Love is in the air . . . and it's in the form of a big fat chocolate-covered strawberry.

Valentine's Day is the fourth most popular candy holiday -- following Halloween, Easter, and the winter holidays (Christmas & Hanukah) -- according to the National Confectioners Association, with more than $1 billion in sales. (About 75 percent of that is chocolate.) More than 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate will be sold for Valentine's Day. (Remember you give confections for taste, not originality.)

The most popular non-chocolate candy for Valentine's Day is the always-chatty conversation hearts. Necco manufactures 8 billion a year, the majority of which are sold during the six-week period between Jan. 1 and Valentine's Day.

BE MINE QT

-- Janelle Erlichman

From top left: Cinnamon nonpareil hearts ($3.50 a bag), at Chocolate Moose, 1800 M St. NW. Small Godiva heart-shaped box filled with truffles ($42), at Hecht's. Red and silver Hershey Kisses ($2.50 a bag), at area drugstores. SweeTart Hearts ($1.29 a bag), at area drugstores. Gift-wrapped chocolates ($12.99 a pound), at Chocolate Chocolate, 1050 Connecticut Ave. NW. White Satin Lace Heart filled with 'X's,' 'O's,' and lips at Ethel M. at Tysons Corner Center. Red raspberry gel hearts ($3.50 a bag), at Chocolate Moose. Valentine Peanut M&M's ($2.50 a bag), at area drugstores. Kiss Me Frogs ($4 for three), at Chocolate Chocolate. Large Godiva heart-shaped box filled with truffles ($60), at Hecht's. Tart marshmallow hearts ($4 a bag), at Chocolate Moose. French peanuts ($6.98 a pound), at Chocolate Chocolate. Black Satin Boxers filled with chocolate ($40), at Ethel M. at Tysons Corner Center. Chocolate pucker pop ($1), at Chocolate Moose. Large conversation hearts (.79 a bag) at area drugstores. Various Russell Stover chocolates ($1.49-$16.99 a box), at area drugstores. Mini cinnamon red-hot hearts (.79), at area drugstores.