciated by all.
Dylan’s Candy Bar’s Mystery Valentine’s Day Lollipops
Our tasters also tried the new silvery heart-shaped suckers ($4 apiece) from Dylan’s Candy Bar, which dissolve to reveal fun messages after only a few licks.
“That’s kinda cool!” remarked one of our testers, clearly surprised by the message on her pop. “You know what mine says? ‘You’re hot!’”
We won't give away all the secret messages but these new lollipops from Dylan's were appreciated by all for their sheer novelty.
With so many new treats in stores this season, including some that celebrate Galentine's Day and others that pander to millennials, our panel was also pretty certain that Valentine's Day isn't just for lovers anymore. But you know what? That's just fine with us. After all, there's more than enough candy to go around — especially for those of us that don't mind white chocolate.