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'Art and food' -- Homegrown chocolatiers offer Dickinson a unique Valentine treat.

If you know your Valentine has a sweet tooth, you can go for something classic like candy hearts and Hallmark cards, or something more trendy and unique like a shoe. Yes, you read that right -- a shoe. It's sweeter than it sounds.

“This red shoe reminds me of my mom," Christina Simon said. Submitted photo
“This red shoe reminds me of my mom," Christina Simon said. Submitted photo

If you know your Valentine has a sweet tooth, you can go for something classic like candy hearts and Hallmark cards, or something more trendy and unique like a shoe. Yes, you read that right - a shoe. It's sweeter than it sounds.

Dickinson's C&K Sweet Shoppe and Coffee, located at 2169 Second Ave. W., has an array of delicacies that can tickle even the hardest heart to joy this Valentine's Day. Among them are high-heeled chocolate stilettos with the customer's choice of either chocolate-dipped strawberries or homemade truffles.

The selection at the shop isn't a one-size-fits-all approach. Rather, each product has its own unique flair that speaks directly to certain customers.

"Every shoe reminds you of someone. My great grandmother used to do quilts and there was always someone, by the time it was done, that it was just perfect for," Christina Simon, owner of the C&K Sweet Shoppe and Coffee, said. "This red shoe reminds me of my mom. In the 80s, my mother had this bright red blouse and black leather jacket. She rocked that outfit and that red shoe with the black lace just reminds me so much of my mom."

The company has grown exponentially since the family moved from Wyoming to Texas and, finally, to Dickinson.

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"We started out in e-commerce online through Etsy," Simon said. "Thirty minutes after opening our online store way back then, we had orders and ever since, it just never stopped."

After moving to Dickinson, Rob and Christina Simon and their daughter, Kimberleigh Gaylord, said they wanted to move into a brick and mortar building and were elated when one came available. Now fully embroiled in their busiest season, the homegrown chocolatiers said it is a pleasure to see the joy on people's faces when they first take a bite of their confectionery.

"It'll be busy through Friday and Saturday, but it's worth every second when you see the delight our products bring the community," Christina Simon said. "The inspirations for our designs come from a combination of our own unique ideas and those we find on Pinterest and Facebook."

The process of bringing bricks of quality chocolate or candy meld to a finished product is a labor-intensive, lengthy affair.

The process begins by melting chocolate and candied bricks in an oven before pouring the melted chocolate into the magnetized molds. Once the mold is filled, the entire thing is swirled around to ensure an even coat throughout. The mold then sits at room temperature for a period of time before being refrigerated for a half hour. The final step involves a bit of nimbleness and a "really fine paring knife" in a dance that is a trade secret at C&K.

That entire process makes a single product, yet the store boasts such a large selection that it's a wonder there are enough hours in the day.

"We are up and running from 4:30 a.m. until well after 6 p.m. daily," said Christina Simon.

As to their most popular Valentine's item, the stiletto, Gaylord said was a mélange of "art and food."

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"The molding lines vanish either by cutting away and smoothing, or in the case of our stilettos, most of the covering comes through the process of decorating them to a point where you don't really see it," she said.

Christina added, "It's both an art and a food, in the end it gets eaten either way."

The Sweet Shoppe boasts more than two thousand molds, with styles for every season. The shop boasts molds for each of the NFL teams, Easter, Christmas and more. C&K has even ventured into the wedding and birthday arena, making toppers for cakes.

"Out of our two to three thousand molds, we spent more on the stiletto mold than we have on any other single mold," Christina Simon said. "We've had this mold for two or three years and it's been a really popular addition to our selection for Valentine's."

Rob Simon said that his favorite item is still the classic chocolate-covered bacon.

The C&K Sweet Shoppe and Coffee extends an invitation to the community to stop by their shop and peruse the many delicacies on sale, from chocolate-covered bacon and cupcakes to chocolate-covered wine bottles and chilli.

"If you've never stopped by the shop before, you'll be pleasantly surprised," Christina Simon said. "From breakfast and coffee to our chocolate, we'll be there for you."

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