This year more than ever, people are saying "I love you" with chocolate on Valentine's Day.

Local candymakers say they are scrambling to fill all the orders coming in as the pandemic rages and people decide to stay in rather than go out for a night on the town.

And when it comes to treats, chocolate-covered strawberries top the list.

"Chocolate-covered strawberries are my best seller this year," said Sharon D. Jackson, owner of online seller SDJ Sweet Treats in Baton Rouge. "Chocolate candy is always the top seller, but everyone's ordering the strawberries."

"Definitely chocolate strawberries," added Amanda Schonberg, owner of Chef Schonberg's Sweets. "That's what everyone is looking for this year for Valentine's."

Schonberg said the pandemic has been a boon to her business, which she opened five years ago in Baton Rouge.

"Our business doubled during the pandemic. People started searching for delivery options, and 80% of our orders are deliveries," Schonberg said. "We're usually delivering packages from moms to students with kids in college at LSU and SU, and we have a lot of corporate clients. We offer contactless delivery, and they appreciate that."

Tonya Smith, owner of Baton Rouge-based internet candy store 225sweets.com, also puts the chocolate-covered berries at the top of her best-sellers list.

And, while strawberries are hot, the candy makers have lots of other offerings that are sure to please your Valentine.

Jackson said her customers also love her "breakable hearts," which are chocolate hearts that, when you break them open, spill out a variety of candy.

"People are also ordering our cocoa bombs, and our chocolate-dipped pretzels are popular," said Jackson, who has been in business since 2018.

For those looking to add a touch of naughtiness to the romantic holiday, Schonberg's Menage a Trois cookie platter is a popular treat.

"It's a signature menu item for us," she said. "It's a dozen of three different kinds of cookies for $24. We also have other candies with erotic names. We call them 'sweets with adults in mind.'"

Other naughty treats are Naked Cookies and the Red Light Special Box, which includes milk chocolate strawberries decorated with chocolate candies and crushed walnut pieces.

"Our Champagne kisses cupcake and strawberry cake topped by our Champagne butter cream icing and a fresh strawberry are also best sellers," Schonberg said.

Smith said orders have been rolling in at 225 Sweets, a business established in 2016 by her then 14-year-old daughter Paige Antoine.

Antoine was selling miniature Bundt cakes at the time in her dad's barbershop. She eventually started making flavored popcorn, which sparked the internet business.

Now she's 18, and she and Smith are in business together taking orders for chocolate strawberries and lots more.

"Our chocolate pretzel sticks are also popular for Valentine's, and our cookie boxes with cookies dipped in red with white drizzles are big sellers, along with our turtle cookies," she said. "We sell the cookies two dozen at a time."

And then there's their flavored popcorn, which comes with customized labels for Valentine's Day.

"You can order the popcorn with your sweetheart's name on the label for a Valentine's gift," Smith said.

Smith is a regular at the Mid City Makers Markets. She also delivers orders placed within the Baton Rouge area.

For those looking for a "nutty" Valentine's confection, Pointe Coupee Pecan, pcpecan.com, in Port Allen has you covered.

"When it's Valentine's, people are looking for chocolate, and we have our chocolate-coated pecans," co-owner Myles Bergeron said. "We offer them in milk chocolate and dark chocolate, and we also offer milk chocolate almonds."

The chocolate pecans are sold in gift tins and also can be purchased in combination tins that include sugarcoated and roasted pecans.

Pointe Coupee Pecan, in business since 1990, also offers spicy pecans and pecan oil, Bergeron said.

"A lot of people are cooking from home because of the pandemic, and they're looking for a healthy oil to cook with," he said. "Pecan oil is a good, healthy gourmet oil, and we've had a lot of orders for that."


Email Robin Miller at romiller@theadvocate.com