When Your Sweet Tooth Calls

With Easter just around the corner, here’s a tip: Skip the drug store this year. South Jersey is dripping in hand-made, oh-so-sweet chocolate.

Whether you want milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, or sugar free, you can pick up high-quality chocolate at some great spots around the region.

Here are a few reader favorites:

Aunt Charlotte’s Candies, Merchantville (www.auntcharlottescandy.com, 856-662-0058): The son of Aunt Charlotte’s founder was named Bunny, but that’s not the only reason this Merchantville store is the root of traffic jams around Easter. “Best jelly beans ever. People who like Jelly Belly are seriously deluded,” says Kim Malecka, who grew up in Haddonfield. “My mom has gone to Aunt Charlotte’s for as long as I can remember.  My sister and I each get a chocolate shell egg with our name on it in green sugar, smaller solid chocolate eggs, and two bags of jelly beans.”

Bayard’s Chocolates, Cherry Hill, Cinnaminson, and Pennsauken (www.bayardschocolates.com, 856-663-7776): Like Tevye says in Fiddler on the Roof, Bayard’s is all about “tradition” for Sally Friedman of Moorestown. “We used to take the kids there, and it just has — ahem – sweet memories.” Bayard’s, which has been hand making and dipping its chocolate treats since 1939, is also where my mom got my brother and I white chocolate bunnies for our Easter baskets.

The Candy Box, Richwood (www.richwoodcandybox.com, 856-589-0317): This family-run store opened its doors in the 1950s and, even though out of the way, has a lot of fans. “The Candy Box is on a small country road and looks like you’ve stepped back in time,” says Patricia Quigley of Mantua, who recommends the almond bark. “Depending on the time of year, there’s a stand with baskets of fresh fruit outside, too. A real-mom-and pop place.”
 
Duffy’s Delicious Candies, Gloucester City (www.duffyscandies.com, 856-456-2955): This small shop in Gloucester City has been serving hand-made chocolates since 1950, and their sweet treats are still made in small batches to assure quality. “They have the best chocolate covered pretzels,” says Jen Gertel of Laurel Springs. It’s a Gertel family tradition to buy boxes for each other at the holidays. (I don’t blame them. I snacked on a few of their milk chocolate Easter egg candies as I wrote this).

Jagielky’s, Ventnor and Margate (www.jagielkys.com, 609-823-6501): Jagielky’s been making candy down the shore since 1972, and the recipes are still top-secret stuff. “My favorites are the chocolate covered raspberry jellies and the rocky road candy,” says Beth Ann Rachkis of Haddon Township. “I think the chocolate jellies are a throwback candy. I think it’s only me and a few old people like them. They aren’t on the menu at many candy shops anymore.  The best ones have the right combination of rich smooth dark chocolate with slightly tart raspberry jelly.”

So what’s your favorite go-to spot for chocolate?

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