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The story behind those chocolate-covered strawberries at Kilwins Babylon

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Kilwins owner John Murray, III, takes great pride in the size and freshness of his strawberries.

That’s why every year in the run-up to Valentine’s Day, he wakes up before dawn and treks to Hunts Point Produce Market to hand-pick the berries himself.

There, in The Bronx, you can find Murray in his little truck, surrounded by tractor trailers from as far away as Pennsylvania.

“It’s the biggest produce market in the tristate area, and I pick out the best,” Murray said. “And because I’m getting them directly from the wholesale, it doesn’t get any fresher; they’re not sitting on shelves for days, or in a warehouse somewhere with a middle man.

“When we put them in the fridge we can actually smell the fields they’re picked from.”

Murray does it all because he believes your sweetheart deserves the sweetest.

It also helps that he has American’s finest chocolate on hand for dipping.

Combine the best berries with the best chocolate, and that’s why people trek to Kilwins Babylon each year to line up for Murray’s chocolate covered strawberries that are absolutely bursting with flavor.

“This is Kilwins’ heritage chocolate, blended in Michigan. And it’s all fair trade so we’re supporting cocoa farmers at the equator,” he explained.

Kilwins’ chocolate covered berries come in dark, white chocolate and milk chocolate, or a combination of two types of chocolates through a little drizzle. You can mix and match the chocolates or the size of the strawberries you want, Murray says.

“If you want all huge berries, we can give you that, or some huge, some medium,” he said.

Murray sells them by the pound. Among all the fine confections Kilwins offers for Valentine’s day, the chocolate covered strawberries outsell them all.

“They have been our biggest seller, by far, for almost 10 years,” he said. “Strawberries reign supreme.”

Especially with that presentable Kilwins black-and-white packaging.

Your special someone will know you didn’t skimp.

If you go

Kilwins Babylon is located 130 Deer Park Ave. in Babylon. For those who live farther east, there’s also a location that Murray runs in Patchogue at 74 East Main St. Their hours are dramatically extended for Valentine’s Day. Call the Babylon shop at 631-482-8551 or 631- 627-8584 for Patchogue for updated hours.

Scroll down for some courtesy strawberry photos from John Murray.