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CHOCOLATE WRAP-TURE

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The plot to break the Guinness World Record for the largest chocolate bar is getting thicker. The record holder is a Novi bar weighing 5,026 pounds, made for the Eurochocolate 2000 exhibition in Turin, Italy. Attempting to unseat that distinction is Schakolad Chocolate Factory, a Winter Park venture, started in 1995 by father and son founders Bernie and Edgar Schaked, now an international franchise (www.schakolad.com). Bernie is the master chocolatier and Edgar handles the business, and there's a reason their craft has been so successful: The chocolate is a pure, unadulterated pleasure. And in the old days, watching Bernie fussily melt and mold his medium was like watching a master artist at work.

Sweetening the pot, the proposed 5,500-pound chocolate bar (give or take a few bites) will be broken down and sold chunk by chunk to benefit the American Red Cross of Central Florida. And that'll occur right after the record is authenticated at noon Jan. 29 in Center Court of the Fashion Square Mall.

Until the final weigh-in, the Center Court will be the assembly site, where volunteers from the Red Cross will be on hand, selling tickets to its "Rhapsody in Red"-themed Valentine's Rendezvous fund-raiser (7 p.m. Feb. 12 at Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel; 407-894-4141, ext. 5608; $130).

While it might sound fat-American-ish, buying and eating even a small part of this quarter-ton confection will help victims of disasters, especially those still recovering from our spate of hurricanes last fall. And if you want to make a pig of yourself, no one's going to object at all. After all, giving a piece of a world-record chocolate bar packaged in a specially provided commemorative box would make a Valentine's gift to relish, treasure or sell on eBay.

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