Unconventional Valentine’s Gifts They’ll ♥ A Lot

By Heather Mayer

Styling and Photography by Laurie Mosco

Love is in the air! Cupid’s packing his arrows and retailers are stocking their shelves to hit the mark this Valentine’s Day. Even with last year’s challenges, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reported Americans spent $21.8 billion on Valentine’s Day in 2021. While chocolate and candy might make up 54% of gift plans (NRF), competitor analysis company, Competitor Monitor reports “staying in” and “creating an experience” are emerging trends for Valentine’s gifts.  Time to think outside the (chocolate) box with exceptional food experiences.

Our expert food matchmakers offer advice sure to get customers’ hearts all aflutter.

Love them a Latte

unconventional Valentine's day gifts, gifts for coffee lovers, coffee gifts, illy coffee, ghirardelli syrup, expresso malt balls, stroopwafels, love you a latte
Love Them a Latte

Meeting for a cup of coffee is the quintessential first date. Some customers are opting to sip and snuggle at home. Get things percolating with gourmet coffee, coffee-flavored products, and add-ins any barista would be envious of. Transport them to a quaint, intimate Italian café with illy Ground Classico Medium Roast Coffee. Lay it on thick with rich, premium chocolate and salted caramel syrups from expert chocolatier Ghirardelli. Warm their hearts with authentic Dutch Daelemans Caramel Stroopwafels warming on the top of their cups.

Chocolate and coffee make a great pair. Let them “espress”o their love for both iconic flavors with Nassau Candy Dark Chocolate Espresso Malt Balls. Kopper’s Dark Chocolate Espresso Beans will “mocha” them crazy.

Endless Pasta-bilities for Love

Romantic dinner, pasta dinner at home, Valentine's day dinner, unconventional Valentine's day gifts
Endless Pasta-bilities

If we’ve learned anything from the movie, Lady and the Tramp, pasta is romantic.  AND an easy way to have a gourmet night in to boot!  Help them make the night extra special with premium sauces and pasta.  For extra indulgence with a little kick, offer the luxury and sweet heat of black truffles and chilis found in Truff Black Truffle Arrabbiata Sauce. Go classic, and opt for the homemade taste of Carbone Marinara Sauce. Regardless of what sauce they choose, traditionally-made Garofalo Penne Rigate pasta with its deep ridges will soak up all that rich sauce, and offer an authentic experience.

Eating at home can mimic the restaurant experience. Let’s give them readymade appetizers too!  Cucina & Amore Sun Dried Tomato Bruschetta, paired with crisp, buttery Meliora Traditional Brushchette bread crisps create appetizers in an instant. For an extra flourish, top it with the fresh taste of basil found in Alessi Pesto.

White Hot Love

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Got the Hots for You

The saying ‘I’ve got the hots for you’ takes on new meaning when their passion is hot sauce. Stoke the flames of love by recommending hot sauces that are off the beaten path. Transport them to their college days, full of young love with the tangy, spicy flavors of late-night snack-inspired Wenzel Hot Sauce (invented in New Haven, by a Yalie).  Offer up some international elegance with white truffle laden Sabatino Truffled Hot Sauce,  Italian romance with Calabrian chilies in Casa Firelli Hot Sauce, or bring the heat British style with a classic – Coleman’s Original Mustard.

Sometimes it’s the packaging paired with fiery hot flavors that makes an exceptional Valentine’s gift.  Like the pair of lips prominently presented right on the label of Saucy Lips Jalapeno Green Apple Gourmet Sauce. But, for some, it’s the challenge of extreme heat found in the rare habanero blend of Melinda’s XXXXtra Reserve Hot Sauce. After sampling this hot sauce their mouths will be fiery red so their chips better be blue – Late July Blue Corn Tortilla chips, that is. 

I Give you The World

Unconventional Valentine's Day gifts, gifts for a jet setter, gifts for a traveler, Japanese candy, Ramune soda, Pocky candy
The World is Yours

Ok, so the world might be a little toooo big to gift wrap.  Instead, for those jet-setting sweethearts recommend signature foods from around the globe. Take them on a tour of Japan starting with an edible bouquet of Pocky strawberry and matcha green tea.  These matchstick-thin cream coated biscuits are sure to spark something. The flirtatious fizz of Japan’s Sangaria Ramune Strawberry soda, with a romantic red color will have them raising their glasses.  If they opt to drink from the bottle, they can still hear the “clink” of the marble stopper getting pushed in. It’s like a cheers from a champagne flute!  Round out the Japanese tour with Hi-Chew Strawberry, pillowy clouds of fruit chews that will have them high on those loving feelings. 

Sponsor a European trip, with Italian Perugina Baci Dark Chocolates with hazelnut.  Each piece of this classic chocolate features a whole hazelnut center, wrapped in hazelnut cream and tucked into a dark chocolate shell.  Each chocolate comes wrapped in a little love note.

You’re the Grill of my Dreams

You're the Grill of my dreams, grilling gifts, BBQ gifts, Unconventional Valentine's day gifts, gifts for grilling fan
Grill of my Dreams

For the love that burns low and slow, a selection of barbeque rubs and sauces will make customers THE pit boss when it comes to romance.  Who needs to go out when you can bring home the flavors of renown Mighty Quinn’s BBQ joint with their signature BBQ sauce and spice rub?  For the steakhouse vibe, there’s Sabatino Tartufi Truffled Steak Sauce, made with premium black truffles. Appeal to their sweeter side with Saucy Susan Peach Apricot Sauce, a blend of real peaches, apricots and vinegar for a sweet and tangy marinade, sauce, or dip.  What’s a cookout without the sides? Let’s inject those with barbecue flavor too like Route 11 Mama Zuma’s Revenge Chips and Green Mountain Gringo Cochujan BBQ Salsa.

I’m Bananas for You

I'm bananas for you, banana flavored candy, banana Turkish Taffy,
It’s Bananas

We all know the saying “we’re bananas for you”. We recommend taking it one step further and offering a gift full of banana flavor. If they’re looking to woo an old flame, stir up feelings of nostalgia with old time favorites, Bonomo Banana Turkish Taffy or Nassau Candy Banana Fruit Slices. For a big statement try oversized gummies like Clever Candy Gummy Going Bananas XXL. For that top banana who’s extra special, inject some gourmet elegance with expertly crafted Vosges Super Dark Coconut and Banana Bar, made with Sri Lankan coconut and Hawaiian Banana.  For those who like to mix it up, opting for a dash of red in their mix, there’s Clever Candy Silly Strawberry and Banana Dextrose Candy, a blend of crunchy, tangy strawberry and banana shaped and flavored candies.

Over the Moon for You

I'm over the moon for you, star candy, Astro Pops, Moon Pies, Satellite wafers
A Love that is Out of This World

A stellar way to make sure customers’ sweethearts are moonstruck – give them the moon and the stars via star and moon confections.  Adding a note to old time packages that already have a celestial theme like Moon Pies, Astro Pops and Satellite Wafers makes quite a bold statement. Another presentation that will send their hearts out of orbit is a blend of Madelaine Silver Foiled Milk Chocolate Stars, Clever Candy Assorted Dextrose Starzmania Candy Stars and  Clever Candy Gummy Starfish.

No need to create a shopping list.  We have all our unconventional Valentine’s Day gifts listed

Still need traditional Valentine’s goodies?  We’ve got that!

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