SWEET TALK – Express Yourself This Valentine’s Day

January has the ugly nickname of “Break-Up” month due to the sudden crush of calls to divorce lawyers, U-Haul Truck rentals, and drunken texting. And this phenomenon continues on into February. Why? Because unhappy people know they’re going break up, but they don’t want to taint the sentimental holiday season of Thanksgiving through New Year’s with the memory of the ol’ heave-ho, and they also don’t want to have to live through Valentine’s Day and be forced to make some soon-to-be-awkward, soon-to-be-regretted, soon-to-be-mocked proclamation of love.

But people shouldn’t really fret so much over Valentine’s Day, now that such a wide range of personal expression is available these days through the traditional gift of candy. I always enjoy browsing the Valentine’s candy aisles each year and exploring just what exactly the candy companies have seen fit to offer as highly relevant to our personal lives.

A new category that is picking up steam is the “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all” theme. A cardboard heart, mostly empty, but with a small plastic bag of candy inside apparently conveys enough of a sub-verbal romantic message that we can now simply slap a “Kit Kat Crisp Wafers in Milk Chocolate” sticker on it and call it a day.

The best example of the “Say Nothing” candy gift on the shelves this year is Galerie’s Star Wars Darth Vader Valentine tin, available at Wal-Mart for $4. Other than the fact that the tin is shaped like a heart, it mentions nothing about “me and you”. It simply lets you know: Star Wars. 3D. It’s on.

This tin contains a small plastic bag of lollipops from China. The lollipops are either heart-shaped or ball sack-shaped, depending on which way you hold them. Either way, it appears as though the expressive gamut of romantic expression has been covered.

Another related find at Wal-Mart is Galerie’s companion piece, the Dark Vader candy dispenser. This product shaped in the form of a squatty, legless Darth dispenses tiny red and blue balls stored in Darth’s head which drop through his body and roll out of a hole below his feet. This dispenser is a dollar cheaper than the Darth Vader tin, plus it features a sound chip, so choose wisely if you can’t afford both. When you follow Darth’s passionate directive to “Press My Front”, this triggers a bout of his signature creepy heavy breathing while his candy balls roll out to you. This has a nice “obscene phone call” quality to it, which may be all you care to convey to that special someone this year.

This year’s Wal-Mart finds inspired me to share with you some other favorite Valentine’s finds from recent years.

Crush Someone’s Dreams on Valentine’s Day

Do you know somebody who deeply cares for you, but you’re just not feeling the fire below? In 2007, Hershey provided you with the perfect way to set your boundaries with the Kit Kat Best Friend Heart. In case the name alone didn’t send a clear message, the cheerful slogan, “Half for you, half for me!” suggests either a parting of ways or at least a desire to avoid sharing cooties. Of course, if you receive this from your spouse, you should become deeply concerned, as now this slogan would be alluding to California’s community property laws.

Screw Romance on Valentine’s Day

If you’re a guy and you really don’t give a crap about catering to your woman’s womanly fantasies, the perfect gift would have been Palmer’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. Valentine’s tin circa 2005. Dale Jr. is lovingly posed three different ways with the love of his life, his dog, Killer. It’s interesting that Dale would be chosen to endorse a Valentine’s tin when his lack of a public love life has been the subject of much speculation. Whatever the truth is, Dale Jr. at least serves as a symbol to all of us who prefer the company of our pets to many, if not all, human beings.

Give Something Stupid on Valentine’s Day

Alternatively, if you’re the “laugh a minute” type, you could have dragged yourself to the drug store back in 2006 and tossed a Larry the “Git-R-Done” Cable Guy cardboard heart of chocolates into your cart before heading out on your Valentine’s Day date. If you did, surely it was a Valentine’s Day to remember.

And if You’re Really Unsure, Simply Hedge on Valentine’s Day

If you’re semi-interested in the perks that come with commitment, but not quite capable about deeming your relationship “serious”, Palmer’s Toadally Yours! helped convey these complex thoughts. This candy was on the shelves for at least a decade starting from 1999, which tells you that Palmer struck upon a theme that resonated with the American public.

Toadally Yours! seems on the surface to be a jokey, but enthusiastic declaration of love: an exclamation point is part of the name, several hearts adorn the box and the toad gazes lovingly upon the adorably-depicted “Gummy Bug Inside!” Alas, as the fable goes, not everything is what it appears to be, and when one cracks open the hollow chocolate toad, the cute gummy bug is revealed… and it turns out to be… a hideous thing that ought to be killed! Ugh! Discouraging. On top of this, if one reads the fine print on the side of the box, the toad’s level of commitment is now clearly stated: “Let’s share a pad.” Oh. Oh, well. Maybe that will do.

Whatever the case, have fun this Valentine’s Day, and if you’re not in a relationship, still treat yourself to something sweet and be happy in the knowledge that this day will soon be over.

For more candy memories, visit
Darlene Lacey

About Darlene Lacey

Darlene is the author of "Classic Candy: America's Favorite Sweets, 1950-80" and curator of the Candy Wrapper Museum, which is comprised of her personal collection which she began as a teenager in the 70s. The CWM has been featured in numerous TV shows, magazines, newspapers and blogs, and made its art gallery debut in 2010 at the Scion Space's "Palate" show.
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2 Responses to SWEET TALK – Express Yourself This Valentine’s Day

  1. Suzy Rust says:

    I LOVE your “sweet” posts! And I don’t even live in LA!

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