Help Me Hank: Valentine's Day deals from food to heart-shaped fun

Businesses have plenty of options for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day (PxHere)
Valentine's Day (PxHere)

DETROIT – The National Retail Federation says Valentine’s Day total spending is forecast to be a record $20.7 billion. That’s a 6 percent increase over last year.

The survey shows only 34 percent of U.S. consumers plan to celebrate with an evening out and will spend an estimated $3.5 billion.

If you want to wine and dine your sweetheart, but still save some money, USA Today has gathered plenty of restaurants advertising deals.

Also, if you’re getting tired of the same-old, same-old sweethearts treats, there are plenty of alternatives.

Check out both lists below.

Valentine’s Day deals

Auntie Anne’s: Buy one heart-shaped pretzel Thursday, get one free with a coupon at www.auntieannes.com/heart-shaped-pretzels.

Buca di Beppo: A heart-shaped lasagna is part of the Valentine’s Classic Love Package, a $49.99 dine-in only special, which also includes a salad and mini chocolate chip cannoli.

California Pizza Kitchen: Wednesday through Sunday, get an appetizer, two entrees and one dessert from a "Sweet Deal for Two" special menu for $35.

Carrabba’s Italian Grill: Through Sunday, get a four-course meal for two with prices starting at $45.

Firehouse Subs: Get a free dessert with a coupon and a purchase at participating locations Thursday. The coupon will be posted on Firehouse's social media accounts.

Fogo de Chão: Couples who have a full churrasco lunch, dinner or Sunday Brunch at the Brazilian steakhouse Thursday through Sunday get a complimentary dining card redeemable for a free churrasco lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch of equal or greater value. The card can be redeemed Feb. 18 through May 2.

Hard Rock Café: The restaurant will have a few special items including the new Sweetheart Shake for Two, a boozy shake served with a custom sweetheart straw for two.

Maggiano's: Through Sunday, dine in to get the “That’s Amore Meal for Two” for $85 per couple, which includes any starter or two side salads, two entrees from a select menu, two beverages and one dessert. There's also a carryout deal through Sunday.

Max & Erma's: Through Thursday, get a dinner for two for $29, which includes two starters, two select entrees and a dessert to share.

Olive Garden: This is a Valentine's Day takeout special. For $35.99, the dinner for two includes breadsticks, choice of soup or salad, five-cheese marinara or Alfredo dipping sauce, five-cheese ziti al forno or chicken Alfredo for a sharable entree and black tie mousse cake or tiramisu for dessert. Plus, there's an easy way to turn the breadsticks into a bouquet.

Popeyes: Starting Valentine’s Day and for a limited time, get five pieces of chicken (mixed or tenders), two regular sides and two biscuits for $10.

Potbelly Sandwich Shop: Get a free cookie Thursday for mentioning the Valentine’s Day special.

Qdoba: Kiss anyone (or anything) Thursday and get a buy-one-get-one entrée for the chain’s “Qdoba for a Kiss” promotion. “From smooching partners to burritos and pictures of celebrity crushes, all kisses are accepted,” the company announced.

Red Lobster: When you dine in at Red Lobster on Valentine’s Day and order a glass of Ava Grace, you'll get special chocolates, while supplies last.

Starbucks: The coffee giant's Cherry Mocha drink is available through Valentine's Day.

White Castle: The fast-food restaurant is taking reservations at participating locations for seating 4 to 9 p.m. Thursday. Some locations also are taking reservations Friday. Make reservations and learn more at www.whitecastle.com.

Heart-shaped fun

Baskin-Robbins: The world's largest chain of ice cream specialty shops has heart-shaped cakes that can be customized with a phrase. Prepared phrases include "KISS ME" and "BE MINE."

Walmart: The store is selling a Valentine Message Cookie Kit for less than $6. You could also get a heart-shaped cookie cutter and icing to make your own hearts.

Krispy Kreme: The brand introduced cream-filled Valentine Conversation Doughnuts to help fill the void. The doughnuts come in four flavors and 12 sayings.

Sour Patch Kids: These Conversation Hearts are described as "sour then sweet." Phrases include "FRIEND ZONE," "LOL :)" and "OVR IT."

SweeTart Hearts: Phrases include "CUTIE," "YES" and "XOXO."

Tic Tac Be Mine Mix: Strawberry and cherry flavors are in these Valentine's Day Tic Tac candies, with phrases including "Be Mine" and "Hug Me."

Bagels: National bagel brands, Bruegger's Bagels and Einstein Bros. Bagels, have heart-shaped bagels. Pre-ordering is recommended.

Pasta: Stores including Aldi have heart-shaped dry pasta, Costco Wholesale is selling heart-shaped ravioli and Buca di Beppo has a heart-shaped lasagna.

Pizza: The bigger question might be who doesn't have a heart-shaped pizza. Some of the biggest brands include California Pizza Kitchen, Hungry Howie's, Marco's Pizza, Papa John's, Papa Murphy's and Pizza Hut. Other brands include: Giordano's, Boston's Pizza, Fresh Brothers and many more. (Tossing the dough yourself? Search Pinterest for inspiration.)

Pastries: Heart-shaped cakes and cookies are available at many grocery stores and bakeries. Great Harvest Bread has heart-shaped cookies and brownies. Cinnabon has "Heart CinnaPacks," which is a heart-shaped container filled with BonBites or MiniBon Rolls. Great American Cookies and Mrs. Fields both have heart cakes.

Pretzels: Two brands have special colored pretzels for Valentine's Day -- Wetzel's Pretzels are red and Pretzelmaker's are pink. Auntie Anne's pretzels are heart-shaped.

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