Valentine's Day Food Gifts That Aren't Candy

Contrary to popular belief, not everyone wants to receive a heart-shaped box of chocolates for Valentine's Day. It's not just that it's totally overdone or a cop-out for accidentally forgetting the holiday (we see you, last-minute cash register guy) — some people just don't like chocolate. Furthermore, much of the chocolate sold isn't sustainable and has a massive carbon footprint, per The Washington Post

According to the Royal Examiner, chocolate wasn't even tied to Valentine's Day until 1861, when Richard Cadbury of the chocolate company decided to package confections in little heart-shaped boxes and deck them out with cupids and roses and all that cutesy stuff. After considering this, doesn't it sound a bit more appetizing to deviate from the norm and buy a more personalized and heartfelt food-related gift for your sweetie?

We've sourced some of the most unique and memorable presents for a range of personalities. Just like the five tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami), there's something that should appeal to everyone. Even that bitter person deserves some love too.

How we chose the following products

When it comes to Valentine's Day, presenting someone you care about with the gift of food is always in good taste. That being said, not all foodie gifts are created equal. For this special and heartfelt list, we decided to take only a few overarching elements into consideration, because your final decision will ultimately be up to personal preference. 

While customer reviews came into play for some aspects, our choices weighed heavily on each item's unique features and the humor behind them. Because when it comes to Valentine's Day, you can have all the romantic food and treats you want, but adding a bit of fun never hurt anyone. 

There truly is something for everyone on this list: the fussy Valentine, the hardcore grill master, the bacon-ator, and everyone in between. We hope that you enjoy our selected pieces, and maybe even treat yourself. 

For the Valentine who pickles everything

Sweet, sour, spicy, or dill, pickles come in various flavors to please just about everyone. For those of you on a quest to find the best Valentine's Day gift for a fermented-food-loving friend, Grillo's Pickles has your order waiting for pickup ... in the form of a DIY pickle bouquet. Yes, you read that correctly. 

The bouquet doesn't actually come with pickles (because that could get messy and foul real fast), but it does include a voucher for a free jar of Grillo's pickles to use at your local grocery store. This will supply you with all the pickles you need to construct the bouquet yourself. You'll also get a branded Grilllo's pickle vase, 15 skewers, a card, cardholder, tissue paper, filler, and some awesome faux floral arrangements to add a bit of color. It's a pretty dill-ightful idea when you think about it.

Even if you're not really into the fine art of pickle arrangement, you might want to make an exception here. This is a pickle bouquet, after all. It ain't no big dill when it comes to visual appeal, but it's the thought that counts.

Keep your eyes peeled on Grillo's website to order a pickle bouquet while supplies last.

For the Valentine who loves bacon

Sending a bouquet of roses to your sweetheart is a quintessentially romantic thing to do for Valentine's Day. It's a reliable option when it comes to gestures of the heart. If you know you can count on roses to win over your favorite person, then why not up your game and send them a bouquet of bacon roses instead? 

Most people love bacon, and best of all, these roses won't die after a week. In fact, a bouquet of bacon roses probably won't even last that long because they're so darn tantalizing. Not only do they look beautiful, but they also smell and taste absolutely divine. Can you say the same thing about roses? Probably not.

Each bacon rosette is constructed with specially selected bacon from North Texas. They're handcrafted with love and come in three different flavors: original, candied, or dipped in chocolate. When you read the inspirational story behind bacon bouquets (per The Dallas Morning News), you won't help but feel just a wee bit more sentimental.

If you're looking to impress with a thoughtful and porcine gift, you can purchase bacon roses from Bacon Bouquets, starting at $45 for a half dozen, as of January 2023.

For the Valentine who's macho but actually a big softy

Even the manliest of men can appreciate a package of conversation hearts. If that box happens to contain hearts that are made from dried meat, then that's all the better. Brought to you by the Manly Man Company, Meathearts are a beef-infused riff on the Valentine's Day candy staple, made with high-quality beef jerky. Each heart-shaped piece of beef jerky comes with a different romantically themed phrase laser-etched into it: Meat Me, XOXO, You + Me, Love, Kiss Me, and, and Beef Mine.

If a small pouch of meaty conversation hearts doesn't sound like a complete gift, don't forget that it's always nice to include a personalized card. Luckily, you can purchase a customizable (and also edible) 4 by 9-inch Meat Card from the Manly Man Company, too.

If you're a stickler for Valentine's Day traditions but want to put a meaty spin on the holiday, you can purchase Manly Man Company's Meathearts for $24.50 and a Meat Card for $23.50, as of January 2023.

For the Valentine who loves a good laugh

Some people think heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are generic and boring. So wouldn't it be fantastic to surprise your boo-boo with a seemingly mundane heart-shaped box ... of beef jerky? (Note that this works best if your SO has a good sense of humor.)

From the company that specializes in gifts for bros (and not only bros), Man Crates brings you its seasonal Valentine's Day sensation: Jerky Hearts. While some people complain that there isn't much beef in the packets, most individuals enjoy the heart-shaped tasting platter of jerky bites. Unless otherwise noted, there are 10 different flavors included in each box: classic, honey bourbon, sesame ginger, ghost pepper, black pepper, root beer, whiskey maple, habanero, garlic, and root beer habanero.

If your beau is all about the flavor (and you won't get upset if they don't share the bite-sized bits of meaty goodness), purchase Man Crates' Jerky Heart box on Amazon starting at $29.99, as of January 2023.

For the Valentine who loves crystals

We all know someone who has an affinity for sparkly shiny things, and if that individual happens to be your love interest or bestie, then it's time to shower them with a Love Bomb Confession Box. Inspired by the connection between sweets and comfort, Japanese-based company Misaky has created a box that will shine brilliantly on your taste buds. 

Each Love Bomb box contains six hand-crafted vegan and gluten-free edible crystals that can only be described as bringing positive vibrations to anyone who noshes on one. With unique flavors like hibiscus and elderflower, passion fruit and dragon fruit, and yuzu with yuzu peel, these simultaneously crunchy and chewy gems deserve to be shared (and admired).

You can purchase a Love Bomb Confession Box directly from the Misaky.Tokyo website for $45, as of January 2023. Your edible crystals are made to order and will ship directly from California.

For the Valentine who is a bit complex

If someone who is a bit scrupulous about their Valentine's Day gift tastes and desires has caught your eye (and bacon roses won't cut it), then you're going to want to find something that's deep, dark, and somewhat mysterious. Kosterina's dark chocolate balsamic vinegar can only be described as a chocolate syrup for adults. It's rich and velvety and works well baked into sweet treats or drizzled over vanilla ice cream. 

If you really want to get into the Valentine's Day mood, you can drizzle it over fruit, like cherries, strawberries, peaches, and figs. One of the best parts about Kosterina's dark chocolate balsamic is that it's perfectly balanced and neither overwhelmingly chocolatey nor too acidic. This might perplex your friend with special tastes, which is a good way to keep them intrigued.

While this is a perfect gift for anyone with a sophisticated palate, any Valentine would probably be thrilled if you showed up with a bottle of dark chocolate balsamic vinegar, fruit, and a carton of vanilla ice cream. Order it from Kosterina's website starting at $20.99 for a 12.7-ounce bottle, as of January 2023.

For the Valentine who likes it spicy

Some like it hot, some like it really hot, and then there are those few individuals who appreciate the feeling of having their faces melt off. If you're seeking out a Valentine's Day gift for someone of that caliber, then look no further than Hot One's hot sauce 10-pack. This case of gourmet hot sauces is based on Season 17 of the YouTube series "Hot Ones" and features everything a person would want to recreate some of the most scorching hot wings known to man. 

It's beautifully packaged and the sauces come with a little information card that gives the backstory of each bottle of burning love. There's also information about the relative spice level because there's a big difference between a Yellow Brain Strain and an Apollo pepper.

If the spice is what's right, and you're looking to give your hunka-hunka something that will get their blood boiling and pulse racing (in all the right ways, of course), order a Hot Ones hot sauce 10-pack on Amazon starting at $129.95, as of January 2023.

For the Valentine who believes in being wined and dined

For Valentine's Day, it's typical to take your love out to a nice dinner. If that's not really your thing, then you'll have to bring the fine dining to your humble abode. And might we say that you'll surely win them over with this two-pack of Brie en croûte, a baked round of Brie cheese (minus the rind) wrapped in a delicate, yet crispy pastry puff. 

You have your choice of six different flavorful fillings: cranberry, pecan, and brown sugar; blue cheese, bacon, scallion, and garlic; apricot and toasted almonds; mushroom, garlic, and scallion; artichoke, jalapeño, and garlic; or garlic, basil, and pine nut. Each round is topped with a puff pastry heart because it is Valentine's Day after all. The final result can only be described as delicious. Each round serves two to four people, so you might want to team up with a buddy and make it a double date.

If you're all about the Brie and want to woo your Valentine over a nice baked round of cheese, order your Valentine's Day baked Brie 2-pack from Gold Belly with free shipping for $75.95, as of January 2023.

For the Valentine who needs coffee before conversation

If you know that your SO refuses to engage in even a mumble before they have their morning coffee, chances are they wouldn't be disappointed to find a bag of Valentine-inspired brew waiting for them by the coffee maker. Brought to you by the Flavor Gods, this naturally flavored coffee uses single-origin beans with a medium roast profile paired with the essence of sweet strawberries and cream.

As soon as you cut open the bag, there's no questioning that you're about to enjoy a cup of sweet cream and berry decadence. Amazon customers report that the strawberry flavor is notable but not overpowering and lingers on your tongue in a good way. This strawberry and cream coffee tastes amazing with or without added dairy.

If you're up for treating your beau to a cup of sensationally delicious java, you can buy a bag of Flavor God strawberries and cream coffee beans on Amazon for $16.99, as of January 2023.

For the Valentine who believes food is love

If you can expect a freshly prepared gourmet meal waiting for you whenever you visit your beloved's home, then what better way to show your affection than with a heart-shaped pakkawood spoon? Pakkawood, also known as colorwood or diamondwood, is a composite of wood and food-grade resin that creates an incredibly resilient material, per Santoku Knives. It's durable, water resistant, and won't scratch your cookware. (Something that any cooking aficionado will appreciate.)

You can't go wrong with a beautifully crafted pakkawood spoon, especially when it's in the shape of a heart and colored using food-grade dyes. It has a nice weight to it and it's well-crafted with a smooth finish. Take note that it's not advisable to put the spoon in the dishwasher (but most attentive cooks wouldn't dare do that, anyways).

If you want to watch someone literally stir love into their food, then head to Amazon, where you can find this adorable rainbow pakkawood heart spoon for $14.99, as of January 2023.

For the Valentine who's true love is grilling

When decadent coffee, edible crystals, or meaty conversation hearts won't cut it, it's time to focus on where your Valentine's heart truly lies. If rain or shine, they're outside spending more quality time with their barbecue than with you, this meat rub gift set trio by Rub With Love might momentarily sway them away from their grill station. The man behind the rub, award-winning chef Tom Douglas, created this smoky set with the discerning grill master in mind.

Rub With Love's gift set is designed for the best three proteins: a smoky dry rub for salmon, a versatile and flavorful rub for steak, and a fragrant blend of spices for chicken, seafood, and other poultry. Take note of the salmon seasoning though, because one satisfied customer touts it as "the real MVP." As an added bonus, you'll get to reap the benefits of your tasty gift too.

If you'd like to peel your partner away from their grill tending so that they can enjoy a little token of your Valentine's appreciation, you can find Rub With Love's gift set on Amazon.

For the Valentine who appreciates breakfast in bed

Nothing shows how much you care like making someone breakfast in bed, especially if it's got a Valentine's Day theme incorporated into it. That's why this heart-shaped frying pan by Ecolution is the perfect gift for people who live for a Sunday morning pampering. This little 6-inch frying pan comes in one color — Valentine's Day red — and it also has a silicone grip to prevent you from burning your mitts. 

The lightweight pan is cast out of aluminum to ensure even cooking throughout, and coated with hydrolon, which CNet explains is a water-based nonstick coating that doesn't leech chemical emissions into the air (and into your food). It's great for frying up heart-shaped pancakes, eggs, and even French toast (though flipping pancakes and eggs could require some skill).

If you're ready to whip up an adorable breakfast in bed for your Valentine's sweetie, then swing on over to Amazon and swoop up Ecolution's heart-shaped frying pan starting at $12.75, as of January 2023.