Thu, 12 Feb 2004

Say 'I love you' with chocolate, red roses

Dewi Santoso, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

As Valentine's Day approaches right around the corner, chocolate and red rose sales has seen a significant increase.

Elena Martha, co-owner of the Okky & Paul Cake, Chocolate and Bakery Shop in Manggarai, South Jakarta, said on Wednesday that demand for sweets and chocolates had increased by 30 percent.

"I don't exactly know how many chocolates have been sold, but I'm now making about Rp 4 million (US$470) per day compared to the usual Rp 3 million," she told The Jakarta Post.

Her chocolate shop offers several varieties of chocolate, from unique small pieces shaped like roses, leaves, windmills and hearts pierced by an arrow, to beautifully carved large sculptures like the Eiffel Tower, cats, rabbits, penguins and owls.

"All the ingredients are from Indonesia, but the molds for the small pieces come from Belgium, as I'd spent some time studying there and I know where to find cute molds," she explained.

Offered in an array of flavors and colors -- milk and dark chocolates, as well as white and pink -- the chocolates sell for between Rp 3,000 to Rp 40,000.

Elena's shop also offers a special service -- as long as customers knew what kind of chocolate they wanted, her brother, Paul, makes a sample at no cost.

"If they like the sample and decide to place an order, then we provide a quotation," said Elena. The prices depend on the size and complexity involved in making the chocolates.

Chocolate is not the only item of choice considered by lovers planning to spend a romantic evening Valentine's Day, which falls this Saturday. Flowers, especially red roses, are among the top demands.

Lily Sumarsih, assistant marketing manager of Mangkurajo Fresh Flower Shop in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta, said orders for red roses had doubled to 140 bouquets, each containing 20 roses.

"Normally, we sell around 70 bouquets of red roses each day at Rp 75,000 each," said Lily. On the special day, the price would double to Rp 150,000.

The rise in chocolate and red rose sales shows that many people are maintaining the Valentine's Day tradition, even though it may be an imported tradition, and love is in the air across the capital.

As Richard, a 24-year-old college student, put it, "This is the first time I'm going to spend Valentine's Day with my girl ... so I think I'm going to give her something special, something like a box of chocolate and a red long-stemmed rose, just to make it a more romantic, memorable evening."