You’ve heard of straw polls and exit polls. Now savor this: a chocolate poll.

Hartville Chocolate Factory this election season introduced its $2 Chocolate Poll Bars — actually, two versions of a milk chocolate bar, one featuring an image of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s face and the other boasting a facial image of President Barack Obama, a Democrat.

The chocolatier — which is selling the treats online and at a few local shops — is conducting a sweet survey, tracking purchases of each and posting results on the web at http://chocolatepoll.com.

So far, the Romney candy bars are ahead, with 3,379 “votes” versus 3,161 for the Obama bars.

Bob Barton, founder of 20-employee Hartville Chocolate, came up with candidate-centric confections, and started marketing them in mid-September.

“We really should have started it earlier,” he said, reflecting on the lengthy campaign season. “But you know, small companies, with big ideas, it doesn’t go quick. It takes a while to get everything in place.”

The company might be small, but it’s an industry leader in the production of custom molded chocolate in the shape of company logos and event themes.

Barton’s daughter, Beth Shaub, who works for the family business, stated the obvious about the Chocolate Bar Poll: “This is not scientific.”

She noted that some buyers have bought a bar to tweak — not treat — a work colleague or loved one, purchasing an Obama bar for a Romney supporter or vice versa.

Shaub said, “It doesn’t matter which one you choose, with chocolate, you always win.”

There should be no shopper confusion. The Obama bar’s wrapper is blue-state blue and features a picture of the president. The Romney wrapper has a picture of the Republican candidate and is red-state red.

The candidate bars are a riff on some earlier Barton chocolate creations — bars featuring NFL quarterbacks and Major League Baseball players.

One of the first times that Barton put a face on a chocolate bar was in 1989. That was when he designed and developed the mold for the Bernie Kosar bar, featuring a likeness of the Cleveland Browns quarterback.

Hartville Chocolate Factory has two retail outlets in Stark County; a big portion of the business is producing molds for other chocolatiers and making the custom molded chocolate. Barton’s son, Bobby Barton, also works for the company.

Shaub, who works at the company’s store in the Hartville Marketplace in Lake Township, said purchases of Romney bars are leading there. She attributes that to the area’s conservative leanings. She said purchases of the Obama bars outpaced those of Romney bars at a Sweetest Day chocolate sale at Akron General Medical Center.

Locally, the Romney and Obama bars are available at the Peanut Shoppe at 203 S. Main St. in downtown Akron and at the Hartville Chocolate Factory’s two shops at 114 S. Prospect Ave. in downtown Hartville and at the Hartville Marketplace at 1289 Edison St. in nearby Lake Township. They also are available at the Hartville Hardware at 1315 Edison St. Northwest in Lake.

The bars also can be found at the shop inside the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus.

Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or kbyard@thebeaconjournal.com.