Some lovers may wait until the last minute to buy Valentine’s Day gifts, but local chocolatiers don’t have the luxury of procrastinating.
For the South Bend Chocolate Company, holiday preparation began 30-40 days ago.
“I love that it’s Monday,” said Mark Tarner, founder of the South Bend Chocolate Company. “Because (the rush will) start on Friday. In the middle of the week, it is difficult to catch your breath. I feel like I’m out of breath for 18 hours.
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Some of the best-selling Valentine’s Day products this season include chocolate-covered strawberries and boxes of chocolates. Linda Skwarcan, general manager of Veni’s Sweet Shop in Niles, said anything wrapped in a heart is popular right now.
“We probably have the best selection of heart-shaped boxes, at least locally, of anyone in the area,” Skwarcan said. “We have them ranging from two ounces to five, six pound heart boxes.”
Veni’s Sweet Shop has dozens of boxes of each size ready for customers to purchase. They also make about 150 giant candy apples and hundreds of pounds of chocolate covered strawberries.
Even with the continued popularity of chocolates in heart-shaped boxes, more and more products are becoming top sellers this Valentine’s Day season. Tarner said Valentine’s Day choices are everywhere.
“I think it’s better for the consumer,” Tarner said. “We probably have five to ten items that are selling really well. We are still selling our chocolate covered cherries. »
Tarner also said that the South Bend Chocolate Company might run out of truffles because many of them were sold out in advance. One product that’s gaining popularity right now, he said, is Valentine’s Day pretzels, which are cherry flavored.
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The Covid-19 pandemic does not affect chocolate production, but it does affect the availability of packaging boxes. Tarner said the South Bend Chocolate Company did not have all the box sizes it needed because they were produced in China.
“There were a lot of things that people will have to have a little patience with,” Tarner said.
Skwarcan said the difference between Valentine’s Day and other holidays, like Christmas, is that people generally know what they’re buying. People will buy the chocolates their loved ones love, so she recommends those customers buy a personalized box of chocolates.
“If for some reason they don’t know what they like, then our deluxe assortment of chocolates is a really nice box,” Skwarcan said. “It has milk and dark. It contains turtles, caramel, nuts, raisins, caramels, truffles, coconut and peanut butter. It’s a very nice mix. »
Skwarcan encouraged customers to support their local confectionery and chocolate businesses this season.