If red is the color of Valentine’s Day, chocolate is its flavor. Chocolate is the gift of choice that symbolizes love on the day dedicated to lovers.

In the United States alone, people spend more than $2.5 billion on chocolates on or before February 14, industry analysts say. That includes more than 38 million heart-shaped boxes with treats made from dark, milk, and white cacao-derived sweets.

The connection between St. Valentine’s Day and love dates to a poem Geoffrey Chaucer wrote in the late 1300s, historians say. About that time, Aztecs in modern-day Mexico celebrated chocolate made from native beans as a gift from the gods. Their ruler swilled it as an aphrodisiac.

An English chocolatier, Richard Cadbury, is credited with marketing the first heart-shaped box of his company’s chocolates for Valentine’s gifts, in 1868. The Cadbury brothers were true visionaries—they created the bites to use up cocoa butter left from producing drinking chocolate, which was very popular in England.

Valentine-themed chocolates are everywhere now, but not all are created equal. You generally get what you pay for. Premium small-batch chocolates made with world-class ingredients will outshine mass-market brands.

And if the treats are made in your town, you deserve extra brownie points. Check out these premium chocolatiers from around Alabama.


Chocolata (Birmingham)

Kathy D’Agostino uses cocoa ethically sourced from farms in Latin America for her handmade chocolates. They come in whimsical shapes like frogs and mushrooms, in flavors from dark chocolate to dulce de leche. Gift boxes include the four-piece “4 My Valentine” ($14), as well as nine-, 15- and 36-piece assortments ($28-$126). Preorder Valentine’s boxes for pickup February 7-14. You’ll probably need to set your GPS maps locator to find it, but it’s worth the search.

701 37th Street South


Kilwins (Hoover)

Hoover is the only Alabama outpost for this 77-year-old Michigan-based chocolate, fudge, and ice cream maker. But franchises also are in just-over-the-border cities Pensacola (Florida) and Columbus (Georgia). Boxed chocolate collections include cream, sea salt, and sugar-free, as well as assorted flavors and fillings. The truffles and chocolate bars look tempting, too. Several Valentine’s assortments ($16.99-$131.99) come in heart-shaped boxes. Chocolates are just the start of the sweets at Kilwins. Shipping is available.

5220 Peridot Place


Peterbrooke (Vestavia Hills, Tuscaloosa)

The 40-year-old franchise, based in Jacksonville, Florida, has two stores in Alabama. The company specializes in small-batch European-style artisan chocolates, including truffles, cherry cordials, and chocolate-dipped fruits, popcorn, and pretzels. They’re combined in several Valentine’s packages with heart-shaped and decorative boxes as well as themed buckets ($13-$150). Shipping is available for online orders.

3112 Heights Village (Cahaba Heights)

1530 McFarland Boulevard North (Tuscaloosa)


Pizzelle’s Confections (Huntsville)

The self-proclaimed “chocolate witches” at Pizzelle’s conjure confections that are a treat for the eyes as well as the tastebuds. Co-owners and sisters Michelle Novosel and Caitlin Lyon are certified professional chocolatiers, and Novosel even instructs culinary students in the art and craft. Pizzelle’s, which opened in 2013, sells colorful chocolates in various shapes and designs, large bonbons, and chocolate bars (boxes are $6.90-$75.90). Order ahead for local pickup, or have them shipped.

2211 Seminole Drive


Three Georges Fine Southern Chocolates (Mobile)

Three Georges has satisfied Mobile’s sweet tooth since 1917, when George Pappolampourous, George Pope, and George Spero opened their downtown lunch counter and candy store. The building where the store is located, at Dauphin and Joachim streets, dates back more than 150 years, to 1866. In addition to boxes and cans with chocolate-covered nuts or pretzels, it sells sets of assorted chocolates (even sugar-free), cordials, and turtles ($19.95-$56.95). Shipping is available via online orders.

226 Dauphin Street