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Posted on Sat. Feb. 16, 2013 - 12:01 am EDT


What better way to show love than a box of chocolates?

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The day before Valentine’s Day probably wouldn’t seem to be the best time to stop at one of the local DeBrand stores for a box of chocolates for your sweetheart.

But I did it anyway.

I’m not big on waiting in long lines for long periods of time, but DeBrand gears up for the onslaught of chocolate buyers every February by setting up a system that really speeds up the process. I went last year and had such a good experience, I figured I’d go at the 11th hour again this year to get my wife’s favorite chocolates (and mine). And despite the all-male crowd packing the store, I was in and out in less than 10 minutes with my purchases.

A receptionist at the door takes your name and offers you a free chocolate to eat while you browse. And in no time your name is called by one of the several sales persons behind the counter and you are making your choice and checking out.

I had to stop at the local Walgreens on my way home as well, and it was similarly filled with people shopping the Valentine’s Day aisle with heart-shaped boxes of chocolates.

DeBrand actually specializes in their heart-shaped boxes each Valentine’s Day. Each year they highlight a new, unique design, which they say has made them popular collector’s items. Or you can opt for their chocolate truffle heart boxes or their Valentine Chocolate Thoughts Bars.

The National Confectioners Association says Valentine’s Day is the single-largest sales day of the year for boxed chocolate. And it adds that 75 percent of candy sold for Valentine’s Day is chocolate.

According to the National Retail Federation, more than half of us who want to do something special for our sweethearts on Valentine’s Day will buy candy, spending a total of $1.6 billion across the country. Each person, they report, will spend an average of $130 total for the special day on chocolates, flowers, gifts and more. (I must be cheap, because I didn’t spend that much.)

We all know how healthy chocolate is for us. That’s why I eat it so often, of course, and why I feel I’m doing something really beneficial for the love of my life when I buy her a box of the best. Here are some other interesting tidbits from “The World Atlas of Chocolate”:

A 2010 survey says Switzerland leads the world in annual consumption of chocolate at 22 pounds per person. The United States comes in 11th with Americans eating nearly 12 pounds apiece each year.

16 of the top 20 consuming countries are European.

Chocolate is North America’s favorite flavor.

71 percent of North American chocolate eaters prefer milk chocolate.

More chocolate is consumed in the winter than any other season.

66 percent of chocolate is consumed between meals.

22 percent of all chocolate consumption occurs between 8 p.m. and midnight.

Kerry Hubartt is editor of The News-Sentinel.

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