Thursday, February 9, 2012

Chocolate Factory

My kids' friends get wide-eyed when I tell them that I worked in a chocolate factory. My bragging rights are up there with that of the AIDS researcher, the banker, the architect among the parents. It's no point even telling them that I once also worked in an ad agency - what's that?

The chocolate company was my first job out of university. I had filled out the application form on a lark. The brand name had resonated with me. My sisters had lived in London and came home with fondness for English street confectionery. They told me about their friends who survived lunchtime on Mars bars. One sister always kept a bar in her drawer as a result.
Then I got my dream job. How sexy it was to go to work and taste the 'morning panel' of M&M's made fresh the night before. Others would die to be shoe-buyers of Manolo Blahniks for Bergdorf Goodman, I thrived on Mars, Skittles and M&M's.

That was almost a lifetime ago. Recently, the NY Times Dining section featured Prestat. By Appointment to HM The Queen, Purveyors of Chocolate. The sniffling Anglophile that I am, I made my way to The London Candy Co. after school pick-up, under the guise of purchasing a box of chocolates for 'daddy for Valentine's Day'. My gullible daughter just thought that I was a very organized person, beating the crowd before Feb 14.

Well, I was the kid in a candy store. I grabbed almost everything I set my eyes on - Aero, Smarties, Turkish Delight, Fry's, different variants of Kit Kat. And for old times' sake, Mars.
"I came to New York 'coz of them, you know", I told the Brit who manned the counter.

Then we took the subway home. Toting the bag of sweets, I asked my daughter if she had fun. "Yes, it was lots of fun", she replied, holding my hand. That's how it was back at the candy company.

Indonesia in Amsterdam

For years, my daughter had wanted to visit Amsterdam. We were cautioned by friends that parts of the city - particularly Dam Square - m...