Love it? Hate it? Just eat it

Betsy PickleOur Town Stories

In less than three weeks, a day that strikes dread into roughly half the population will arrive: Feb. 14. Valentine’s Day. The ultimate Hallmark holiday.


Some people resent being pressured into celebrating a made-up holiday. Those who aren’t in a romantic relationship don’t want to be pigeonholed as singletons or pitied by their coupled friends.

Thumbprints at The Village Bakery

Those who are in relationships stress out over how much of a fuss to make. What if they go to elaborate lengths, and their partner buys them a card? Will it ruin the day, the night, their future?

KnoxTNToday wants to reassure you that you can handle Valentine’s Day no matter what your situation. The day is all about love, right? So whether you love your mother or your sweetheart or your furry best friend, it’s going to be OK.

As Americans, we love to eat our way out of stress. (Sad, but true.) So look at it this way: Valentine’s Day is a perfect excuse to visit one of your favorite bakeries or check out a new one. It’s easy to buy multiples at a bakery, so if you’re planning to fly solo on Feb. 14 but someone surprises you with a lovely gift, you can be prepared.

And if no one does, you’ve got treats for yourself. Win-win.

For example, The Village Bakery in South Knoxville is famous for its thumbprint cookies and petit fours. And guess what? They make them in Valentine colors – pink and red!

James Shelton

“Thumbprints, we usually roll about 100 dozen a day,” says James Shelton, who runs the bakery with his mother, Tina. That pace starts in January. It doesn’t hurt that they put thumbprint cookies on sale in January for $4 a dozen.

“He’s messing with people’s dieting,” says Tina Shelton. “That’s exactly what he’s doing. Because, you’ll notice, if you go by the gyms right now, they’re covered up. So that’s what he does; he messes with people on the diets.”

“We just try and keep our holiday help,” James counters.

At Rita’s Bakery in the Smithwood/Fountain City area, petit fours and white, pink and red thumbprint cookies are also popular, and they make about 96 dozen a day. Rita’s also makes 4-inch heart-shaped cakes.

“Those are always sweet for two people to share,” says Sara Patterson, daughter-in-law of the bakery’s namesake, Rita Patterson. And the bakery will do “anything with hearts and red.”

Cookie purchases at Litton’s will support Fountain City Lake.

Litton’s Restaurant in Fountain City is beloved for its cheesecake, but everything from its bakery is yummy. Litton’s is showing some love for Fountain City Lake by selling special red bags of cookies and giving the proceeds to the Lions Club.

Bakery chief Lynda Jones will have strawberry cheesecake ready for customers who want Valentine treats to top off their meal, owner Barry Litton says.

At Magpies in Downtown North, owner Elizabeth Smith is going with both old and new.

“We’re doing some sweetie cakes – perfect for two,” says Smith, who took over Magpies from her aunt, Margaret Hambright, at the beginning of 2018. “We’ll have sweetie cheesecakes, too.”

Magpies can do the cakes in any flavor, but they’re featuring pucker-up lemon raspberry, chocolate-covered strawberry and a couple of other flavors. The cheesecakes will come in strawberry and chocolate raspberry. Customers can order them starting Feb. 1, but they’ll be regular items in the bakery by the second week of February.

The big news at Magpies is macarons. Smith has been practicing and perfecting her recipe for several months, and she’s finally pleased with her results.

“They are tough little cookies,” she says of the trendy delicacy. Chocolate raspberry and chocolate-covered strawberry are the two main flavors.

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