On Your Table: Treats for the sweet on Valentine’s Day

A celebration of love — and candy on Feb. 14

By Cathy Branciaroli, Food Correspondent, The Times


The tradition of giving sweets to those you are ‘sweet’ on goes back to the mid-1800s in England.

I’ll bet you don’t know why Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14th.  Turns out to have nothing to do with romance.  Or candy for that matter, although according to The Huffington Post, people spend more than $1 billion on Valentine’s candy each year.

No, the origins go back to ancient Roman times when an early Christian priest named Valentine defied the Emperor Claudius in illegally performing marriages for soldiers despite a government decree that only single men were fit to serve in Claudius’s armies.  Once his crime was discovered, he was condemned to die as a traitor. Before he was executed on February 14th,, Valentine wrote notes of encouragement from his prison cell to his family and friends signed “from your Valentine.”

Candy came into the picture later.  By the mid-1800’s, the idea of Valentine’s Day as a celebration of romance had captured the fancy of Victorians who began showering their loved ones with gifts on the day.  In response to the demand, a British candy company called Cadbury started selling beautifully decorated heart-shaped boxes of chocolate for Valentine’s Day.

So thank you to Saint Valentine and Mister Cadbury for standing on the side of love.

Today, aiding and abetting in this cause are local candy makers such as Sue Ford, owner of the family operated Candy for all Occasions.  Recently relocated to the Jennersville Shopping Center in West Grove from her original Chester County location at the junction of Route 896 and State Road, Sue has been hand-crafting chocolate truffles and other candies for twenty-five years.  She told me that “chocolate makes people happy” and so her labor of love is to spread that happiness around.  Helping her out in this enterprise are her children who also work in the store.

Sue taught herself to make chocolates and they are all done by hand.  The centers are composed of heavy cream and dark chocolate which are rolled and hand dipped with any number of swirling toppings.  Of course if your sweetheart would like nostalgic candies like Necco Wafers or Mallow Cups, Sue has these too, along with jelly beans, hard candies, fresh roasted nuts and hard to find confections.  Right now she is also offering chocolate-dipped strawberries that would make your mouth water.

If your goal is make this Valentine’s Day special, then Sue will make up a customized basket with personal messages engraved on its ribbons.  Better hurry though, She said that she and her staff are working around the clock in order to meet the holiday demand.

I can tell you from my personal taste test that it would be well worth calling to place an order, which can be delivered for the big day.  Or if your special occasion is a wedding, anniversary or family event, she can create gifts fit for those occasions as well, hence “Candy for All Occasions.”

Candy for All Occasions is located at 854 West Baltimore Pike in West Grove.  The store is open from 10M to 9PM Monday through Sunday.  Their phone is 610/869-3839 and their website Is WWW.candyforalloccasions.com.  For those living in New Castle County, Delaware, her other store Is located in the Fairfax Shopping Center at 2215 Concord Pike, with the phone 302/654-9171.

Cathy Branciaroli also writes about her adventures in the kitchen on her blog Delaware Girl Eats

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