My Life – In Chocolate
I’ve been feeling guilty all week.
Because I wrote so lovingly about ice cream several days ago.
And neglected the other love of my life:
I’m sorry, Chocolate. I love you too.
So here is a history of my romance with Chocolate.
The first chocolate I remember is a Hershey bar. My grandmother (Babci in Polish) used to buy Hershey bars to give us every Sunday when we visited. (and Juicy Fruit gum and little bags of State Line potato chips) A Hershey bar is pretty mediocre in my mind today, but I have fabulous memories of Hershey bars salted by potato chip fingers.
Across the street from my house was a little store. We called it Paul’s, but it was officially Lavoie’s Market. Paul Lavoie was a butcher and mostly sold very good meat at his hole-in-the-wall tiny shop. But he had a nice supply of candy bars for us kids, and almost every candy bar from my childhood was first tried at Paul’s. My favorite for a long time was a Sky Bar – because you got four different little bars.
I loved the idea of having an assortment in one candy bar. There was one slight drawback, however, I hated the white stuff that they called Vanilla. It was a kind of marshmallow nougat that I didn’t like. You’d think I would just stop buying a candy bar that I didn’t like 25% of. But no. My solution at age eight was logical to me. I ate the disliked piece first, so it wouldn’t be the lasting taste in my mouth. But how, you might wonder, would I know which of the center pieces was the bad one? That’s where the finger poke in the bottom was the solution – just like you probably poke your Whitman’s Sampler today.
Speaking of Whitman’s Samplers, my Aunt Lil often had a box of those at her house. I did not like soft centers (I still don’t). But I had perfected my poke skill on the Sky Bar, so I was all set.
And on the topic of centers, I was in a love-hate relationship with Chunky.
I liked the consistency of the chocolate and I liked the thick bar. But I don’t like raisins and chocolate together. Does that mean that I never bought a Chunky at Paul’s? Of course I did. I bought EVERY kind of candy bar, even ones I didn’t like. Just not as often.
But somewhere around the mid-sixties, the Pecan Chunky was introduced. No raisins. Problem solved.
And of course I loved Three Musketeers (big and fluffy) and Milky Ways, Snickers, and Mars. What’s not to like?
And Almond Joy and Mounds bars. But why can’t dark chocolate have almonds too? Life is so unfair.
I did not like gritty candy bars – that means no rice or crispy stuff – Nestle’s Crunch, I’m talking to you.
But I loved Reese’s peanut butter cups. I do not consider peanut butter gritty. i consider peanut butter heavenly. The only drawback in the 50′s was that they were only sold in singles.
And there was a small chocolate bite that I still see once in a while in convenience stores called the Ice Cube.
It was penny candy back when I was a kid, and it’s still pretty cheap, I think. And it is an ultra creamy bit of hazlenut-flavored chocolate. And they freeze really well.
Which brings me to the subject of frozen chocolate bars. Sticking a Milky Way in the freezer was a great treat. And you could slap a frozen Charlston Chew on the table and it would shatter into very satisfying little shards.
But the best frozen candy bar was a bar I could only get at the town swimming pool. The concession stand at Page Park carried a candy bar called the Milk Shake. And they kept them in the freezer. After an afternoon of swimming, I’d spend thirty cents (a fortune in those days) for a frozen Milk Shake. I can’t even remember now what they tasted like, but they smelled like chlorine.
Now, of course, my taste is more sophisticated (except for Ice Cubes and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, of course.)
For mass-produced chocolate, I like Lindt truffles and Dove chocolates. And Dove gives you the double pleasure of the sweet treat and a sweet affirmation on the inside of the wrapper.
And then there is the BEST chocolate. I think if you are going to eat that many calories, they might as well be the best calories available.
And I have two choices for best chocolate:
About 15 years ago, I was in New York on business. It was February 13 and I was returning to Connecticut the next day – Valentine’s Day. So I went out that evening looking for someplace better than a drug store to buy my husband something better than a Hershey Bar. And on Madison Avenue, I came upon a long line of folks waiting in the freezing weather just to get in the door of a tiny shop. This must be the place, I thought. And it was. It was Leonidas, which sells Belgian truffles at $40.00 a pound. I can afford that about once every five Valentine’s Days.
And best of all – there is an amazing source of chocolate right here in Litchfield County. At Thorncrest Dairy Farm, they make chocolates every day from that day’s milk. And the chocolatier, Kimberly, knows by the smell of the milk which cow it came from. And different cows have different sweetnesses and different boiling points to their milk – and so are suited for certain chocolates over others. (per Kim, anyway, who may be a little crazy on the subject). But she certainly knows how to make good chocolate. So I believe her. And so I always ask for something from Princess.