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Sweet treats for Valentine’s Day from Queen City Cupcakes. Courtesy photo.




Treats and sweets
The ebb and flow of Valentine gift trends

02/12/15
By Allie Ginwala aginwala@hippopress.com



When it comes to finding a sweet gift for your loved one on Valentine’s Day, the options might seem endless, but local businesses that make tasty treats say certain trends in what men and women want help them plan their holiday offerings.

Chelsea Stoddard, owner of Queen City Cupcakes in Manchester, put together a Valentine’s Day menu with 12 cupcakes all dressed up for the day of love. 
“We definitely have certain flavors that tend to be more male or female,” Stoddard said in a phone interview. 
While there are those who break the mold, she notices a lot of guys enjoy coffee mud pie, peanut butter cup and “Hostess” cupcakes, where women tend to favor red velvet, strawberry kiss and chocolate on chocolate.
Often she’ll have customers go for a variety pack of four or six cupcakes so they can have a couple of flavors for their partner. 
“Hopefully they know the flavors that their loved one likes,” she said. 
A lot of times she’ll have men come in with wish lists to help guide their selection. Sometimes, however, shoppers are at a loss. In those cases, Goddard suggests a four pack of different flavors. Her recommendation includes chocolate salted caramel, Hostess (chocolate cake filled with marshmallow frosting), vanilla bean and raspberry lemon. 
“If you don’t know what someone wants you’ll probably hit it in there,” she said. 
Goddard said cupcakes are a fairly non-traditional Valentine gift. 
“If you’re looking for a sweet treat it’s a little different … [and more fun] than the typical candy, flowers.”
While enjoying a fun flavored cupcake is perfect for some, others want nothing more than to be presented with a traditional box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day. Jeffrey Bart, owner of Granite State Candy Shoppe in Concord, said heart-shaped boxes of assorted chocolates are their No. 1 seller for the holiday. 
“We have them in a lot of different sizes and levels of fanciness,” he said in a phone interview. “From regular old assorted [chocolates] to truffles.”
Lately, Bart has noticed an uptick in more women coming in to shop for Valentine’s Day. 
“Years and years ago it was primarily men that would come in, and us men, the way we operate is we wait until the last possible minute and roll in here with a crazed look in our eyes,” he said. “We are seeing far more women coming in to buy for their significant other.”  
Bart said women buy boxes of chocolate, picking and choosing the assortment of milk, dark or white, and the big seller for the men continues to be chocolate dipped strawberries.
Bryson Perkins, creative director at Triolo’s Bakery in Bedford, agrees that when it comes to Valentine’s Day, women are now the top customers. 
“It’s a female holiday — females buying for other colleagues, for children, for their husbands,” Perkins said. 
Perkins learned recently from a study that said 85 percent of online consumers are women, which he said reflects what is seen at the bakery. (He also discovered that women tend to buy red more than pink.) But he also said that in his business, the largest demographic for those receiving the items that are bought for Valentine’s Day are the kids. 
“The younger demographic have the buying power,” he said, whether it’s parents shopping for their children or to bring to school to share. Because of the youngsters ruling the day, Perkins said his most popular items on Valentine’s Day are those that are small and quick. Triolo’s best Valentine sellers are cupcakes, with the cake pop trend still going strong. 
“Believe it or not, they are not dying,” he said. “We’re doing bear cakes pops. We also do cake pop bouquets.” 
Other scaled-down or sharable items are mini cupcakes, two-serving cakes and whoopie pie heart wreaths.
For many people, shopping for Valentine’s Day is unplanned. Perkins referred to it as “a CVS holiday or a Rite Aid holiday,” and Bart called it “one of those last-minute type holidays.” But local candy stores and bakeries are prepared to help customers find the perfect sweet treat — right up to the last minute. 
 
As seen in the February 12, 2015 issue of the Hippo.





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