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If candy is your choice for Valentine's Day giving, Franklin County offers an array of handmade treats that are unique to the small shops where they are manufactured and sold.

Olympia Candy Kitchen

Olympia Candy Kitchen has been pleasing the public for decades with its sweet treats, starting with its original Chambersburg location at 43 S. Main St. and later adding a second shop at 13154 Pennsylvania Ave. in Hagerstown, Maryland.

Third-generation chocolatier Tony Pananes owns and operates today’s Olympia Candy Kitchen, which was founded in 1903 by a Greek immigrant. “In 1919, my grandfather and uncle bought it,” said Pananes, who says that little has changed over the years. “We fine-tuned and honed the recipes, but we never cheapened up a recipe and we never will,” he said.

Other Olympia specialties include a variety of kettle-cooked caramels, from plain to milk and dark chocolate and sea salt varieties. “Our pecan selections are also popular and range from turtles to pecan rolls with caramel and pecan caramels,” said Pananes, adding that another customer favorite is the store’s chocolate-covered pretzels.

In response to customer demand, chocolate-covered strawberries are available for Valentine’s Day. “We started selling them for Valentine’s Day about six or seven years ago. Before that we only offered them on Mother's Day,” said Pananes.

For those who prefer a Valentine’s Day candy custom assortment, the store is prepared for the holiday with what Pananes describes as “tons and tons” of heart boxes that they will fill with customer-selected favorites. Pananes also offers Valentine’s candies in one pound and half-pound bags. Cherry Juju hearts, cinnamon jelly hearts and red-foiled chocolate hearts are also popular, along with a variety of peanut butter candy like poppers and peanut butter cups. Grab-and-go items include pre-filled Valentine’s Day hearts. “They are made with a fresh assortment of our chocolate,” said Pananes.

Although Pananes has generally kept the tried-and-true formula that is attributed to the longevity of the business, he has agreed to one important change to keep up with the times, now offering his candy online. So if you’d rather order from the comfort of your own home, or your sweetheart lives out of town, a Valentine’s Day gift to show your love is just a few clicks away at www.olympiacandy.net/.

Olympia Candy Kitchen, 43 S. Main St., Chambersburg, 717-263-3282; 13154 Pennsylvania Ave., Hagerstown, Maryland, 301-739-0221; hours at both locations: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.

Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium

You’ve likely heard the phrase, “As excited as a kid in a candy store.” If you visit Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium in Orrtanna, you may wonder if a visit to Ed’s inspired the expression.

The family-owned operation appeals to both young and old and is popular not only for its candy, but also for its huge collection of elephants and elephant memorabilia. On any day, visitors are likely to encounter smiling, wide-eyed children who are thrilled with the prospect of being plopped into the middle of the candy/elephant extravaganza.

It started in 1975, when a creative, quirky entrepreneur named Ed Gotwalt decided to open what quickly became a gathering place for locals. Today, people come from miles around to see the local curiosity, which is now run by Ed’s granddaughter, Nicole Bucher, and her husband, Isaac.

Visitors can choose from among 700 varieties of candy while strolling among the humungous collection of elephants. “We have a little over 12,000 on display and double that in storage,” said Isaac.

For Valentine’s Day, Mister Ed’s has all the basics like conversation hearts, jelly hearts and a wide variety of chocolates. And if you happen to love your co-workers enough, you might consider picking up tub or two for sharing.

Ed’s is also known for its homemade fudge. “We make 100 different flavors of fudge in-house. For Valentine’s Day, we are featuring a cherry cordial fudge, amaretto, chocolate swirl,” said Isaac, adding that a new flavor will be debuting in the next week called "Chocolate Decadence."

“It’s dark chocolate on the bottom with a middle layer of milk chocolate, cookie crunch and malted milk and topped with mini-chocolate chips,” he said.

The trip to Mister Ed’s Elephant Museum is a scenic one, and they’re open seven days a week, including Valentine’s Day, so if you’re in the mood to treat your sweetheart or your family to a Valentine’s Day road trip, Isaac, Nicole and staff will be waiting and ready to turn your sweet dreams into reality.

Mr. Ed’s Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium, 6019 Chambersburg Road, Orrtanna, 717-352-3792; hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday- Sunday.

And more ...

You can find a selection of homemade candy at the following places as well:

Zoe’s Chocolate Co., run by third generation chocolatiers, has locations at 34 E. Main St., Waynesboro, 717-387-5882; and 121A N. Market St., Frederick, Maryland, 301-694-5882. Their chocolate has been featured in a wide variety of publications. Open 9:30 a.m.- 5 p.m. Monday- Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.

The Lollipop Shop, 112 E. King St., Shippensburg, 717-530-1272. The Lollipop Shop is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday- Saturday, with extended hours through 7 p.m. for Valentines’ week.

Nathan Miller Chocolate, 130 N. Third St., Ste. 3, Chambersburg, 717-496-8229, offers an array of handmade treats for your Valentine. Nathan Miller specializes in handmade, hand-wrapped chocolate bars. Open 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Sunday.

Candy Kitchen, 12 E. Main St., Waynesboro, 717-762-3969.  Candy Kitchen offers sea-salt caramels, truffles and more. This family owned institution relies on tried-and-true recipes passed down through generations. Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

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