Valentines’ love chocolate

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    By AMY ISOM

    Chocolate. The word makes mouths water. Valentine’s Day witnesses a surge of sales for local chocolate-making companies.

    Chocolate sales go up as much as 900 percent on Valentine’s Day, and while most area chocolate sellers agree that Christmas is the most profitable season, they say Valentine’s Day takes the cake as the single most profitable day.

    “We average about $300 a day, but sales go up as much as $10,000 on Valentine’s Day,” said Christy Johnson, manager of Kara Chocolates in Provo.

    A surge of buyers that large would be hard to handle without proper planning. Local businesses hire extra people, including local college students part-time, to make sure a large enough supply of candy is on the shelves. Some stores, like See’s Candies, even set up an express line for the holidays.

    Men are the super-buyers who make the day incomparable in sales, many local business owners agreed.

    “On Valentine’s itself, the majority of the customers are men. They come in right after work, before they head home, in a panic. They have these looks on their faces like, `Help me. Help me. Tell me what to do,'” said Susan Martin, manager of University Mall See’s Candies.

    Last minute runs to the store don’t tell the receiver what kind of chocolate they’ve been given, though.

    Byrleen Hansem, manager of Mrs. Cavanaugh’s — voted one of the ten best chocolate companies in the U.S. — said chocolate is determined by grade. A higher grade means a small amount of wax is used in making the chocolate, it has a higher melting level — as in, “it melts in your mouth” — and the filling is a butter creme rather than puffed-up egg whites, Hansem said.

    The meaning behind the gift is up for personal speculation. And interpretation usually varies by gender. Some women believe there’s no meaning at all.

    “It’s a cop-out. It means he couldn’t think of a personal gift to give,” said Jaime Kimball, 21, a junior from Mesa, Ariz., majoring in public relations.

    Ryan Hartman, 24, a senior from Fort Collins, Colo., majoring in microbiology, disagreed.

    “I would only give chocolate to a girl if I meant something by it. Of all the candies, chocolate is the candy of love,” he said.

    “Sweets for the sweetheart, you know what I’m sayin’? It’s a tradition,” said Mark Guisinger, 23, a senior from Columbus, Ohio, majoring in theater.

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