Saint Valentine's Day, also known as Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is a holiday observed on February 14 each year. The Most commonly observed Valentine's Day tradition is expressing one's love with an exchange of cards, flowers, gifts, and chocolates.

As I thought about the tradition of chocolates on Valentine’s Day, it dawned on me how many great local chocolate shops we have right here in Lehigh Valley. Forget about going to the grocery store or pharmacy, check out some the family owned and operated stores waiting for you to come in and try some of their delicious sweets and treats.

1. Josh Early Candies brings 100 year old recipes to life every day. To date, their master candy makers continue to use the same batch recipes developed in the early 1900's. They currently have two stores (Allentown and Bethlehem) and four family members who continue the tradition of Josh Early Candies. They’re proud to say that they’re a fifth generation in the family business. One of their best sellers and one of my favorites are their nonpareils. If you’re’ not familiar, nonpareils are a decorative confection made of tiny sugar balls. These sugar balls are placed on top dollops of chocolate giving you a combination of crunchiness and sweetness in every bite. Each hand made piece of chocolate has over 589 seeds on it.

2. Premise Maid has been a family owned and operated business for over 30 years. Premise Maid was founded on the notion that all the chocolates were to be made on the premise. Their building is located in an old homestead in Breinigville consisting of a stone barn, carriage house and farm house. The structures dates back to pre-Civil war era and have all been restored to retain their old world charm. Their small historic village currently consists of a Chocolate Shoppe, Bakery and Ice Creamery. I recommend trying one of their 40 flavors of ice creams made on premise. You won’t be disappointed.

3. Tallaricos Chocolates has been in business since 2004. After an 11 year apprenticeship, Brian Tallrico decided it was time to start his own journey and passion in the business of chocolate confections. Having been raised in Italy and influenced by the many small businesses in his own family, Brian’s fascination for small shop owners contributed to his desire of being an entrepreneur. Tallarico Chocolates continues to produce the finest grade of chocolates, fresh caramel and unbelievable flavors that will have you coming back for more. Stop and say hi to Brian for a sample.

4. Dolce Palisserie is located in Hellertown. Chef Alan Picotti came back for his family and love for Lehigh Valley where he was raised as a boy. After years of studying and perfecting his culinary skills at places like Hotel Hersey and Le-Bec Fin in Philadelphia, Chef Alan decided to take his experiences and turn it into a thriving business. Chef Alan is famously known for his chocolates, pastries, and confections having just proven him to be a “Genius” on the Food Networks Sweet Genius Show. Don’t forget to call ahead to find out what Allan’s’ weekly specials and flavors are on hand.

5. Chocolates on Broadway has been making and selling chocolates since 1978. Located in Bangor, the facility built in 1906 retains its original candy store charm with stained glass windows, marble counters, glazed tile walls, tin ceilings, and hand painted murals. If you’re looking for old fashion personal attention with a dedicated family who takes personal pride in creating a real “homemade product”, check out Chocolates on Broadway. In addition, the family also recognizes that it may be tough to get to their store in Bangor, so they also sell their chocolates to retail businesses such as Wegmans, TJ Maxx, Century 21, Marshalls, and more!

In conclusion, on Valentine’s Day or any other holiday, it really should be all about the thought that counts. Imagine coming home with a box of chocolates from one of these locally family owned and operated shops. You’ll not only have a chance to meet the owners, but you’ll have a great story to tell about the history and making of your chocolates and treats. Knowing that extra TLC was poured into every box makes each bite more magical and tastier. Enjoy!