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Our Best (and Worst) Valentine's Day Gift Memories

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We get pretty excited about Valentine's Day here at Food52—I mean, with all the chocolate cake and lovely confections being passed around the test kitchen, how could we not be?!

But at the end of one particularly sweet day (literally, there was so much cake) this week, we started getting sappy. Conversation turned to Valentine's Day gifts of yore: the good, the bad, and the most memorable. These are the romantic gestures that our team just can't seem to forget:

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20 Valentine's Day-Worthy Gifts We'd Give Our Loves (or Ourselves)
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20 Valentine's Day-Worthy Gifts We'd Give Our Loves (or Ourselves)

Meghan M: I'm not sure it's considered a gift, but two weeks after I met my boyfriend, it was Valentine's Day. He invited me over to his apartment and made me Fried Chicken, Hoppin' John, and Collard Greens... It was amazing. We've been together for two years and he's still killing it. Definitely the best "gift" if you can call it one!

Catherine: My worst was once when I flew back home with homemade dark chocolate raspberry pie bars (if you don't know these, you must get to know them) I had baked for this silly boy I thought liked me. Just to have him blow me off on Valentine's Day!

Jackson: After a year and a half of dating, an ex-boyfriend got me an Amazon gift card. We broke up a month later. But last year, my boyfriend Patrick planned a trip to Charleston for us, including wonderful restaurant reservations for the weekend. Truly did not have a bad bite of food while I was there, but definitely recommend Edmund's Oast, Diggity Donuts (vegan donuts! truly amazing!) and Fig (best roasted carrots I've had in my life).

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Cacao Nib, Hazelnut & Pink Peppercorn Dark Chocolate Bars

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Caroline: Maybe not best or worst, but, my very sweet freshman-year-of-high-school boyfriend gave me a heart-shaped drugstore box of chocolates with a small bear attached to it. I was so flustered (and confused about so many things, not least of which was my sexuality) that I thanked him without looking at him, threw it into my locker, and slammed the door. (I'm sorry, 14-year-old boyfriend!)

Olivia: When I walked into my classroom on Valentine's Day in 5th grade, I was greeted with the world's biggest heart-shaped box of chocolates. The card on top was signed "Love, Kenny." Poor Kenny—I was mortified and disgusted and proceeded to pass out all the chocolate and dramatically rip up the card over a trashcan. Karma's a b*tch: I haven't received a Valentine since.

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Erin: (Also in 5th grade!) I had braces on four of my top and four of my bottom teeth. It looked ridiculous and my teacher made a big to-do in front of the class about how I couldn't have sticky candies in my Valentine's box, as she didn't want to deal with a "braces disaster." An hour later, I was leaning back in my chair when I lost my balance. The chair threw me forward and I hit my chin on the desk—HARD. Three of the four bottom braces popped off, and were left dangling from my mouth from the one good piece still attached. I spent the class Valentine's party in the (super creepy) janitor's closet, where he cut the braces out of my mouth with rusty pliers.

More importantly, I couldn't eat sticky candy. This is where my priorities lie.

Meet Kate Coffey, Who Dared to Stick Burnt Toast, Beer & Pretzels in Caramel (with Very Good Results)
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Meet Kate Coffey, Who Dared to Stick Burnt Toast, Beer & Pretzels in Caramel (with Very Good Results)

Megan L: Last year, my boyfriend and I scored reservations at a well-known and highly rated Italian restaurant, where I had an amazing pasta dish with mussels. While I selfishly wanted to keep it all to myself, I reluctantly agreed to share a bite with my boyfriend in the spirit of Valentine's Day. The single mussel I shared was apparently not-so-fresh, and he ended up being hit with extreme food poisoning as soon as we got home. I spent the rest of the night (and the next three days) making trips to Duane Reade for Gatorade and trying to convince him that I didn't purposely poison him. Romance!

Lindsay-Jean Hard: I'm generally happy to skip Valentine's Day, but one year while living in Japan we took a weekend trip to the Japanese Alps that was incredible. It was an adventure getting to our B&B (have you ever put snow chains on your tires before? we had not), but so worth it. We spent the day snowshoeing to a semi-frozen waterfall and were treated to an amazing spread for dinner that night from one of the owners. They had lived in N.Y.C. for 15 years before returning home to Japan and starting their B&B, and the wife told us she had become good friends with 3 chefs—it showed. (And now I wish I had been smart enough to ask which ones.)

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Kaitlin: My worst was in 8th grade when my boyfriend gave me a necklace with a gold & silver baseball hat charm on it. I was not a fan and was pretty unsuccessful at hiding my reaction when I opened it at the lunchroom table in front of everyone. I had to wear it somewhat regularly to save face. Like most middle school relationships, we didn't last beyond the year.

The best was when we were living in Greenpoint and planning on going to the Valentine’s Day Tour of the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, but were too tired after a long day. Instead my boyfriend prepared raw oysters, mussels and fries, and Negronis at home and I contributed ice cream sandwiches. (P.S. I'm still wanting to go on that tour, but it is already sold out this year—who knew water treatment could be so romantic.)

My valentines, dressed up for dinner at home.

A photo posted by @amandahesser on

Amanda H: We've started a tradition where we do a "fancy" dinner at home with our kids. They set the table and help us cook, we dress up for dinner, and then watch a movie or play a game. It's by far my favorite way to celebrate Valentine's Day—a lovely dinner with my lovelies!

Kenzi: For my best, instead of flowers, I once got a tree's worth of juniper branches. And I didn't even hint!

Merrill: I think my best Valentine's Day will be tough to trump: Our second child, Henry, was born a little after midnight on February 14th, 2015. He's a lover, not a fighter.

What are your best and worst Valentine's Day memories? Food related or otherwise, let us know in the comments!

Tags: Too Many Cooks, Valentine's Day