Monday, February 14, 2005


Last year, the two Fannie May stores in our little town (a 5-square-mile rectangle) closed their doors for good. One wouldn't exactly call it a civic tragedy--it's not as though they were pumping millions into the local economy and keeping hundreds, or even dozens, of citizens employed. There were the usual newspaper articles and people talked about the closings a lot, but no one seemed very concerned. Consternation reigned in my house, though. My wife, who shall be referred to henceforth as Wife A. (the "A" represents an initial, not her designation as most favored of my many wives), is a little insane about Fannie May's dark-chocolate-covered almond clusters. Not a large woman, but she can burn through a one-pound box of them in a few hours. Her restraint in the presence of this particular confection is so laughably weak, in fact, that she only wants to see them twice a year: on Christmas morning, when a box from Santa magically appears under the tree, and on Valentine's Day. But on those two days, she REALLY wants them. So we had several stages of grief over this closing, principally denial ("there's no way they would just CLOSE the stores!"), anger ("so I guess the pencil pushers are running the show now") and bargaining (mostly with the hapless store employees over their dwindling stocks of chocolate).

The final and best stage, acceptance, came with our discovery of my new favorite store, Old Fashioned Candies, in the next town south of us. I don't know how I could have lived here for 10 years without discovering this place. It's a gem, and it's got Fannie May beaten in every category. First, it looks like nothing in this store, not a single thing, has changed in 40 years. If you're of a certain age (I'm 41), you walk in and feel as if you've walked directly into your childhood. Second, in the center is a huge table covered with jars of every candy they sell, and you just scoop what you want into little white paper bags. Third, they make the candy right on the premises, in full view, so you can just stand there, getting in everyone's way, and watch them dipping strawberries in liquid chocolate, mixing vats of creamy goo, etc. Fourth, hanging on the wall they have chunks of chocolate molded into every shape you could possibly want, and some you don't want. Pelicans, dollar signs, babies, snowmen, pigs ("hogs and kisses"), sailboats, and one each of all the letters and numbers. You don't think my daughter wanted to buy chocolate house numbers to replace the boring old painted ones we have? ("Something on our house should be edible!") Fifth, and best of all, their dark chocolate clusters are THE BEST! The chocolate is rich, almost black, and twice as flavorful as that apologetic stuff they used to sell at Fannie May. (I guess that last sentence clues you in that one of the stages of grief was deciding that Fannie May was overrated.)

I could go on about this place, but work beckons. The upshot is, we left with a box of the treasured item, Valentine's Day was saved, the family balance has been restored, and for the next few hours at least, there are dark-chocolate-covered almond clusters calling me from the next room.


Blogger Melissa said...

Yes, Fannie May was overrated, but the fact that I'll never again receive a mint coated, chocolate filled cream egg for Easter makes me a little misty.

2/28/2005 4:22 PM  
Blogger Emma Goldman said...

Check out the Belgian Chocolatier, in Evanston, for your chocolate fixes. It will transform your life.

3/24/2005 10:57 AM  

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