'Tis The Season To Lie Around Eating Bonbons

First of all, life is not like a box of chocolates because you never know what you're gonna get. Many boxes of chocolates come with little maps or product lists that you can squint at as you try to determine whether the little swirl on the top of the little square of chocolate you have your eye on is a sign of lemon or maple. There's a guide to the contents of chocolate boxes, is what I'm saying. There are none to life, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

But anyway. Back to chocolate boxes. Valentine's Day is looming over us, one of the major chocolate-box-giving holidays of the year. And since romantic restaurant dinners—particularly fondue—are out this year, as are sexy hotels with heart-shaped beds and in-room hot tubs, chocolate and flowers and Champagne will have to assume a heavier burden than usual. It won't be enough to express your love in the form of a crummy cardboard box from the supermarket. But fortunately, there are lots of chocolatiers around the country who have been working hard to make beautifully airbrushed and delicately flavored and sustainably sourced chocolates just for your beloved (and sure, you, too; learning to love yourself is, as Whitney Houston taught us, the greatest love of all).

After eight months of serious chocolate-tasting, G. Daniela Galarza of The Washington Post has assembled a list of small shops that made delicious assortments, all of which ship nationwide. (What a tough job that must have been!) They range from truffles and bonbons that look too pretty to eat to single-source chocolate bars to a collection made by female chocolatiers in Accra, Ghana, and then shipped to Green Bay, Wisconsin.

I would also like to give a shout-out here to my own personal favorite chocolate shop, Kakao in St. Louis, which makes the very best chocolate bark I have ever eaten, as well as a delicious BBQ rub if your love language is grilled meat. Also, if you are interested in having an educational experience with your beloved while you feed each other bonbons, Ethel M chocolates is offering a special virtual tastings for not just Valentine's Day but also Galentine's Day, in which you learn how chocolate is made and how to get the most out of your truffle.