Capitalizing on the Commodification of Valentine’s Day Love

I’m looking at you, Valentine’s Day sale candy

display+of+valentine%27s+day+chocolate+on+sale

ESMÉ BLEECKER-ADAMS

If chocolate is one of the best parts of your Valentine’s Day, you’ll love the day after, and the half-priced candy that comes with it, even more.

By MADELINE KATZ

In the words of Forrest Gump’s mom, “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Boy, was she right. 

In 2020, we collectively bit into that one piece of chocolate that everyone hopes to avoid in the box. Suspiciously fruity, not quite definable and bitterly disappointing. Fret not, now is the time to right this wrong, at least as far as chocolate is concerned, and rid yourself of that foul lingering taste. 

You may be thinking, ah yes, Valentine’s Day is coming up; I shall satisfy my chocolate cravings on said day. Think again. 

The commercialization of Valentine’s Day is nothing new, with its bounty of red heart-shaped chocolate boxes, even redder roses and romantic restaurant rendezvous. However, adhering to these traditional — not to mention transactional — expressions of love could have devastating consequences for your wallet and, more importantly, your health this year.

We may not be able to entirely change the fact that we live in a capitalist society that commodifies love through the exchange of gifts on Valentine’s Day, but we do have the power to rebel in subtle ways.

Instead, we should celebrate the unsung hero of mid-February that is the day after Valentine’s Day, aka the After Valentine’s Day Chocolate Sale Extravaganza. On this glorious gift of a day, you can indulge in the most luxurious chocolate confections at half the price. The excitement of Feb. 15 calls for a relaxed day at home on the 14th so that you may practice self-care, gather your strength for the journey ahead and kick COVID Cupid to the curb. 

Existing within a media landscape that constantly pushes idealized images of love is challenging. With many of us spending more and more time plugged into social media thanks to the pandemic, it can be easy to get lost in a sea of unrealistic portrayals of love. Many of these beautiful images often contain advertising messages promising that you, too, can stoke the flames of eternal love if you simply buy A, B and C — and the matching set in pink. Oh, and don’t forget to take your partner out to a lavish, grandiose dinner while you’re at it. 

It doesn’t have to be like this.

Love is not money-based, nor is it transactional. An exchange of gifts between partners and friends is great but should not be relegated to a specific day. The day after Valentine’s Day is just as good a day to express your undying love as any other day of the year. Love and affection ought to be rooted in mutual respect and empathy. This means prioritizing the well-being of your partner and the people in your community, and a small chocolate offering would help as well.

In other words, refrain from dining in restaurants this coming Valentine’s Day. While it’s true that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is allowing restaurants to resume indoor dining starting Feb. 14 at 25% capacity, that does not mean everyone should jump at the opportunity. Frankly, it’s 25% too much when new strains of the virus are already lurking in the U.S. 

Many restaurants are offering special to-go meals and desserts to heat things up at home. My personal favorite is the Light My Fire dessert box complete with hand torches to toast dessert goodies. However, at $79, I’m beginning to think my Bic lighter is up for the challenge. 

If you feel inclined to support local businesses, please do so out of the goodness of your heart and not because you feel pressured to spend money in order to prove your love. Bottom line, support restaurants if you have the means to do so, but for many, the hefty price tag can feel overwhelming.

Alternatively, you could have a cozy night in. Put on your favorite rom-com, light some candles and relax until the clock strikes twelve and signals the beginning of Chocolate Sale Day.

stuffed sloth, mug with a heart on it and box of chocolate
ESMÉ BLEECKER-ADAMS

When the big day arrives, you may be asking yourself: How should I proceed? First, head to your nearest CVS or Duane Reade. They always have the best selections. Ignore the bright yellow, overpriced Easter peeps stationed front and center. As far as I’m concerned, spring is a myth and winter is forever. Proceed until you see the furry ears of a teddy bear peeking out from the top shelf. 

Here, you shall find your bounty. Godiva and Lindt are the ones to go for first. Rich, velvety and smooth, they are no ordinary candy. Next, stock up on Hershey’s Kisses, which are the only acceptable type of kisses to indulge in during this year’s holiday season of love.

Once those are secured, move on to the crown jewel of the discount candy search. The beautiful, red, heart-shaped chocolate boxes hold the mysteries of life wrapped in lush chocolate exteriors. Choose wisely and revel in your luck and good fortune at securing the glossy belle of the ball at an affordable price.

Remember, if Galentine’s Day can grow to the level of popularity it now has, so can Discount Chocolate Day. “Parks and Recreation” offered Galentine’s Day as a gal-pal-powered alternative to Valentine’s Day, and now I present the alternative to the alternative of Valentine’s Day: Let’s make Discount Chocolate Day unofficially official.

We may not be able to entirely change the fact that we live in a capitalist society that commodifies love through the exchange of gifts on Valentine’s Day, but we do have the power to rebel in subtle ways. Choose to express love in your own way on your own schedule. Ask not what can you do for capitalism, but what capitalism can do for your sweet tooth on a budget.