It began a long, long time ago. It had to be sometime between 1956 and 1957 and it started at a corner market located on Main Street in Lamont, California. I enjoyed
going to that small market with Mom to buy groceries, for a few reasons.
One of the reasons was that the butcher would give me a fresh all-beef Frankfurter from the meat counter. I would eat the lone Frankfurter as we walked around the market shopping. Secondly, it was there that we would pour a bag of Planter’s salted peanuts into a cold bottle of Pepsi or Coke. What a great mixture of taste; the salt against the carbonation of the drink, the plain taste of the now unsalted peanut against the sweetness of the cold dark liquid. But thirdly, it was here, there in the market with the dark wooden floor that I fell in love with…..chocolate.
Actually, the love was divided between sisters, Hershey Milk Chocolate bar and Three Musketeer’s bar. They each had their own particular attraction for me.
The Three Musketeer bar was wrapped in shiny foil with red, white and blue lettering that identified it so wonderfully. Opening the wrapper, it had the delicious chocolate outer coating and the lighter, fluffy inside that would not overpower you, but it left my mouth happy.
The other sister, Hershey Milk Chocolate was different, slicker, with a low rectangular profile, clothed in dark brown wrapper with silver lettering and a foil inner wrapper hiding twelve bar-shaped pieces divided, but remaining united until opened. One could approach eating the bar in at least two ways: first being to bite into it directly, ignoring the divides. I used this method for emergency treatment of my need of chocolate. It worked well by holding that bite on your tongue, long enough to allow it to melt and ease down your throat. The second method was to break the bars into individual pieces. I suppose this was the more civilized approach, but it didn’t help if you needed a hit!
That’s where it began, but these ‘friends’ were never far away when you needed them. Sometimes you needed them to celebrate and to be happy, even if you were by yourself. Sometimes you needed them to get you through a hard time, like when my parents would argue, fuss and fight. Later in life, they would help ease stress, like Valium. But like prescription medicine there are side effects. For me, it was weight gain. So I would have to tell my ‘friends’ we had to separate and restrict our time together, at least for a while.
Of course, they are not a small family, but have many relatives in various shapes and sizes. The sister’s brother, Hershey Cocoa Powder, works in the kitchen. He is lead man for making hot cocoa for those cold nights. He is the alternative to white gravy, going to the dark side known as chocolate gravy. Slowly, draped over a couple of hot open biscuits, he is absolutely dangerous.
Their Aunt’s are chocolate ice cream in various adaptations of Chocolate Chip, Rocky Road, Mint Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Almond, Chocolate Fudge Ripple (I had run-ins with her in the eighth grade), but the Queen of them all, that bad, bad girl – Hot Fudge!!! You can tell by her name that she is trouble. She has caused grown men do things that they know they shouldn’t do, but they are powerless to resist her. She is like Kryptonite to Superman, at least to this former Superman.
What is a man to do, when your red and blue suit doesn’t fit anymore and you are no longer faster than a speeding bullet? Or able to leap over…anything! Oh, the agony! Oh, the humiliation!
Then, they bring their cousins, Malted Milk Balls!! They always travel as a group, like a small orchestra named Whoppers! They play some wicked blues, especially after midnight. They have been known to spiked your milk with Hershey’s chocolate syrup. That can cause a hangover for sure.
I don’t have time to tell of the misadventures of what the radical hard-shelled M & M’s have done to me. These seemingly plain M & M’s and the crazy, nutty M&M’s with peanuts are wild. Mix those kids and the Malted Milk Balls in a bowl and you have a riot on your hands!
So, you can tell I have a ‘love-hate’ relationship with chocolate. I now keep it in the house only for emergencies; some in the freezer and some in a wicker basket for ‘recreational, social use’ and some in the pantry. But overall, I think I have things under control. Really! Did you know in Europe, they say snorting cocoa is the new afternoon pick-me-up? Well, you know the old saying, “It’s 5:00 somewhere!” No, really, I’m just kidding! I wouldn’t snort cocoa power in the afternoon. I have to save it for the chocolate gravy in the morning. Order Up!!