Here's a Valentine's trifle for you. Much as I love fine chocolate--and there's so much to be had these days!--people who know me know about the soft spot See's occupies in my heart.
It's not so much their chocolate (I believe they use Guittard, which I find perfectly fine) that speaks to me. It's the brown sugar grainy filling of their Butterscotch Square, and the Apricot Bonbon's bright yellow fondant that is so sweet it almost--almost!--hurts my teeth before giving way to a slightly tart apricot filling. It's the sprinkles on the round Bordeaux and rectangular Mocha bonbons. It's the unlikely height of the Scotchmallows. And the four-in-a-cup crispness of Molasses Chips.
But it's much more. It's the spic and span white and black of their floors, counters, boxes, and uniforms. That white and black that never changes, and never goes out of style.
It's their slogan 'A Happy Habit', that seems to run directly counter to today's tendency to think of foods as naughty or guilt-inducing.
It's the free samples they give out to all who visit, and always with a smile. Even when it's a group of three teenagers who probably aren't buying anything. Or an old man who's picking up a box for his wife and gratefully accepts his prize, even when it's not his favorite.
And yesterday it was because it was the day before Valentine's Day. My local See's was full of men, apparently buying chocolates for their loves. I noticed one guy, paying, who looked as if he wished he didn't have to be there. But the man in front of me was picking out chocolates for a box, and smiling to himself after each selection. And the man behind me asked for the largest heart box, pulled a sheet of paper out of his pocket, and began making his choices. It was the See's cheat sheet, marked up with felt pens circling various types. I don't know if he'd made himself notes (I like to think Pavel has a list somewhere of all my favorites!), or if his wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, mother, father, or child had given him the sheet. Probably just to be helpful.
I know a lot of people don't like Valentine's Day. But yesterday, as I stood in the See's line watching other people carefully select chocolates for people they love, celebrating being loved and being in love seemed like a good idea. The best idea there is.
Here's to love and chocolate!