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by Tara Fasol
SouthernIllinoisan.com

Hearts and roses, love poems and songs – there are dozens of ways to say “I love you” on Valentine’s Day, but perhaps none quite as traditional as chocolate, diamonds and flowers.

“You just can’t go wrong with chocolate,” said Linda Meherg, owner of The Chocolate Factory in Golconda.

Meherg and her family don’t simply make chocolates; they make creative and memorable gifts. Chocolate roses, the word love spelled out in large chocolate letters and chocolate hearts that can be personalized are some popular items, Meherg said, although her biggest ticket items are still the assorted boxes.

Meherg said she even has a little something special for those ready to pop the big question.

“We’ve had people do this little chocolate box and they put the ring inside of it,” she said. “There are some men that come in here and they are really good shoppers. They come and in and they look around. Most guys will just come in and go right up the counter and point and say, ‘I’ll take some of that.’ But, there are some that are good shoppers.”

For those wanting to stray from the traditional heart-shaped box of chocolates, chocolate golf bags, golf balls, doctor’s equipment, high-heeled shoes and other career- and hobby-oriented goodies are also available to add a little creativity to gift-giving.

Steve McNeill at Diamond Designs, on North Carbon Street in Marion, said all good gifts don’t necessarily have to be edible.

“A really popular item for us has been the Troll Beads,” he said. “They are bracelets that are designed by Danish artists and each one has a story. They are Murano glass and sterling silver.”

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