A Gentleman’s Valentine’s Taste Test

Valentine’s Day has come and gone again, but we here at Academic Exiles celebrated accordingly—by watching K-dramas and eating candy. But not just any K-drama and not just any candy. We raided Target for the most interesting, most unique and just plain weird Valentine’s items we could find. Then put on A Gentleman’s Dignity, a show that starts with its four protagonists trying to pick up a hot widow and her friends at a funeral. Romance!

We’ve compiled our thoughts on the items, and even created a handy rating system based on the characters from A Gentleman’s Dignity.

Our Cast of Characters/Rating System

AGD - Do Jin
Do Jin (Jang Dong Gun) (Source)
AGD - Yi Soo
Yi Soo (Kim Ha Neul) (Source)
AgD - Jung Rok
Jung Rok (Lee Jung Hyuk) (Source)
AGD - Tae San
Tae San (Kim Su Ro) (Source)
AGD - Yoon (1)
Yoon (Kim Min Jong) (Source)
AGD - Min Sook
Min Sook (Kim Jung Nan) (Source)
AGD - Se Ra
Se Ra (Yoon Se Ah) (Source)
AGD - Me Ah Ri
Me Ah Ri (Yoon Jin Yi) (Source)


Dong Hyub (Kim Woo Bin) (Source)
AGD - Colin
Colin (Lee Jong Hyun) (Source)



Amanda’s items are in purple, and Stephanie’s are in red.

The V-Day Haul

Star Wars Ceramic Goblet with Conversation Hearts
Okay, yes, I bought this because I wanted a goblet that’s shaped like a stormtrooper. At $10, it was a steal. But it definitely also fits the theme. Someone thought nothing says love quite like filling the giant ceramic head of a space soldier with one of the world’s worst candies. The goblet was great: 10/10. The conversation hearts were chalky garbage. There was a mint one among the few I sampled. Whose bright idea was it to include mint with a bunch of fruit flavors? Blech. This definitely feels like a Colin product. It’s just the cutest, and I don’t regret its appearance in my life. But still, when it comes down to it, the inside is terrible and/or hollow. This is a Valentine’s Day gift that would try to sell your house/apartment in a fit of teenage rebellion.


Superior Chocolate Rose
I figured the chocolate rose would be a Do Jin—a somewhat sexy way of enjoying chocolate but more romantic and mature than what Dong Hyub and Colin can offer in this series. Unfortunately, it quickly turned into a Yoon experience. The chocolate rose immediately fell off the stem, so I couldn’t seductively nibble on it while caressing the green, plastic leaves. Worst of all, I could barely even bite into the chocolate because it was so hard. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t my first chocolate rose. I didn’t expect the smoothest, silkiest of chocolate, but I didn’t expect to almost chip a tooth. It was a sad, sad rose, just like a 41-year-old widower. Superior did not deliver the superior Valentine’s chocolate.

Disney Princess Gummy Bands Candy
Candy jewelry is usually not great. I guess Ring Pops are okay, but you end up slobbering on your hand a little bit when eating them. Gummy bands seem like an especially terrible idea. The individual packaging was fine; it featured the promised Disney princess. Everything took a turn for the worst when I opened it. There was a definite sugar and artificial grape scent. I could barely read the word “Magic,” which was inscribed on the band, and it didn’t fit me. Not a magical experience. Taking a bite, I was surprisingly reminded of some rosé gummies I had eaten recently. The grape flavor was surprisingly mellow considering the smell, and there were some floral notes. I didn’t like it, but it wasn’t the worst thing ever. Still, I’d imagine it would be a nightmare if a kid brought these to school. A bunch of children wearing sticky candy bracelets, getting God knows what on them, then eating them. Shudder. These scream Me Ah Ri. They’re incredibly juvenile even as they try to replicate something relatively more adult.

Red Velvet Kit Kats
As weird as it sounds, I don’t think I’ve ever had a Kit Kat; I had to ask Stephanie what was in them. But the package had cats on it, and that sold me. I could’ve used a bit more red velvet flavor, but I enjoyed the icing around the candy and the crisp. I’m giving this one a Yi Soo: it was pleasant and sweet, but nothing too exciting. More importantly, there were cute cats involved, and she has juvenile lingerie that has kitties on them.


Barefoot Bubbly Pink Moscato Champagne
I picked up the obligatory bottle of sparkling wine from the Valentine’s Day section. Plus, I had a neat new goblet to drink it out of. Listen, it’s Barefoot. It’s cheap, but decent, I guess. I’m not the biggest wine person, but I don’t totally hate this. There isn’t much to say about it. It had less floral notes than the gummy bracelet. It looked great in my stormtrooper goblet. I felt like a middle-aged woman. Happy Valentine’s Day? I’ll give this one a Tae San. Like a middle aged man who’s super into baseball, this isn’t really for me, but this certainly isn’t the worst version out there.

Hershey’s Marshmallow Heart
My heart broke. Maybe it was the rough ride in my trunk, maybe a child smashed it in the store. Whatever the situation, I had a slightly smooshed heart. This wasn’t looking good. Fortunately, the taste test went well. Nothing to get excited about, but the marshmallow was nice and fluffy. In fact, because of this fluffiness, I’m giving this a Dong Hyub rating, because his hair looks very fluffy in the show.

Ghirardelli White Chocolate Crème Brûlée Squares
My lone chocolate entry, and it’s something chocolate snobs would argue isn’t actually chocolate. The packaging had gold hearts so I felt properly wooed. These were probably the best tasting candy I got. The white chocolate was smooth and creamy, and the burnt sugar bits added a nice bit of texture. It’s too sweet to eat much more than one square, but in moderation this is a winner. I’ll give it a Do Jin. It was more sophisticated and romantic than anything else I got (not that that says a lot) and didn’t immediately make me regret eating it. A sweet candy with a little hint of elegance, the kind that will buy you expensive shoes.


Lindt White Chocolate Strawberry Truffles
You can pretty much depend on Lindt to be good, so I’m not sure if it’s really worth including in a ridiculous taste test. But it was the highlight of my Valentine’s chocolate extravaganza, so I’m going for it. First of all, it is very cute. It’s already earning some Dong Hyub and Colin points for it’s adorable strawberry packaging. However, the excitement happens when you open the package. Sometimes white chocolate is a bit too intense for me, but the smooth strawberry center is light and fruity, balancing out the white chocolate. The texture, the flavor—it’s everything I want from my Valentine’s candy. It prompted me to “mmm” in delight, which happens to also be the noise I make whenever I see Kim Woo Bin without a shirt, so Lindt’s truffles earn a high Dong Hyub rating. Good work.

Star Wars Candy Characters, Candy Rolls and 4 Stickers
Target really banked on the idea that people want to celebrate Valentine’s Day with Star Wars products. This purple heart with a blurry picture of Rey is just one of three things we bought, and there was countless other stuff we left at the store. I thought the Rey picture would come off with the plastic wrap, so I was pleasantly surprised when it didn’t. Off to a great start! Everything that was promised on the package was included inside. The good just keeps coming! The candy characters were misshapen Spree knockoffs that I guess were stormtroopers. Not the worst candy I’d eaten in the taste test but not good. The candy rolls were much better. They were somewhere between Smarties and Sweet Tarts in terms of flavor and chalkiness. Unfortunately, there were more of the janky stormtroopers than the candy rolls. The stickers were stickers, and one of them had BB-8 on it, always a plus. I’d say this one is Dong Hyub. Mostly, it’s a treat, but there were some things lacking. It has a heart of gold but maybe, sometimes, tries to mug middle aged men.

Celebrations Assortment of Chocolate
I saw it and had to buy it. It was a plastic champagne bottle full of Snickers, Twix, Dove, Bounty and Milky Way chocolates. What’s not to like? This was clearly going to be on a Jung Rok level of enjoyment. But everything went so wrong. It all started when I went to open the top of the plastic champagne bottle. The top wouldn’t budge. It wasn’t until several minutes later when Stephanie took it from me and cleverly checked the back label where there were instructions to open the bottle—from the bottom. That’s not how bottles work! I had a chocolate caramel Dove bar that was perfectly fine, but by then my fun was gone. This is even worse than Yoon; this is Me Ah Ri sobbing miserably because Yoon won’t date her. It’s bad.

Sweet & Sour Conversation Hearts
More conversation hearts! Why did I do this to myself? Opening the package there was a strong, sour, citric acid smell that wasn’t very appealing. The good news? No mint! Plus, the sour does give the candy a nice bite that makes it more palatable than normal conversation hearts. The bad news? They’re still chalky garbage. These are Se Ra. More enjoyable than most bitchy girlfriends, but she’ll still make out with a white man in America, place 11th in a golf tournament, wrack up some debt and ultimately, refuse to marry you.


Galerie’s Star Wars Milk Chocolate
First of all, the tin is gold, and I’m always up for gold. Second, the tin has BB-8, the best of the droids. I’m getting all sorts of Colin feels from the appearance. The cuteness continues inside with four, red little chocolate hearts. I rip off a wrapper and take a bite. Bland, so so bland. Still, it’s not offensive; it’s not too hard or nasty, just bland. Fortunately, the tin can outlast the chocolate and remain a solid Colin. The candy, however, is definitely a Tae San—a kind of precious individual, but not too exciting.

Gummy Candy Remote
What deranged mind thought that a (almost) life size, gummy, video game controller was the perfect product for Valentine’s Day? As soon as Amanda showed it to me, I knew I had to have it. This is what novelty Valentine’s taste tests were made for. Aesthetically, I guess it’s fine to look at if blue N64 controllers are your thing. The experience definitely goes downhill when you touch it. It’s sticky but harder than a normal gummy. Honestly, I was a little intimidated when it came to taking a bite. The hardness carried over into the mouthfeel, but the flavor wasn’t too bad. The blue raspberry wasn’t overly sweet or cloying. I actually took a second bite. This is definitely a Jung Rok experience. It’s outrageous and kind of awesome in its ridiculousness. But if you make a major life commitment to it, you’ll probably end up trying to file for divorce on Christmas Eve.

AGD - I feel like we have to include it

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