Valentine's candy doesn't have to be so mysterious.  There are ways to figure out what's in the middle without a map, and without using your fingernail.

Most people are on the hunt for the caramel pieces, according to the National Confectioners Association, and there might be a few of us who are digging for nuts too.

Experience has taught us that the popular chewy caramels are usually square, and if we see bumps and ridges there's probably an almond or peanut chunk under the chocolate.  And there are a few other easy ways to tell what's what without sticking a fingernail in the bottom, thinking no one will notice.

The biggest hints are in the shape, according to

Square or rectangular = toffee or caramel

Round or oval = ganache or cream

Bumpy surfaces = nuts

Shiny foil or wrapper = liquid center

Maybe you too have gotten your hopes up that the wrapper was trying to signal that there was a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup-like filling in the center, only to bite in and be disappointed by a runny cherry filling.  Now we know.

In all of your years of trying, have you ever found a peanut butter filling in one of these assorted chocolates?  I haven't.  It's a yearly journey of false hope.  Sometimes the nutty candies will have an outside wrapper, and that's as close as we get to peanut butter.

The round or oval chocolates are still a bit of a mystery because we don't know exactly what flavor the ganache or cream will turn out to be.  I don't know about you, but I really don't want to bite in and discover that the inside is white.  Brown is better.

Even though we've got these general shape and wrapper-based decoding rules that we can follow, it's still handy to have the map at the bottom of the heart-shaped box to tell us what's what.  With that, at least we can be sure it's not nougat if we're in the mood for nuts.

Is anyone waiting until Valentine's Day to eat this stuff?  Some of us might be digging into the extras that we bought early and set aside for ourselves. That's true love.

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