No Valentine’s Day is complete without a little something sweet. It’s estimated that Valentine’s Day spending will rise this year, with nationwide candy sales reaching more than $2 billion. But where will you splurge for your sweetheart? Big box superstores will have the standard assortments of mass-produced peanut butter cups and red licorice, but for something extra special and extra sweet, you’re better off going to an independent store. These shops specialize in homemade morsels, customizable assortments and one-of-a-kind creations. If your mouth isn’t watering yet, just keep reading about these great independent candy shops across the country.
1. The Royal Chocolate – Virginia Beach, VA
Known for a year-round assortment of gourmet candy apples, The Royal Chocolate takes everyday snacks and holiday favorites to a new level. Pick up a pre-made Valentine’s Day gift basket or try something a little more adventurous, like chocolate covered bacon or potato chips! The Royal Chocolate also makes for the perfect Valentine’s Day outing. The shop offers chocolate fondue for two every day, and there’s even a chocolate and wine tasting event scheduled for Sunday, February 15. For more information, visit www.theroyalchocolate.com or stop by the Virginia Beach Town Center location.
2. Lagomarcino’s – Moline, IL
The Lagomarcino family has been sweetening downtown Moline since 1908. And if their turn-of-the-century storefront and family memorabilia doesn’t tempt you, the candy sure will. The store’s entryway is lined on both sides with antique cases of truffles, fudge and other homemade treats. The back of the store features an old-fashioned soda shop and ice cream parlor with Lagomarcino’s homemade ice cream, a local favorite. For more information, visit www.lagomarcinos.com or stop by the downtown Moline location on 5th Avenue.
3. Nama’s Candy Store – Edmonds, WA
An Edmonds tradition, Nama’s Candy Store will have you in the Valentine’s Day spirit before you even walk in the door with its signature window displays. Mix things up this year by getting your sweetheart a bouquet of Nama’s lollipops or yogurt- and peppermint-covered pretzels. The quaint shop is located right off Edmond’s Main Street near the Waterfront. For more information visit, www.namascandystore.com.
4. Weiser Classic Candy – Weiser, ID
Weiser Classic Candy specializes in traditional favorites from the local Idaho community and around the world. Choose from a wide variety of treats like truffles, caramels and chocolate covered bacon, or let the experts do the work for you by putting together an Employee Favorites box. They’ll even gift-wrap your treats for you and include a personal message of your choice. Visit this one-stop Valentine’s Day shop at www.weiserclassiccandy.com or on State Street in Weiser, ID.
5. Shane Confectionary – Philadelphia, PA
Shane Confectionary is one of the oldest candy stores in the country, fittingly located in one of the oldest cities in the country. In business for more than 100 years, Shane Confectionary takes old-fashioned candy-making seriously. The store’s current owners, brothers Ryan and Erick Berley, still use a 90-year-old cast-iron buttercream churner and dip each chocolate by hand. Pick up your sweetheart a sweet treat from the past, or better yet, stop by the picturesque shop on Market Street together to see the history for yourselves! For more information, visit www.shanecandies.com.
6. Nutz About Fudge – Asheville, NC
This family business has any flavor of fudge your sweetheart could want. Located in the historic Grove Arcade building in downtown Asheville, Nutz About Fudge offers traditional favorites like chocolate and dulce de leche fudge, as well as unique options like amaretto chocolate swirl and candy bar-inspired fudge. All of the fudge is made in small batches to ensure maximum freshness and flavor. If you’re not a fan of fudge, try the family’s homemade ice cream! For more information, visit www.nutzaboutfudge.com or head to the Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville.
7. Antoinette’s Sweets – Depew, NY
At this old-fashioned candy and ice cream parlor, not much has changed over the last 100 years and three generations. Owned and operated by the same family in the Buffalo area since 1915, Antoinette’s specializes in all the traditional favorites like sponge candy, truffles and nonpareils. They even still make their own whipped cream for their delicious sundaes and shakes. For more information, visit www.antoinettesbuffalo.com or stop by the parlor just outside of Buffalo.
8. Z. Cioccolato – San Francisco, CA
This family-owned shop in San Francisco has something for every sweet-toothed sweetheart. First, there are the barrels overflowing with saltwater taffy, the perfect complement to a Valentine’s Day on the coast. Then, there are the one-of-a-kind fudge creations behind the glass counter. Try the best-selling California Earthquake Fudge that combines salty and sweet with a mixture of milk chocolate fudge, coconut and walnuts. Z. Cioccolato’s fudge is so creative that it has been featured on the Cooking Channel’s Unique Sweets. For more information, visit www.zcioccolato.com or head to Columbus Avenue in San Francisco.
9. Nancy’s Candy and Spice – Lawrenceville, GA
Owned by Jerusalem natives Nancy and Hashem Abuaisheh, Nancy’s Candy and Spice is all about flavor. The store offers fresh spices and seasonings – a unique find in the town of Lawrenceville – and a variety of handmade candies. Bring your Valentine some fresh, unique flavors with an assortment of key lime almonds, milk chocolate raisins or sugarcoated chickpeas. While you’re there, pick up some new seasonings to make a romantic Valentine’s Day meal. Visit www.nancyscandynspice.com or check out the gallery-like shop just outside of Atlanta.
10. Romolo Chocolates – Erie, PA
In 1906, Romolo Stefanelli immigrated to the United States from Italy in order to learn to make great candy. Today, a third and fourth generation of the Stefanelli family continue his work behind the counters of Romolo chocolates. The family specializes in sponge candy, and their award-winning gift box of caramels, crèmes and truffles makes for an easy Valentine’s Day go-to. For more information, visit www.romolochocolates.com or head to West 8th Street in Erie.
No matter what you have planned for Valentine’s Day, make sure it includes a trip to an independent candy store in your city. Your sweetheart and your sweet tooth will thank you!
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