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You're Here, You're Queer, and I Hold You Very Dear
Fancy heart-shaped chocolate assortment
Russell Stover Candies (8-ounce box, $9.99)
When Russell Stover first began manufacturing heart-shaped collections of chocolate bon bons, in the 1920s, the gift assortments quickly became the ne plus ultra of Valentine's Day love offerings — for heterosexuals. In the more closeted days of the 20th century, it took a very brave man or woman to hand an elaborate box of frilly sweets to a same-sex valentine. "You could lose your job for doing something so brazen in the 1950s," says a former schoolteacher. "You practically had to exchange valentines in the privacy of your own home with the doors locked and the curtains drawn." It has been a long journey to giving over-the-top confections freely — at least around here. "I used to get a lot of those beautifully decorated candy boxes when I was younger," says Camp publisher John Long. "But I was living in San Francisco then."
You Are Out of My League and I'm Aware of That
Christopher Elbow Artisanal Chocolates
1819 McGee, 816-842-1300
Few things in life look pretty and taste good — it's the culinary equivalent of the uncanny valley. The more beautiful a piece of chocolate, the more likely it is to taste bad. But Christopher Elbow breaks the mold, offering compact and exquisitely imagined flavors that are as intriguing as the colorful whirls painting each square of chocolate. His refusal to sacrifice taste for art is a symbol of hope — the hope, for instance, that your more attractive significant other is willing to be less shallow and find the same deep connection with you as with a rectangular gift box from Elbow's shop.