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Lovefest with chocolate
Day of love triggers candy, gift sales
Vishal Mittal carries a tray of chocolate covered apples to the display case at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory on Friday. The candied apples were snapped up by customers in less than a minute. - photo by HIME ROMERO
For Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory owner Vinnie Bhan, Valentine’s Day serves up an extra sweet helping of business that equated to a cash register ringing nonstop almost all day.

While he typically opens the doors to his downtown Manteca business in the 300 block of East Yosemite at 11 a.m., Bhan was shocked to find people already waiting at 9:30 a.m. on Friday to get their hands on the tasty treats that they had planned on giving to loved ones.

Things didn’t slow down all day – with more than 500 candy apples sold before 3 p.m. and dozens of custom orders handed out containing everything from chocolate covered strawberries to dipped rice crispy treats.

“We are very appreciative of the people who are coming out and supporting us,” Bhan said of the wave of customers that seemed endless. “We are very grateful of the people of Manteca who have just been so accepting – it’s made it a really great day for us.”

According to Bhan, the chocolate dipped strawberries were the big seller this year, and the individual candy apples that include flavors like toffee and Butterfinger were flying out of the case all day.

“We’ve already sold more than 500 apples, and we’re back there making more right now,” Bhan said. “We started getting ready for this last night because we knew that there would be customers, but I didn’t think it was going to be like this.”

Over on North Main Street in front of the Moose Lodge, Sherrie Stanley braved the unusually wet afternoon under a tent filled with her homemade Valentine’s Day baskets – featuring classic staples like teddy bears, bath and shower products, and different varieties of candy.

She also had an ample supply of roses for those looking to take the traditional route to show their love.

“We’ve been doing well today – people seem to like it because it’s drive-up and we’ve got reasonable prices,” she said. “I’ve been out here on Valentine’s Day for the last eight years, and it’s always been a good place because the people are really supportive.”

And one lucky girl in Manteca is going to receive a Valentine’s Day present unlike any other thanks to a creative and brave admirer who spent his Friday afternoon making a sign in pink ribbon on the chain-link safety fence on top of the Louise Avenue bridge over Highway 99 – eventually getting it to read “I (heart) U Kiara” and is visible for northbound traffic passing underneath.