WILKES-BARRE —While Valentine’s Day and Christmas may come close, Easter is the top sales season, according to local confectioners.
“This area does a lot of chocolate filled baskets,” said Michael Mootz, owner of Michael Mootz Candies in Hanover Township.
With 65 locations throughout Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey, David Hawk, owner of Gertrude Hawk Chocolates, headquarter in Dunmore, agrees. For their eight stores in Luzerne County, Easter is their top sales holiday, he said. Outside of the Wilkes-Barre area Christmas is bigger.
Living up to the local demand, local chocolatiers begin making their Easter chocolates in February. This year, Easter is on April 20, and the cooler weather serves the best interests of the confectioners.
“We start making Easter candy as soon as Valentine’s Day is over,” said Lynn Young, with Jon Stopay Candies in Plains Township.
Mootz said weather plays an important factor as well. Snowy days will have a detrimental effect on business but so does warmer weather.
“People have more of an appetite for chocolate when the weather is cooler,” Mootz said. “When the temperature is warmer, people want something light and refreshing.”
Locally, Mootz has seen a trend to personalize chocolates for Easter. Chocolate shapes such as skateboards and Easter greeting chocolate bars are often sought after.
“We have a total of 150 different chocolate images for Easter,” Mootz said.
Young, Mootz, and Hawk all agree the traditional images of bunnies, crosses and eggs are the top sellers in the Wyoming Valley.
Hawk added, once they had an image of a chocolate cross on the cover of a flyer and customers in Rochester, N.Y., were offended. The crosses were removed from the cover of the flyer, he said.
“This area (the Wyoming Valley) is considerably religious,” Hawk said.
Flavors can dictate sales too. Young said their top selling flavor is milk chocolate covering peanut butter chiffon. This year, Young said, they will be introducing a new flavor, a crunchy peanut butter chiffon.
Smidgens, in any flavor, are the top selling item for Gertrude Hawk, but Hawk said the top selling flavor is peanut butter covered in chocolate and solid milk chocolate. This year, Hawk said they are introducing a new Smidgen flavor - tropical.
A caramel and crushed pretzel patty is often a customer favorite, Mootz said.
As the holiday edges closer, all the chocolatiers are seeing an increase in business.
“The week before Easter we are inundated,” Young said.
Mootz said they are seeing Easter shoppers now but note their busiest time will be the 10 days before the holiday.