She unwraps a golfball-sized round of chocolate and takes a bite.

"Yuck - I don't like these," says choco-latier Marie Cavanaugh, handing the remainder to husband George. "You want to try it?"George Cavanaugh declines and the chocolate is trash-canned, doomed to melt in the local landfill.

Of course, the chocolate isn't one of Mrs. Cavanaugh's. It's imported from Switzerland. European chocolate is overrated - and overpriced, according to the Cavanaughs, who know a few things about the industry.

Almost 20 years ago, they set up shop in a garage and home on 500 South in Bountiful and grossed less than $100,000 in sales. This year, sales from their four stores are expected to top $1.5 million.

And following the recent purchase of a convenience store next door, the Cavanaughs are not only planning to expand their production capability, they are toying with the idea of expanding their markets to Japan.

Not bad for a mom and pop business that has roots in West Jordan and a farming town in South Dakota called Gettysburg.

Marie Cavanaugh grew up in West Jordan, where she learned the fine art of candymaking from her mother. She met George Cavanaugh at BYU and they moved to his home state, where he worked as a farmer and she made candy, mostly for her family and neighbors.

"My wife is an excellent cook," says George Cavanaugh, 63, whose slim frame shows little sign of gastronomic debauchery. "She has an unusual sense of taste. She even cooked liver once that was good, I thought."

Word of her chocolate wizardry spread like the aroma of simmering caramel, and she was inundated with requests from afar.

"I soon got to where I couldn't afford to give chocolates away anymore." And so Mrs. Cavanaugh's Home Fashioned Chocolates was born.

In 1972, the couple and their four children moved to Bountiful and purchased a Mountain Fuel home and six-truck garage at 170 W. 500 South. George quit his construction job and modeled the garage into a candy kitchen and store. Ten years later, the Cavanaughs moved out of the home, which was then converted into a store and remains the company's flagship retail outlet.

To satisfy Utah's appetite for chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate, Mrs. Cavanaugh's opened stores in Layton Hills Mall, the Crossroads Plaza and the Valley Fair Mall. And the company supplies chocolates to ZCMI candy counters at the downtown ZCMI Center, the South Towne Mall, the Cottonwood Mall and the Ogden City Mall.

About 46 tons of light chocolate and 23 tons of dark are shipped to Bountiful each year from Merken Chocolate Co., Mansfield, Mass. Mrs. Cavanaugh's adds cream, sugar, nuts, fruit, popcorn, butter and rum to produce about 40 different varieties of chocolate confections and other treats. "And we don't use any preservatives - be sure to put that in your story," says Marie Cavanaugh.

Assisted by dozen production employees and about $250,000 worth of equipment, the Cavanaughs have little to do anymore with the actual day-to-day cooking, dipping and sorting. "We've got the best help in Utah," says Mrs. Cavanaugh, who spends most of her time poring over advertisements and fund-raising brochures and designing boxes. Meanwhile, Mr. Cavanaugh, when he's not writing and memorizing poetry, is deciding how best to renovate and utilize the new property.

Though the mall business is profitable, Mrs. Cavanaugh's enjoys a healthy rapport with corporate executives who purchase chocolates as gifts for their employees and potential clients. A Salt Lake distributor also sells Mrs. Cavanaugh's products in southern California and Bellevue, Wash.

But the Cavanaughs have endeared themselves the most to the local customers, such as women joggers who regularly stop in at the end of a run to reward themselves with "just one chocolate," or the elderly woman who told them, "When I'm in my casket, I don't want a silk hanky - I want one of your pecan rolls."