I am not a person who despises Valentine’s Day. Yes, I understand it really only exists to boost sales between Christmas and Easter, but I really don’t mind. In fact, barring much of the overtly sexist messaging surrounding it (win her over with stuff, gentlemen!), I sort of like how festive and lovey everything is. What I do not like, however, is February 15th, which has been, traditionally, my most unhealthy day of the year. Damn you, sale Valentine’s Day candy aisle.
At no time would I ever make a blanket statement like “candy is bad.” Because it isn’t. Candy is wonderful and I love it. So let me be clear: Most Valentine’s Day candy is highly-processed, full of all kinds of sweeteners and dyes, and (much like ramen) very, very hard for the human body to digest. It isn’t bad–but a lot of it is bad for you.
Which is why the candy aisle on February 15 is so bad for me. Because while I can resist terrible-for-me candy at full price….my frugality overwhelms me when I am staring down a mountain of half-price Russell Stover chocolate truffle hearts.
The trouble is that, more so than any other holiday, Valentine’s Day is one that has become centered around candy–and one with a very brief window of sales. Which means that drug stores stock as much of the stuff as they possibly can, in hopes that folks will buy it for their sweeties, for their moms, for their kids, and for themselves. But, because most Valentine’s Day candy is pretty inexpensive for stores, there’s always a surplus, which immediately becomes seasonally inappropriate.
Old V-Day merch has to be moved quickly to make room for Easter goodies…which means that all of the heart-shaped boxes and red-wrapped Whitman’s Samplers end up deeply discounted and impossible to resist.
That’s how, year after year, I find myself avoiding my neighborhood drugstores like the plague on February 15. It becomes my version of “Buy Nothing Day,” which is a protest of Black Friday, except I’m more specific: buy no candy. Buy. No. Candy. It does not matter how inexpensive it is. It does not matter how good the sale is. Saving money doesn’t make it any healthier.
This year, though, I found a solution: exposure therapy. Except instead of being taught to be OK with something by being around it, I spent several hours making this photographic monstrosity, which ended with me covered in sticky caramel and purple Peep filling, utterly nauseated by the volume of chocolate debacles sitting on my kitchen table.