Once again, Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and with it comes the usual shelves full of random merchandise to help you to celebrate the season in what the world’s various marketing departments and greeting card manufacturers have deemed to be an acceptable manner. Whether you’re wading through the obligatory pile of Vaguely Valentine themed cards that get passed out to everyone in your kid’s third grade class, trying to navigate an awkward teenage crush, looking to win the heart of the one you’re convinced you’ll be spending the rest of your life with, or just trying to keep them around, there’s no shortage of ways to express whatever sentiment happens to be appropriate for the situation at hand. Naturally, some ways are better than others. And naturally, some ways are not particularly advisable for anyone really. It’s the stuff in the latter category that holds the most interest to me, mostly because with some of these items the whole “Who in their right mind thought THIS was a good idea?” factor of some of this stuff is off the chart.
This marks the sixth year that I have done the Valentine’s Day Kitsch Roundup on this Blog, and it remains one of my favorite posts to write each year. Shockingly, there seems to be a lot less of the truly egregious examples of bad taste that have characterized the Kitsch Roundup than there have been in previous years (looking back at the earlier posts, I think the 2011 post is going to be pretty tough to top) but that doesn’t necessarily mean that marketers of Valentine’s Day-themed merchandise have had a sudden bout of sanity, just that not quite as many of the usual bad ideas seem to have made it out onto the shelves this year. There also seems to be a number of the more “popular” items from previous Kitsch Roundups that continue to show up on the shelves for some odd reason. As usual, this is not intended to be a gift guide of any sort; quite the opposite in fact. I make the assumption that most people reading this Blog will have enough common sense to realize this, but these days you never know. Either way, you’ve been properly warned.
Anyway, without further ado, it’s time for another excursion into the dark corners of the seasonal shelves for another look at ill-advised Valentine’s Day merchandise.
Previous Valentine’s Day Kitsch Roundups:
- 2012: If you Love Them, Leave it on the Shelf
- 2011: Love Isn’t as Blind as You Think
- 2010: All’s Fair in Love and Merchandising
- 2009: More Great Ways to Spend Your Valentine’s Night Sleeping on the Couch
- 2008: The Original Valentine’s Day Kitsch Roundup
As usual, the traditional box of heart-shaped chocolates occupies the vast majority of the seasonal shelves in most locations. For the most part, the choices this year are surprisingly reasonable (as long as you conveniently ignore the nutritional labels at least) although the designs to seem to be based primarily on wallpaper styles that were last seen in 2005.
To be honest, I’m kind of surprised nobody thought of this one sooner. The now standard-issue conversation hearts get turned into a heart-shaped box full of chocolates… Which kind of doesn’t make much sense if you think about it. Shouldn’t you be filling those with conversation hearts? I wouldn’t be surprised if next year the New England Candy Company makes a box shaped like a heart-shaped piece of chocolate, and fills it with conversation hearts instead.
And in the “Heart-Shaped Box of Chocolates Most Likely to Get You Sued by Facebook” category, we have this.
Or perhaps if you’re looking to do a bit more than social networking on your chocolates, this box comes with a comprehensive suite of applications, none of which appear to actually do anything. Then again, if she doesn’t like this one, maybe she just didn’t meet the system requirements.
Given the fact that they’ve now run out of books in the Twilight Saga to turn into movies, I suspect this year will probably be the end of the line for Twilight-themed Valentine’s Day merchandise. For the males of the species who have spent the better part of the last decade competing with the unrealistic expectations that Edward Cullen and Jacob Black have set for us, this probably can’t come soon enough. In the meantime, giving a heart-shaped box with chains attached to it and vampires and werewolves on the front is probably sending the wrong message. I’m not quite sure what that message is, but I’m pretty certain it’s the wrong one.
And speaking of things that just might be sending the wrong message…
And then of course, for those who prefer to express their love in bulk, there’s the ever-popular giant boxes of chocolates. I believe I’ve covered these before (short version: You do NOT want to read the nutrition label) but just this year I notice they’ve started applying the “Handcrafted in small batches” label to these. The question is, just how many of those small batches did they have to cram into that giant box anyway?
This one, ostensibly meant as a gift for men, seemed like a great idea at the time. At least until he started complaining that the mute button didn’t seem to be working…
If nothing else seems to work, golf and coffee seems to be a popular combination. Or not. Somehow, this just seems like a really nasty spill waiting to happen.
If golf isn’t his thing, why not try fishing? I’d check for hooks before eating any of that stuff though…
Then again, suppose if you’re shopping for Valentine’s Day gifts for the man in your life, you could always just skip all the dubious candy-like substances and just cut right to the chase.
But why bother with all the pesky dating and courtship when you can just grow a boyfriend yourself? Just add water and… Well, he’s still going to be pretty small. But at least he won’t talk back, right?
In the category of noncommittal classroom-appropriate cards, there isn’t a whole lot to report this year. As you might suspect, Justin Bieber seems to be the flavor-of-the-month right now, but I can’t think of any situation where you’d actually need that many Justin Bieber-themed valentines. Unless you have a class with something like 75 people in it or something like that.
If you’re looking for the fancier cards, you should be able to find something that will make your Valentine’s head spin. Please note that if your Valentine happens to be Linda Blair, this is probably not a good thing.
And this… Well, I’m not quite sure what situation this would be appropriate for. At least he’s wearing boxer shorts, I’m not sure anyone wants to see what’s under there.
Somewhere along the line, it looks like various primates have managed to find their way into the standard litany of Valentine’s Day-themed stuffed animals. As usual, most of them seem to be pretty conventional these days, but I’m not quite sure what happened with this guy. I’m sure there’s a perfectly logical explanation for whatever happened to his eye, but I’m sure it’s a longer story than I’ve got time for right now.
And somehow, I suspect that it’s this guy’s fault.
And this one, I haven’t got any idea what’s going on wi- Yes master. I am under your control. I will do your bidding and… Wait a minute, was I just doing something? Oh well, forget it.
As usual, there’s plenty of options in the freakishly large stuffed animal department as well. For those times when your love simply won’t fit on the shelf. One of these days, just for the irony of it all they should get someone to make a really giant stuffed Chihuahua and sell it. I suppose they already do freakishly large frogs, so why not other ones?
Over the years, the chocolate-scented bears had developed a unique adaptation that somehow endeared them to unwitting human hosts, thus allowing them to spread through a rather wide ecological niche. Unfortunately, this also made them rather prone to being devoured in cases of mistaken identity, thus limiting the growth of the subspecies, and ultimately dooming them to obscurity.
After taking a year or two off, it seems that obnoxious animatronics have begun to make a comeback this year.
All the usual vaguely romantic-looking animals are featured as usual, but this one seems to have come straight out of left field. Bears are obvious, gorillas I can kind of understand, but… lobsters? About the only place I can think of where a lobster might be romantic would be on the dinner plate. And by the time lobsters make it there, they’re rarely in any condition to do much singing.
If you’re looking to put together a romantic Valentine’s evening with you and your chosen partner (assuming he/she is on board with the whole thing, which might be in question if you’ve gone with any of the stuff above) there’s plenty of ways to do it. I’ve never quite understood what’s supposed to be so great about these things (if I understand the process correctly, they’re supposed to come off pretty quickly anyway,) but apparently you’re supposed to have them for some reason.
These, on the other hand, I’m not quite sure what you’re supposed to be using them for. I suppose in some odd fashion it falls into the same category as wearing a sports jersey to the ballpark or something like that, but there aren’t a whole lot of other occasions I can think of when any man in their right mind would wear something like this.
Then again, sometimes you might just need that extra special something to complete your whole ensemble. If you really want to impress the ladies, why not try some of this stuff? Sure you’ll probably end up looking like you got run over by a wayward circus train in a dark alley somewhere, but I’m he or she will appreciate the effort.
But if you’ve managed to conveniently ignore all that, why not set the mood with a candle full of candy hearts? Somehow I suspect those things aren’t going to smell quite the way you might imagine when one of them catches on fire…
And finally, once you’ve set the mood with candles, it’s time for a little serenade, aided by this Barry-okee voice-changing microphone that, if you believe what it says on the packaging, will make you so romantic that you’ll probably have ladies crawling in through the window from three blocks away. Naturally, this might make things just a bit awkward, and you might find yourself with some explaining to do.
Anyway, however you choose to celebrate, have a happy Valentine’s Day, and try not to end up on the couch, OK?