February 2011 - Valentine Chocolates from Popcorn to Prunes

Driving North or South along the US East Coast?



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Any car ride gets better when you have a box of chocolates on your lap. Along Interstate 95, we were surprised at how many REAL chocolate shops we found along the way. There is something wonderful to be said for family businesses, often with children or grandchildren running them, selling to second and third generations of chocoholic customers.

Like chefs, each shop has its signature candies which keep the regulars addicted, yet their chocolates have evolved over the years with additions of trendy creations. In these times of “everything is old in a minute”, it is heartwarming to see neighborhoods supporting these oldies but goodies. You should too.


Chocolate Dipped Twinkies

MA-Chocolate Covered Prunes
MD-Chocolate Sponge
FL-Chocolate Pizza
Chocolate Potato Chips
Chocolate Meltaways

Chocolate Dipped Twinkies

MA Exit 38N or 37S: Winfrey's - To find a chocolate oasis on the road is always a dream. This one started out as a home fudge business so a couple could become stay-at-home parents for twin boys while using their fudge stove to heat their home. Nowadays they are up to twenty-five flavors of fudge (even penuchi) and five retail stores. They can satisfy any chocoholic with chocolate covered Twinkies or Jordan crackers, non-pareils, raspberry jells or the new raspberry truffle.

There's old-fashioned puff candy or chocolate macadamia popcorn, and you can create boxes of all dark or all caramels or all fudge. There's sugar-free almonds, butter creams, peanut brittle, toasted coconut, vanilla caramel, almond buttercrunch, cashew clusters, dipped pineapple, periwinkles (caramel pecan clusters), covered ginger and chocolate covered potato chips and pretzels. 41 Main St. Tel: 781-279-7448. www.winfreys.com

Chocolate Covered Prunes

MA Exit 10S or 9N: Furlong's Cottage Candies - Stock up for the trip at this 83-year-old homemade chocolate store. They are famous for stemmed cherries dipped into fondant and chocolate. Stan likes the cream centers - they offer eighteen different ones (pineapple, ice cream drop, pistachio, coconut), but for Sandra it's the buttercrunch.

There's raspberry truffles, dipped marshmallows, chocolate covered nuts or apricots (there's also orange peel, ginger and prunes). People who love hard and chewy candy will enjoy molasses sponge, peanut butter bolsters and caramash. Sugar-free treats are here, and most everything can be shipped home. 1355 Providence Hwy (US 1). Tel: 781-762-4124.

Chocolate Sponge

MD Exit 50: Rheb Candy - Way back in 1917 when WWI ended, self-taught Louis Rheb started making taffies, brittles, jellies and fudge in the basement of his home right here. Louis and his wife Esther went to different markets to sell them until they converted their garage into this store in 1950.

Now in its 3rd generation, Louis' many recipes include his famous vanilla or chocolate butter cream, Jimmy truffles (with sprinkles), coconut clusters, pineapple or cherries covered in chocolate, sponge (honeycomb & molasses), peanut butter cups, cashew bark, whipped cream filled chocolates and Sandra’s favorite, the chocolate covered caramel.

The sixteen sugar-free options can be butter crunch, marshmallow, peanut truffle or cashew clusters. Pets can crunch on the carob dog bones, and even chocolate-phobics can enjoy the sucking candies, fruit slices and peanut brittle. 3352 Wilkens Ave. Tel: 410-644-4321. www.rhebcandy.com

Chocolate Pizza

FL Exit 350: Peterbrooke Chocolatier - Chocolate popcorn put them on the map. The combination of sweet, salty, crunchy and chocolatey is a 28-year-favorite. At a neighborhood Holiday Magic festival local retailers offered complimentary samples, but founder Phyllis Geiger could not afford to give away pricey truffles. Putting on her thinking cap, she bought popcorn at the theater next door and then covered it in milk chocolate - and the confection was a hit! The following day, after the 4th customer asked for it, the Peterbrooke chocolate covered popcorn legacy began.

Munch some at the cash or try their chocolate pretzels or chocolate "fries". Pick up some sugar-free bridge mix, caramel bars or chocolate blueberries for the car. Here's some sweet gift ideas: milk chocolate crayons in a box, chocolate pizza, or they can even cover a wine bottle with chocolate. 1470 San Marco Blvd., Jacksonville. Tel: 904-398-2488 or 800-771-0019. www.peterbrooke.com

Chocolate Potato Chips

FL Exit 261: Angel & Phelps Chocolate Factory - The FREE weekday 30 min. guided tour just whets your appetite for some of the 83-year-old classics like chocolate-covered potato chips (light or dark) or pretzels. Other home-made favorites are the made-from-scratch vanilla caramels, rocco - the award winning buttercrunch toffee/chocolate topped with almonds, orange and raspberry jellies, and the honeybees (turtles) with pecan pieces, caramel and chocolate.

On the shelves of this 1925 company, started by 2 women - Riddell Angell and Cora Phelps - you can buy chocolate molded gifts like a computer, tools or chocolate greeting cards, and there's a sugar-free case.  154 S. Beach St., Daytona Beach. Tel: 800-969-2634 or 386-252-6531. www.angellandphelps.com

Chocolate Meltaways

FL Exit 79: Hoffman's Chocolates - It was double-dipped chocolate (dark, milk, white) pretzels that brought this shop fame. This family business then went on to develop meltaways, which do just that - melt in your mouth, a bit like chocolate mousse. Sandra adored the almond butter crunch, and everyone will enjoy the pecan jitterbugs, caramel marshmallows, key lime cream, cashew clusters and covered oreo cookies.

Sucrose-free needs are covered by 18 options (peanut butter pillows, coconut, nut clusters), and there are malt balls (mint cookie and cream) and now, cupcakes and ice cream. 10957 N Military Trail (Garden Square Shoppes). Tel: 561-626-2009. www.hoffmans.com

What's inside Drive I-95 5th Edition: Here's a FREE look

Look ahead exit by exit to see which motels (with 800 numbers), gas stations, restaurants, campgrounds, 24-hour pharmacies, auto mechanics, radio stations or radar traps are there, and where you can stay with your pet. We share our stories of the road : history on I-95, museums, trivia, towns to explore or places to run the kids. These can be read for entertainment during the drive, and may entice you to stop, stretch your legs and discover someplace new.

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