On its website, Harry & David says this about the pears my friend Alice sent: "Harry & David has spent 75 years perfecting our Royal Riviera Pear -- a comice pear so juicy you can eat it with a spoon."
Elsewhere, I discovered that European royalty has "long enjoyed" the Comice pear for "its smooth, creamy texture and exquisite taste" (http://www.beststuff.com/fromthewire/royal-riviera-pears-the-ultimate-holiday-gift.html).
Still another site offers advice about checking for ripeness: "apply [. . .] gentle thumb pressure near the stem end, and when the fruit gives slightly, it is ready to eat" (http://www.usapears.com/en/Recipes%20And%20Lifestyle/Now%20Serving/Pears%20and%20Varieties/Comice.aspx).
I'll try to remember this advice tomorrow. Today, I just grabbed one from the box (the reddish one to the left in the photo), took it to work, and ate it happily, accompanied by a couple of slices of cheese. So maybe it wasn't soft enough for a spoon (I used to eat these pears with a demitasse spoon as a child, a habit picked up by watching my father use a teaspoon) and maybe it didn't drip down my chin, but it was still exquisite (worthy of being sought out, according to the Latin roots).
You don't have to be royalty. You need only have a friend who makes an annual, most welcome gift, as exquisitely delicious as she is kind.
Seek one out -- a Royal Riviera or such a friend -- and you too will feel like a queen (or king).