Sanborn Candies in Hampton Offers Valentine's Day Treats

Local shop prepares treats for busy holiday

By Susan Morse

Hampton Union, February 12, 2008

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Heart-shaped boxes surround Sanborn's Fine Candies' owner Billie Sanborn Cooper, as she makes a sale on Friday in Hampton.
[John Carden photo]

Sanborn's Candies is a cornucopia of chocolate romance. Heart-shaped boxes decorated in red, pink and white surround the store. They hold melt-in-your-mouth confection that's also a feast for the eyes. As a gift, they deliver the instant, non-text message, "be my valentine."

This is one busy place.

Owner Bob Cooper expects even the seven-pound, $230 box of chocolate will sell by Thursday, Feb. 14.

"We sell one or two a year," Cooper said. "It will go on the 13th or 14th."

And yes, the buyer will likely be male.

"Some poor soul who's in trouble," he joked, or who wants to make a good impression on a woman.

"The early buyers are women, the last-minute buyers are men," said co-owner Billie Cooper, Bob's wife.

The biggest sellers for Valentine's Day are the cherry cordials and truffles.

People tend to shop for the holiday less than a week before, making it a busy time for the shop. Yet the romantic holiday ranks third for chocolate and candy sales. Christmas is number one, followed by Easter, said Bob Cooper.

Chocolate sales are also indicative of the state of the economy, as well as the heart. Sales have been off for a year or two compared to prior years, he said.

For health reasons, some people have switched to dark chocolate, said Billie Cooper, but milk chocolate is still the No. 1 seller. Dark chocolate, like red wine, contains antioxidants that are said to help protect the heart and lower cholesterol.

An estimated 40 percent of the chocolate sold in the Route 1 store is made out back by chocolatier Karen Macaskill.

For those who don't like chocolate, there are cashews in heart-shaped boxes, mints and various flavors of fudge for sale.

Bob and Billie Cooper have been running the business in town since 1983 and at the beach during summers since 1970 when saltwater taffy sales take over. The No. 1 best seller year round is the chocolate, caramel-filled paddy people call "turtles."

The couple started the business in-town farther north on Route 1, where Lena's Subs is now located. Sanborn's Candies is now just south of downtown between the Hampton Cinemas and Our Lady of Miraculous Medal Church.

On Friday, the Coopers will have a short break before gearing up chocolate bunny sales for Easter, which arrives relatively early this year on March 23.

Billie Sanborn Cooper of Sanborn's Fine Candies in Hampton attends to a Valentine's Day display on Friday.
[John Carden photo]