Put Down Your Bad Valentine Day’s Gift and Give a Bouquet of Pickles (or Vibrators) Instead

A basket full of Slim Jims.
Photo illustration by Slate. Images by monticelllo/iStock/Getty Images Plus; Ponomariova_Maria/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

A bouquet of flowers, for Valentine’s Day? I know what you’re thinking: groundbreaking. But what if you keep the bouquet concept but toss the flowers and replace them with something else—like, say, pickles? Now we’re talking.

The pickle idea comes courtesy of a Boston-based company called Grillo’s Pickles. Grillo’s recommends arranging multiple varieties on wooden skewers and garnishing with fresh herbs and colorful peppers. Grillo’s isn’t the only company to make a shameless public relations play via creative bouquet advice this year: You may have also come across Olive Garden’s campaign for the breadstick bouquet. But if this concept is new to you, you’re apparently already behind the times: A post on suggests that the “quirky, edible” bouquet is becoming a bit of cliché. Well, cliché or not, I’m all for it.

Bouquets of flowers have their uses, but there’s something durably charming about the idea of personalizing a bouquet around your loved one’s preferences—as long as those preferences are vaguely oblong, or come on sticks, or can be put on sticks, or otherwise can be folded or arranged to resemble something that fits in a bouquet. Like the best gifts, the bouquet of not-flowers is thoughtful because it demonstrates that the giver pays attention to what the recipient likes.

But this isn’t just an “It’s the thought that counts” kind of thing: Givers of not-flower bouquets should strive to arrange the items into an actual bouquet. For example, I just clicked on a link that promised a bouquet of doughnuts with every intention of suing someone if a photo loaded picturing a normal box of doughnuts. Luckily, those rolls of dough are on skewers, and I can call off my lawyers. Not only does going to the trouble to arrange the items show that you put in effort, but it will also pay dividends when the bouquet looks better in pictures. (A life lesson to take with you in the age of Instagram.) To this end, Grillo’s offers a few helpful tips for presentation, intended for pickle bouquets but applicable to all sorts: For a vase, “we recommend using floral foam to stick the skewers into as you arrange. If you’d like to present as a bouquet, wrap the ends of skewers with tissue paper.” Colorful tissue paper and ribbon are of course key to putting together a photogenic bouquet.

What else can you put in a bouquet? Um, really anything, now that we’ve been freed from the tyranny of flowers! The movie You’ve Got Mail has a stray line of dialogue about a “bouquet of sharpened pencils,” a reminder that writing implements are very much an option for the stationery enthusiast. Any food on a stick is another category to consider: corn on the cob, corn dogs, kabobs, popsicles, lollipops, etc. But other elongated foods like churros, Slim Jims, baguettes, candy bars, and Twizzlers would also work quite well. French fries already come in a cone sometimes, which is three-quarters of the way there. And food-wise, don’t limit yourself to what seems easy: Someone on the social network Imgur received a bouquet of hot wings. On the non-food end, vibrators and dildos are thematically appropriate for Valentine’s Day, and they’re the right shape. Socks and diapers can be rolled up artfully. A lot of makeup and skincare products come in tubes, perfect for bouquet arrangement: mascara, highlighter sticks, etc. Honestly the possibilities are endless. When anything can be a bouquet, the world is your oyster. And you can take that oyster and put it in a bouquet. They say oysters are an aphrodisiac, you know. Happy Valentine’s Day!