Don’t skip dessert! 58% call it a requirement on Valentine’s Day

NEW YORK — Valentine’s Day really is the sweetest holiday — almost three in five (58%) actively dating Americans say dessert is a non-negotiable part of their dates.

A survey of 1,000 Gen Z and 1,000 millennials who are seeking a serious partner looked to uncover the anatomy of the perfect Valentine’s Day date. When it comes to the food, desserts reign superior (41%), narrowly beating out the entrée (40%) and far beyond the appetizers (10%) or sides (3%).

Ideally, Valentine’s Day dates should begin with flowers or a gift (41%) or being picked up from their home by their date (33%), though 30 percent of Gen Z would prefer sweet treats, compared to 24 percent of millennials.

The date should then continue with going out to dinner (59%) or a movie (33%) and end with some form of togetherness — whether it be alone time with their date (48%) or a goodnight kiss (43%).

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of HI-CHEW®, results also find that eight in 10 (80%) respondents plan to celebrate Cupid on Feb. 14 this year, and of those respondents, 63 percent plan to go out, while 20 percent plan to stay home.

Infographic desserts over other Valentine's date plans

Millennials, however, are looking to go all in, as 31 percent are planning an overnight getaway, compared to 24 percent of Gen Z. When it comes to the budget for the Valentine’s Day date, respondents are willing to spend an average of $114 on going out.

For those who are planning to stay put, the top plans are to watch TV or a movie (61%), cook a nice dinner (59%), become intimate (51%), and eat desserts or candy (38%). For those who are looking to save some dough, the expected average stay-home date should cost about $86.

“Valentine’s Day has always been a candy-centric holiday, with a sweet gift being the perfect way to show your love to your significant other,” says spokesperson Teruhiro Kawabe (Terry), the chief representative for the USA & President, CEO of Morinaga America, Inc, in a statement. “While many respondents may stick with old favorites, it’s always great to look to try something new to make this Valentine’s Day special.”

When it comes time to end the date with their favorite dessert, many will opt for chocolate (54%), ice cream (51%), or cake (40%). More specifically, respondents are likely to choose chocolate-dipped strawberries (49%), cheesecake (45%), chocolate mousse (28%), and even strawberry ice cream (25%). Other respondents will opt for more unique desserts, such as a candy apple (11%), cherry pie (9%), and key lime pie (9%).

Two in five (43%) respondents would prefer a Valentine’s Day gift they can wear over one they can eat (14%). Interestingly, more respondents would trust their date to pick out a surprise gift that aligns with their dessert preferences rather than their fashion sense (21% vs 17%).

“It’s no surprise that traditional Valentine’s Day desserts, like chocolate-covered strawberries or strawberry ice cream, are a top choice among both Gen Z and millennials,” adds Kawabe. “But opting to try some unique treats, like key lime pie or a candy apple, can be a fun way to add in new traditions and make the holiday unforgettable and personal to you.”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 1,000 Gen Z and 1,000 millennials who are actively dating was commissioned by HI-CHEW® between Dec. 22 and Dec. 29, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).