Every year at this time, Terry Burk stocks his shelves with thousands of pounds of springtime chocolate.
Rabbits, squirrels, chickens and eggs are crammed into the Treat Shop at Cranberry Mall in Westminster.
On one shelf alone, two chocolate bunnies -- each 30 inches tall -- would meet the caloric intake of one adult male for 10 days.
Easter sales account for 25 percent of his total sales -- more candy than any other holiday, Burk said.
Nationally, Christmas "outsweets"Easter for candy sales, says the National Candy Wholesalers Association in Washington.
This year, the group estimates every American will spend $4 to $6 on Easter candy, or $848 million.
Burk said last year was the first time he made the 30-inch bunnies in his chocolate factory. He sold about 10.
The largest bunny this year is hollowand made of white chocolate. It weighs 6 pounds, 5 ounces and costs $50.50.
Using a U.S. Department of Agriculture table that says an ounce of chocolate has 145 calories, the bunny has 14,645 calories.
"Eventually, they eat them," Burk said of the people who buy the tall bunnies. "I think adults eat 90 percent of the Easter candy boughtfor children."
A more popular size is an 18-inch, 3-pound rabbit,he said.
Burk and three employees began making the Easter chocolate right after Christmas. They used 10,000 pounds of chocolate, he said.
They cleared the shelves for Easter candy right after Valentine's Day.
But chocolate isn't the only thing filling up Easter baskets. Candy companies will make 100 million pounds of jelly beans -- or 13.5 billion individual beans -- to fill 3.5 million Easter baskets, the NCWA says.
At BJ's Bloomers in Carrolltowne Mall in Eldersburg, owner Joanne Ciepiela has an Easter mix of Jelly Bellies with 11 flavors in pastel colors.
The flavors are cantaloupe, lemon-lime, cream soda, island punch, tangerine, ice blue mint, cotton candy, pink grapefruit, pina colada, lemon and chocolate mint.
Ciepiela saidbaskets and bags she has already filled with various candies and novelties have been popular with busy customers.
"People are just in a hurry. They don't have time to fool with these things," she said.
Tone Sands, owner of Peppermint Mill Farm in 140 Village Shopping Center in Westminster, is selling the "wonder egg" this year.
The creation is solid chocolate inserted inside a real egg shell that has been plugged with sugar at one end. The eggs sell for $2.59 each.
Gingerbread cookies in egg and bunny shapes are new this year, too, she said.
Sands also has sugar-free candies for people who need to watch their intake of sweets.
Chocolate bunnies and eggs filled with chocolate nut fudge and peanut butter are on sale, she said.
Customers also can buy chocolate to melt and make their own candies, she said.
The three store owners said next week, particularly Fridayand Saturday, will be their biggest days.
Pat Wolf of Sykesville visited the Treat Shop last week to stock up on candy.
Her three children are in their 20s, but still demand chocolate rabbits, she said.
"Sweets are symbolic for Easter," she said.