An entirely opinion-based ranking of least to most offensive fillings—plus, what to gift instead.
It’s inevitable during the holidays: Someone is going to present you with one of those drugstore boxes of assorted chocolates. You’re going to (against your better judgment) open the package to give them a try. You know how this story ends; you will inevitably find yourself with a box full of half-bitten chocolates with strangely hued and textured centers. Here’s a definitive ranking of every candy in that box of chocolate so you can, contrary to the popular saying, know what you’re going to get, and know which ones to avoid. And perhaps, you’ll even find the necessary motivation to resist giving (or regifting) them as gifts yourself during the holiday season—your loved ones will thank you, really.
Chocolate filled with chocolate is usually your safest bet, and what we enjoyed the most. Think truffles, chocolate cream, and bon bons. I’m not saying they’re great, and the quality of the chocolate filling is usually questionable and varies widely on the brand and price point. But you’ll at least finish the whole piece instead of leaving a sad broken bit in the tray. If you’re willing to put forth a little more effort though, these highly-giftable Cocoa Hazelnut Truffles only use five ingredients and can be made in your microwave.
Caramel-filled are usually OK-tasting and on the safer side, but it’s the inconsistent texture that makes these questionable. Some brands’ caramel-centers are near-liquid, while others will have you chewing for what feels like hours after one bite into their teeth-coating caramel. Avoid these if you can, or rely on a high-quality brand that you enjoy—Ghirardelli is usually a safe bet. A jar of homemade caramel sauce however, will always be a better gifting alternative.
If “meh” were a ranking, that’s where we would put peanut butter-filled chocolates, nut clusters, and those weird chocolate fillings with different nuts crumbled in toffee-like goo. They’re not exactly a treat we would be thrilled to receive as a holiday gift—but if we did, we would probably end up finishing the box eventually. A better option? Chocolate-Butterscotch-Nut Clusters that are so easy, you can even have kids help with the prep.
The consistency, flavor, and look of nougat vary so much by brand that we’re not even sure what nougat is anymore—but this is ranked pretty far low for a strange waxy texture and bizarre artificial-tasting sweetness. If you’re looking to gift an easy sweet treat, homemade fudge is a foolproof option that won’t go to waste. For a fun twist on a seasonal favorite, try this Red Velvet Fudge.
In short—don’t even bother with these. Unsurprisingly, these were our least-favorite by far. Reactions varied from “This tastes like a soap scent” to “I need to spit this out.” There’s a reason the chocolates left over in these variety boxes are always the ones with the chalky, pastel-colored fillings. The worst offenders: Raspberry- and cherry-filled chocolates, as well as chocolates with rough, gummy coconut centers. Any homemade dessert would be a welcome alternative, but if you’re set on a fruity treat, a winter pie like this Elegant Citrus Tart is a beautiful and delicious replacement for a box of candy that may very well end up in the trash.