The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

February 13, 2012

Valentine’s Day Kitsch Roundup 2012: If You Love Them, Leave it on the Shelf

Filed under: Holidays — Brian Lutz @ 9:26 pm

Curses, foiled again.

For nearly as long as I’ve been writing this Blog now, I’ve been doing these Valentine’s Day Kitsch Roundup posts.  They’re actually one of my favorite posts to write each year, owing mostly to the fact that far more than any other holiday, Valentine’s Day seems to inspire an endless stream of ill-advised merchandise that no sane person would give to any potential mate who they would wish to remain so after February 15th.  I’ve done a number of these posts for the other big overmerchandised holidays, but after a year or two of making fun of  Easter merchandise, you begin to realize that there just isn’t much change from year to year in that department.  In fact, aside from possibly Christmas and Halloween, Valentine’s Day seems to be the holiday with the largest quantity of merchandise created and sold specifically for it in any given year.  And a staggeringly large portion of that merchandise seems to be surprisingly ill-advised when you start getting into it…

This year, Valentine’s Day does seem to come with some minor complications for me, mostly in terms of the fact that I no longer have the luxury of just snarking at it for a few thousand words and then ignoring the rest like I usually do.  Somehow, through a set of circumstances that I have yet to fully comprehend, I find myself in the position of needing to not merely acknowledge the existence of Valentine’s Day this year, but to actively participate in the holiday, most likely in the presence of an actual lady (long story, I’m sure I’ll tell it at some point, but I’m saving that one for later.)  I suppose that relationships are one of those things that you have to mostly figure out as you go along, with plenty of opportunities to mess up along the way.  It seems to be best not to do too much messing up, since from what I’ve seen flowers tend to get a tad expensive after a while, and you start needing more and more of them as you go along.  I’ve also found that there’s an awful lot of advice on dating and relationships to be found out there, and most of it is completely and totally useless.  As I’ve noted before, I don’t think I’ve really had much reason to pay any attention to Valentine’s Day since, oh, somewhere around fourth or fifth grade, so what this means is that I’ve got a lot to learn here, and I’ve got to learn it in a hurry if I don’t want to find myself sleeping on the couch (which, given the fact I’m the only one who lives here, would mean that I messed something up pretty seriously.) 

Given the risk/reward factors involved here I’ll be happy if I can make it through the holiday without making any potentially life-ruining mistakes, but if nothing else, at least I’ve got a decent amount of experience in the “what not to do” category.  Not that it isn’t the type of thing that any reasonably sane person can figure out with minimal brainpower, but I guess we all have to start somewhere, right?  Anyway, without further ado, the 2012 Sledgehammer Valentine’s Day Kitsch Roundup, found after the jump.

Previous  Valentine’s Day Kitsch Roundups:

As usual, the vast majority of the shelf space seems to be filled mostly with various forms of heart-shaped boxes in all sorts of different shapes (not really,) sizes and colors.  Of course, most of the stuff out there this year is basically the same stuff you’ve been seeing for a while, but every so often something new appears.  This one, for example, doubles as a handy little chalkboard, perfect for those times when you…  Um…  Actually, I’m not really sure what you’re supposed to do with one of these.  Play a really romantic game of tic-tac-toe perhaps?

I’ve noted in previous Valentine’s Day Kitsch roundups that Spongebob Squarepants has been a staple of Valentine’s Day merchandise for years now.  I’ve also noted that quite a lot of  the Spongebob Valentine’s merchandise out there ranges from vaguely creepy to out-and-out nightmare fuel.  I’m pretty sure this one is leaning pretty heavily toward the latter end of that scale.  In fact, this seems like the type of thing teenagers would be encouraged to give as Valentine’s presents in an abstinence education class.  Or possibly as a recruiting tool for convents…

Over the years, there’s also been a bit of a trend toward a small but growing selection of cynical Valentine’s Day merchandise, presumably reserved for the people who are just plain sick of the whole love thing, but don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to chow down on chocolate-based substances of dubious validity. 

Then again, if you’re looking for a little more direct approach to the problem, there’s always this.  It even comes with a handy mallet for exacting whatever vengeance happens to be called for in the situation, although I suspect some recipients might just go straight for the power tools.  Or the high explosives, if they happened to have any left over from the Fourth of July.

Then again, if you’re intending to head for the Dark Side, why not just head straight for the dark side?  Of course, these ones contain milk chocolate, which kind of ruins the whole effect. 

In fact, there seems to be a whole category of Star Wars-themed Valentine’s Day merchandise that’s kind of developed over the past few years (previous Kitsch Roundups have highlighted various items, but this year the quantity seems to have increased dramatically.)  In theory this would probably be a good thing, if not for the fact that most people who would theoretically be interested in Star Wars themed Valentine’s Day merchandise seem to fall firmly into the “would you people stop giving George Lucas money already?” camp.  Of particular note are the Star Wars themed M&M dispensers at the top of the display in a show of gratuitous cross-marketing.  Next year, they’ll probably be Lego Star Wars themed M&M dispensers, just to make it even more gratuitous.

If you do happen to find yourself shopping for a male of the species on Valentine’s Day, chances are the big fluffy box of chocolates or comically oversized stuffed animals might not be the best way to go.  Don’t worry, that still leaves plenty of other overdone stereotypes to beat to death.

Speaking of stuff that’s been done to death, I’ve never quite understood the appeal of this one.  Sure, a bed strewn with rose petals sounds romantic, but by the time you’re done with whatever romantic activities happen to be planned for the evening, you’ve got a bunch of dead and soon-to-be-decaying plant matter strewn about the place, and there’s a good chance the things are going to get in the way somewhere during the evening’s festivities anyway.  There’s also the option of fake ones, which don’t decay. but they do tend to keep showing up in inconvenient locations for about six months afterward.

Stuffed animals remain a popular Valentine’s Day item, although it seems that lately a lot of the more obnoxious animatronics have fallen by the wayside (big shock there.)  These two better hope that their relationship is more than the usual puppy love, because they’re sewn together pretty tightly, and probably aren’t going to be much fun to be around if things start going south.

As usual, the combination of cheap stuffed animals and cheap candy makes for the most lukewarm of Valentine’s Day gifts.  This one doesn’t even bother trying to hide the fact that the chocolate is fake, presumably due to some obscure legal obligation.  Or the result of some lawsuit, pending appeal.

On second thought, perhaps you aren’t quite ready for the level of commitment that fake chocolate and stuffed animals would constitute, so in that case you might want to just stick to a card.  Naturally there are hundreds of different choices, suited to just about every situation you can think of.  Some of these get a tad…  well…  specific. 

When was the last time anyone thought to get the baby anything (besides possibly an unaccountably cute pink onesie with hearts all over it) for Valentine’s Day?  Not that they’ll remember any of this of course; presumably these cards are meant primarily to be found in a pile of papers ten years down the road and briefly reflected upon before being tossed back in the pile.  If, on the other hand, anyone finds it necessary to send a Valentine’s Day card to someone else’s baby, well that’s vaguely creepy.

Then again it could be worse.  You could be getting a Valentine’s Day card from the dog.  Or more likely someone doing a rather unconvincing impersonation of the dog, but that’s beside the point.

And finally, there are those times when you just want to recognize that special someone who keeps barging into your monolithic evil hideout and destroying all your various something-or-other-inators, and they’ve even got that one covered.  Incidentally, as somewhat of a fan of Phineas and Ferb, I’ve got to say that this one’s actually pretty cool.  Just don’t let Candace see it…

In the category of kids Valentine’s Day cards, there isn’t really anything all that exciting to report this year.  Then again, thanks to the vagaries of the Internet and its effects on pop culture, I suspect there’s going to be a suspiciously large number of 18-35 males buying these ones (long story…)  Remember, if anyone asks, they’re for your little sister.

These, on the other hand…  Well, I don’t know what your excuse is going to be.  And we’d prefer that you not share any of the details, OK?

For years now, these little candy hearts have been a staple of Valentine’s Day.  It’s unsurprising that they’d end up in other forms, like these mini erasers.  I wouldn’t recommend trying to eat these, they might be a bit too chewy for your liking.

Because it just wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day (or any other holiday for that matter) without all kinds of random blinking LEDs, they’ve got you covered on that one.  Let it not be said that your Valentine didn’t have the opportunity to drink from a fully licensed pink blinking cup on their special day.

If you still haven’t found that special someone to share your Valentine’s Day with, there are solutions for that too, complete with even more gratuitous blinking LEDs.  Incidentally, these didn’t seem to change color for some odd reason, maybe I just wasn’t being appropriately attractive at the time or something.

And finally, if none of that other stuff worked out for you and you find yourself spending Valentine’s Day on your own, you can always just stick to plan B.  Or for some people, plan A.  Anyway, have a happy and safe Valentine’s Day, and be careful out there.  After all, Love may keep us together, but it won’t necessarily keep you from sleeping on the couch…

1 Comment »

  1. There was one thing that I find funny that you didn’t mention. In the picture of the valentines card from the dog, just above the card the “Somone Special” cards are priced at 2 for $4. Just in case you are still playing the field and shopping for value at the same time.

    Comment by Jared — February 14, 2012 @ 7:50 am

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