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‘Chocolate makes people feel warm’: Local chocolatiers gear up for Valentine’s Day

Published: Feb. 11, 2021 at 9:50 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - It’s hard to pin down exactly when Valentine’s Day and chocolate became synonymous. Whatever the reason, local chocolatiers like Ingrid Shim at Aurora Chocolate are already working extra hard to keep up with the demand that always comes this time of year.

Shim said the candy and chocolate business always picks up when it gets cold out. She said she actually had to close for most of the last summer due to the pandemic. When she returned in August, she said her sales were down by about 50% compared to the previous year. The holidays helped, but she said she’s still looking at sales about 15% down from where they were for Valentine’s Day 2020.

But why do people eat so much chocolate for Valentine’s Day? Shim’s theory is that chocolate makes one feel kind of like when their sweetheart walks through the door.

“Valentine’s Day is full of love,” Shim said behind a counter full of sweets, “and chocolate makes people feel like warm, and love, and sweet.”

Aurora Chocolate sells fancy chocolate. Shim said she uses high-quality ingredients used in gourmet chocolate shops made at a standard that isn’t found on most grocery store shelves.

However, she said she tries to implement ingredients from Alaska local vendors whenever she can. She said one of her specialties is chocolate mushrooms made with Alaska truffles.

She knows that she’s tending to a certain customer when selling her chocolate and that her high-quality mark comes with a higher price tag. Overall, the National Retail Federation predicts Americans will spend about $6 billion less on the holiday than last year.

While the pandemic continues to make life hard, Shim said people shouldn’t knock the convenient superstore chocolates.

“There’s different markets for different customers. When I was a kid it’s the same thing. I grab a chocolate from the grocery. I still love it,” she said.

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