>One of my favorite presents to give family and friends is a box of freshly made chocolates. Lucky for me Lehigh Valley is blessed with many fine chocolatiers, including: - Premise Maid Candies, - Tallarico's Chocolates in South Side Bethlehem, - Chocolate Lab in Downtown Bethlehem, and - Josh Early Candies, a local tradition and my favorite. 

Just before Christmas I found myself in the Allentown location of Josh Early (there's also one in Bethlehem) looking for some small foil-wrapped chocolates for stocking stuffers and a little something to give my boss.

The scent of chocolate wafting through the store when I walked in was intoxicating. A scent that strong doesn't come from just selling chocolate - they actually make it there.

After grabbing a small basket to hold my collection of delicacies, it took three loops around the store before finally making my final selections. Would it be dark chocolate nonpareils or chocolate-covered raisins? Mint meltaways or a pound of roasted nuts? And what about hard candy? Too many decisions!

And as luck would have it, my mother came walking through the door as I made my way to the counter! Ironically she was there to pick up a two-pound box of assorted chocolates to bring with her to Christmas Day dinner at my house. Looks like I learned my chocolate-gift-giving habit from her.

The foil-wrapped holiday candy I bought for the stockings was a hit and was devoured within minutes. And the 2 lb. box of chocolates from mom is now at my place and in the final stages of being annihilated. That old "Forrest Gump" line about life being like a box of chocolates has been running through my head each time I have a piece.