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Today, the Advertiser-Courier kicks off a series -- going well into the holiday season -- highlighting Hermann's winners in various categories of the 2020 Discover The Best of Missouri Life Awards.

Ricky's Chocolate Box has been named as Chocolatier in the second annual Best of Missouri Life Awards.

"Boasting an impressive array of handmade, small-batch treats, you'll find classics like pecan turtles to more adventurous fare like rum chatta truffles," Missouri Life magazine said of Ricky's in its November/December issue. The awards are based on nominations by the magazine, which are then submitted to voting by its readers.

Owner James Justus told the Advertiser-Courier about his reaction to the special honor.

"A little surprised. I hoped we had a chance. But you never know," he said.

Justus has even made a special sign that lets customers and visitors to Hermann know of the distinction.

"I wanted to show that off," he said.

He spoke of what other factors may have led to the win, admitting he at first thought there was some sort of a catch to the competition.

"We (Ricky's staff) all work hard to put out a great product," said Justus, adding that there is no skimping on ingredients.

"If they walk away feeling cheated, they won't come back," he said of the shop's customers. "You survive on repeat customers. I see the same people year after year. That's always a good thing."

Ricky's has close to 200 sweet products to offer its clientele.

"Right now, we're trying to keep up with what we have," Justus said. "I'm always trying to broaden my horizons."

The old German recipes -- and ways to keep up the success from licorice and gummies -- also occupies the R & D time for the staff at Ricky's.

Despite the pandemic, there are high hopes for a favorable holiday season at the shop. Justus said it's important to have more than one plan for the business. Online ordering is expected to increase. Ricky's set an October sales record too.

Missouri Life also announced the following second-place finishers from Hermann and vicinity: Romantic Restaurant -- Alpenhorn Gasthaus; Buffet -- The Corner Restaurant-Bar-Catering, Rhineland; Historic Small Town -- Hermann; Most Unusual Business In A Small Town -- Doxie Slush; Distillery -- Pinckney Bend Distillery, New Haven; White Wine -- Stone Hill Winery; and Best Norton -- Stone Hill.