What’s Better Than Chocolate?

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Maxine Stone
Maxine Stone

I love chocolate—it’s my favorite dessert, snack, sauce and treat.

When I allow myself to ignore the dreaded calorie count, I have one piece of chocolate (dark only) after dinner. I then savor one Mallomar with its delicious chocolate coating while I sip my evening tea.

Every Valentine’s Day, my California sister-in-law sends me a two-pound box of chocolates from See’s Candies. This delicious brand of delights is, happily for me, available selectively in California.

I await this gift with dread. Will I be able to withstand the temptation to gobble up more than one guilty pleasure a day?

This year I was saved! The chocolates arrived early. The assortment was mostly creams and caramels, which I hate. My husband would have had a field day if he was still with me, these were his favorites. My sister-in-law continues to send me this gift each year. Years have elapsed since Ed passed away, but she still sends a note reading, “Your secret admirer.” This was the sentiment she included with the gift when my husband was alive. She liked to play this game with him. Of course, he knew who the admirer was. He enjoyed the little joke; it gave him a lift. Lucile implied that I was included in the gift of chocolates, however she never said so directly. She was unaware of my preference of fillings in the selection. Ed was not choosy, he would eat anything sweet. I find her continuing commitment to this Valentine ritual a testament to our friendship.

It was fun anticipating the arrival of the package each year. We placed the box on the coffee table, waiting for our daily selection. I did not leave the empty papers in the box, which I was prone to do. Ed could then detect how many pieces I had eaten by counting the brown wrappers. He would say, “You cheated.” What I was actually doing was punching each chocolate (carefully, I thought) to see whether it was a cream. If it gave way easily, I would discard the dented one and take another. He would never know I had dumped the offensive piece in the trash, which most likely had a pink sticky center. Sometimes, I would take a bite out of one only to discover it was a caramel. That entitled me to one more selection with my choice of filling since I hadn’t eaten my daily allowance.

The chocolate-covered nuts and coconuts were the only ones I ate this year. I felt very virtuous as I didn’t poke my finger into the centers to see what hidden pleasure was contained in each chocolate shape. I knew there were only five pieces with nuts and three with coconut. Occasionally, a dark beauty filled with nugget or a truffle lurked. I knew no one was watching me as I secretly tested each piece by taking a small bite out of one a day. It was a game of discovery I found fun. I could abandon the offensive creams to my heart’s desire.

The box diminished more slowly than usual this year, and when the last delight was rolled around on my tongue and the box was filled with discarded paper holders, I sighed with relief—no more temptation until next year.

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