I think that over the course of my several posts on the subject, I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s day. Part of this is that I don’t think I’ve ever engaged in any significant observance of the holiday since I made it out of fourth grade, but part of it is that with all the kitschy, cheesy and/or downright questionable Valentine’s Day merchandise out there these days, it seems harder than ever to find something that’s actually meaningful. If, on the other hand, you’re feeling noncommittal, lukewarm or downright cynical about the whole thing, there’s no shortage of bad Valentine’s Day gift ideas out there.
Before I go too much further, I should emphasize that the items I have found here are much more the exceptions than the rule. Most of the Valentine’s Day merchandise available out there is fairly reasonable, or at least inoffensive. This is, of course, not a bad thing when you’re dealing with third graders, but if you’re in the situation of trying to win someone’s undying love and affection, you might need to set your sights just a bit higher than inoffensive (You’re probably also going to need a lot more than a heart-shaped box of chocolates, but that falls outside the scope of this article.) In most cases, using a little bit of common sense should be more than sufficient to keep you out of trouble. The problem is that there are also a surprising number of items out there that would NEVER make a good Valentine’s Day present under any circumstances. For the purposes of this roundup, we will be sticking to merchandise found within mainstream retail stores, where the vast majority of items on offer are family-friendly, although as you’ll find, this doesn’t necessarily mean that all are necessarily in good taste. After the jump, a look at some of the not-so-great Valentine’s Day gifts on offer this year.
If you missed last year’s post, you may also find it here:
We start our tour with a look at some of the traditional heart-shaped boxes of candy on offer. In previous Blog posts I have discussed the topic of Valentine’s Day candy already, but wanted to highlight a couple of items that stood out for one reason or another. A big part of the whole Valentine’s Day deal is that it’s supposed to be a special occasion. So what better occasion is there to give your sweetheart a heart-shaped box filled with the same pedestrian mass-produced candy she’s been eating all year? Not that I begrudge the Hershey company their obligatory annual allotment of candy selling holidays, but a box of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups is a great way to tell your sweetheart that you waited until the last minute to do your gift shopping and this was the only thing they had left in the store.
This becomes especially evident when you see that much more suitable alternatives are available for just a buck more (or less than that if you manage to catch something on sale.) The obnoxious shocking pink leopard print is, of course, strictly optional.
Of course, even that isn’t enough. There are some Valentine’s Day problems that can only be solved through the use of gratuitous Faux-Vegas blinkenlights on the front of the box (they can get away with copying the design of the famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign because it was never copyrighted in the first place.) This way, when the candy is done your Valentine will feel too guilty to throw away the now empty but still blinky box, but may never be able to find an actual use for the thing. Dressing up in a fake Elvis costume to give this to your Valentine is, of course, optional.
If you’re not quite ready for the glitz and glamour of an obnoxiously-flashing Vegas Valentine, there are much more generic alternatives as well, courtesy of Ikea. Six ounces of chocolate, served with a side of Scandinavian efficiency (well actually it’s German, but you don’t have to tell anyone that part) for $4.99. Bring a reusable bag and you can even knock a quarter off the price. Surprisingly enough, you don’t need to assemble this one yourself. It’s perfect for all those no-frills relationships, and you can even pick up a brand new sofa to sleep on while you’re there if your Valentine was expecting a diamond necklace instead of this.
…Because if there’s one thing that everyone wants on Valentine’s day, it’s drama, right? Didn’t think so.
And for the ladies out there who are looking for a Valentine’s present for their man but find themselves lamenting the scarcity of pink heart-shaped cordless drills, a number of vaguely male-themed candy boxes are on offer. No word on whether these boxes include a free collar and leash with purchase though.
Then, of course, there’s the ever popular “license something about a year after it’s peaked” approach. Presumably if you keep opening these things, eventually you’ll just end up with a Fun Size Snickers bar and three M&Ms for all your troubles.
Finishing off the candy heart department for this year, we’ve got another contender in the “Death by Chocolate” category: Three pounds of solid heart-shaped Hershey’s chocolate, straight up. Although this version is a bit less unwieldy than Russell Stover’s 52-ounce monster, that doesn’t mean it’s any healthier.
This 3-pound behemoth weights in at a hefty 6,600 calories (compared to 6,450 in the Russell Stover box) with 420 grams (nearly a pound) of fat, 370 grams of saturated fat, and 1.6 pounds of sugar. Fortunately, the sheer weight and volume of this thing means that it would most likely take a well-trained competitive eater to polish off one of these in one sitting. I would definitely not recommend that anyone else try to do so.
If candy isn’t your thing, why not try cookies instead? If you’re planning to confess your undying affection through the use of baked goods, the first thing that comes to mind should naturally be an elaborately decorated skull-and-crossbones shaped cookie. That way, if it becomes necessary to do so, you can still leave the option open to claim that you really actually sort of want them dead.
And while we’re on the subject, what could be more romantic than giving your sweetheart a voodoo doll for Valentine’s Day? Nothing says commitment like giving your Valentine the ability to inflict unspeakable pain and suffering on you if the whole thing turns sour. I have no idea why exactly they included conversation hearts with this thing, although I suspect that one of those could inflict some serious hurting if someone could find a way to jab it through your spleen.
From the folks that brought you a Tempest in a Teapot and Bottled Lightning comes that soon-t0-be holiday classic, devil in a coffee cup.
And while you’re out shopping for your plush-covered Valentine needs, why not pick up a bit of music to set the mood while you’re at it? There’s nothing to set the mood for a romantic Valentine’s evening like a little bit of death metal.
After that, you can settle in for a nice Valentine’s Day double feature, starting off with Le Divorce (which, according to the summary on Wikipedia, eventually turns into Le Murder, which always makes for a great romantic evening.) You might want to keep an extra dozen roses and/or a lawyer stashed away, just in case she gets any ideas.
If you’re looking for something a little less idea-inducing for your sweetheart, apparently you can’t go wrong with cute looking frogs. I’m not sure if it had something to do with that whole frog prince fairy tale or what, but I’ve noticed that lately frogs seem to be all over the place when it comes to Valentine’s Day merchandise. If I recall my old fairy tales correctly, it was the princess who had to kiss the frog to turn him into a prince, not the other way around… So how the heck did we end up with guys kissing frogs? I’m reasonably certain that there aren’t any frogs out there that are going to magically turn into princesses when kissed (or at least I haven’t gotten QUITE desperate enough to actually try it yet anyway.) For now, I think I’ll just let them stick to their own kind…
Um… on second thought, forget I said that. Yes, this thing is animatronic, and no, you don’t want to see it in action. Not that there’s anything (overtly) x-rated going on here , but I’m guessing the store found this in was keeping the thing on the top shelf for a reason. But that’s not even the worst one I found out there this year…
..I’d have to award that particular dubious distinction to the Flirty Flasher. The last time I checked, flashers are very rarely described as being “flirty” or in any other such vaguely endearing terms. Far more often than not the description given of a flasher is much more in line with “arrested and charged with indecent exposure.” I didn’t even think of trying to activate this one (after all, this is a family Blog.)
So there you have it. Now have a happy and safe Valentine’s Day, and be sure to use your better judgment when shopping for your gifts, or you could end up with one of these.