Every year for Valentine’s Day my dad would go out and purchase a large, heart-shaped box of Russell Stover chocolates for my mom. When I was young (up till around age six or so), I would always ask if I could have the empty box because I simply adored all the ribbons and artificial flowers that decorated the container. For sentimental reasons my mom wanted to keep the box herself so each year I had to wait for the holiday to roll around again and when mom received her new holiday allotment of chocolate I was allowed to have the empty box from the previous year; that all changed the year that I turned seven.
The very next Valentine’s Day dad brought home mom’s heart-shaped box but this time there was a smaller version for me. I was beside myself with joy! No longer was I interested in the big empty box that had belonged to my mom. I now had one of my own, even though it was smaller.
Thinking about Valentine’s Day and chocolates brings to mind memories of some other types of confections that I used to enjoy. Most especially, I recall the sweets that I was allowed to buy with my allowance during lunch break at school. Unlike today, when candy machines line the halls of our schools, we had to rely on other sources to find something for our sweet tooth. St. Michael’s School in East Derby was where I spent my formative years and it was next door, at a small store called Jadach’s, that I carefully spent a portion of my allowance each week.
On especially nice days in the spring it was a real treat to grab my sweater from the coat room and race down the concrete steps with Alice, Mary Ann, or Adele (my friends at the time) and run about twenty yards to Jadach’s store. The bell attached to the top of the door announced our arrival and most often it was Mr. Jadach himself who came to wait on us girls. We would peruse the selection of treats available and mentally figure out how much we could purchase for our money, in my case usually twenty-five cents. Knowing that my money would have to last me for the entire week, and knowing that I would need to keep at least a dime in my purse for the dreaded emergency phone call, I made my selections with care.
My favorites were: the candy buttons (or sugar dots) that came attached to long paper strips and were sold by the inch; Squirrel Nut Zippers (a chewy chocolate nut caramel); and when I had the extra nickel a pack of Nik-L-Nips (tiny wax bottles filled with colored sugar water that came six to a pack), and of course gum drops. At least one of my friends would buy an Atomic Fire Ball and sometimes Mary Janes. With our treasures secured in small brown bags we would race back to the school yard and savor these treats during the remainder of our lunch hour.
Just recently I had the good fortune to come across an internet store selling those marvelous Licorice All-Sorts – they come in tins now. I’ll quote here their description: No other candy in the world tastes like Liquorice Allsorts, the famous licorice confection enjoyed by the English since 1899. These not-too-chewy, melt-in-your-mouth pastels are like little licorice petit fours, and nicely complement after-dinner coffee. Flavorful assortment includes a variety of colorful fruit and coconut pastels each with a sweet licorice center. Now, doesn’t that make your mouth water and bring back some great memories?