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Best chocolates for special occasions

These treats make ideal holiday and Valentine's Day gifts

Consumer Reports magazine: February 2013

The chocolates in our Ratings are expensive—they cost $26 to $90 per box. And that doesn't include shipping, which can almost double the price of some. (Shipping is often required because you might not find these in stores.) But in many cases you do get something for your money—several of these chocolates are exceptional.

The top-rated brand, tasters said, had appealing shapes and amazing flavors such as cinnamon toast and buttery pecan pie; Another had bold, unusual fillings; and a mint-infused candy froma third company tasted as if the mint leaves were just picked.

No doubt, paying about $3 to $7 per ounce of candy can bust a budget. But there are a few ways to save:

  • Sign up for a company’s newsletter or mailing list. Savings might be 20 percent off your next order (an offer we saw from John and Kira’s) or 10 percent off if you sign up for a mailing list (from Vosges).
  • Check for free shipping. It might apply on orders of more than $99, for instance.
  • Look for specials. Our shopper got an e-mail announcing one company’s weeklong sale of chocolates for $23 per pound.
  • Buy at a walk-in store if possible. Norman Love sells at least some of its products in more than 25 stores in 11 states. Vosges has six boutiques in four states and sells at Neiman Marcus, Whole Foods, and gourmet stores. Christopher Elbow has two boutiques and sells in 13 other stores in eight states.
  • Try less-pricey alternatives in our Ratings.

Also, can chocoholics satisfy a craving with a cheap chocolate hit at the breakfast table? More and more Americans are apparently indulging in that habit, and cereal makers have lined the shelves with chocolate-filled squares, chocolate versions of classics such as Chex, even chocolate-chip oatmeal. Our expert tasters tried 12 products, straight and with milk, to see which taste most chocolatey.

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