Walk through any of the village supermarkets and you’ll be quickly reminded that Valentine’s Day is coming up soon. Red hearts decorate greeting cards in the racks and heart-shaped balloons float near checkout counters.
The best deals depend on what you’re looking for. A pricey, heart-shaped candle at could rest on the ledge of a romantic bubble bath for two. And there is a long romantic tradition behind those heart-shaped boxes of candy at .
Stop & Shop, with some reasonably prices boxes of kid cards, is the best spot if your children participate in card exchanges at school.
For grownups, there are racks of valentines filled with poetry, good and bad, as well as humorous messages for those who prefer to take the holiday more lightly. But a valentine of any kind signals romance and many couples tie the knot on St. Valentine’s Day.
The day is believed to have been named for a Christian martyr, but it was English poet/author Geoffrey Chaucer who chose Saint Valentine as a patron for marriage, mentioning it in a love poem to celebrate the courtship of Richard II and Anne of Bohemia back in the 14th Century.
Cards, candy and red roses came along later. Today, we exchange about a billion valentine cards a year, putting it next to Christmas, the top ranking time for card sales.
If you go by the Valentine’s Day offerings at Stop & Shop and , you’ll think stuffed animals have been added to the list of traditional gifts. Stop & Shop has baskets stuffed with large Teddy Bears and Elmer’s chocolates.
Elmer’s is a 156-year-old New Orleans firm which bills itself as the nation’s second largest heart box manufacturer. I suspect Whitman’s, which is even older than Elmer’s, ranks first in heart boxes. Hershey is a johnny-come-lately at only 135 years, but there are a lot of kisses exchanged on Valentine’s Day.
King’s had some small, silvery unicorns–the perfect gift for someone who fancies the fanciful creatures. But at $7.99, I thought they were overpriced.
All three stores had better deals on roses than you’ll find anywhere else this time of year. (Popular floral web sites were charging up to $80 for a dozen red roses, and that’s without the delivery charge.) Whole Foods has their usual “Whole Trade” roses for $12.99 a dozen, along with tons of tulips at $6.99 for 10 stems. Tulips are nice but, to me, they signal spring, not grand passion. (Of course, spring would be very welcome about now.)
Stop & Shop had a weekly special–10 roses for $7.99 and King’s had some nice looking bunches at $9.99.
Orchids are another option. There’s something both exotic and romantic about them. But the best thing about an orchid plant is that it will bloom for months. And every time you look at it, you remember a special Valentine’s Day. I got one last year that lasted for five months and is even now sending up a new spire of blossoms.
Both Whole Foods and Stop & Shop have orchids on sale for $19.99, but the offerings at Whole Foods are bigger and more romantic. King’s has some nice large ones on sale for $24.99–the same price they were last year—so Whole Foods is offering the better bargain.
Stop & Shop has the biggest selection of traditional candy boxes, including both Elmer’s and Whitmans, while Whole Foods offers some higher end items made in Connecticut. King’s has the best selection of heart-shaped cookies if you’re having a party or on the hook for school treats.
But whatever you need, it might be wise to shop early. When I was last there, Stop & Shop was already making way for Easter Eggs on the Valentine’s Day shelves. So hurry up, lovebirds.