First Prize Winner – a year’s supply of Bridge Brands Chocolate
“…there is one thing that will always bridge the distance between generations - chocolate…” (Click here to read Joyce’s full story)
When I was growing up in the '70's they called it The Generation Gap. Today we call it the Digital Divide. But no matter what you name it, there is one thing that will always bridge the distance between the generations—chocolate. Chocolate appeals to all—young, older, middle-age. You name the age, there's a chocolate out there for it.
My Dad and I didn't talk much back then, not about important things anyway. But one of my fondest memories of him is his love for chocolate. Often Dad would come home with a tote bag full of candy—yes I said tote bag—and I knew there were boxes of chocolates inside. Dad's favorites were the jellies—raspberry and orange enrobed in dark chocolate. A love passed on to me. Anyway, Dad would crack open one of the cream colored boxes usually tied with a gold ribbon and then crack a smile. He always took the first one. But then it was my turn.
"Which one is raspberry?" I asked. Dad smiled, his blue eyes twinkled with chocolate joy.
"Guess you'll just have to keep trying till you find one." His answer was always the same. So I would reach inside and nearly always grab the raspberry. One bite was all it took for me to feel any worries, any tension between us melt like the chocolate in my mouth.
"So what did you do today?" Dad asked.
"Oh the usual, school and junk."
"What junk?" Dad asked, popping another jelly.
"Ah, you know just hanging out with friends."
And off we went talking about friends—his and mine.
Hey, maybe we talked more than I thought. Maybe chocolate was Dad's sweet and sneaky way of opening the lines of communication. I thoroughly enjoyed watching my father's face light as he talked about his childhood and his friends between bites. He shared stories of his boyhood exploits in the neighborhood and I hung on every word. As I look back on it, I know it was the chocolate that made our talks possible. And now, I do the same with my kids. We have a chocolate drawer in our house—it's where I keep the goodies and the kids know it.
"Mom, where's the secret chocolate drawer this time?"
I move it frequently just to keep the suspense alive.
"So how was school?" I asked, as Emily unwraps a chocolate.
"Okay." She'll take a bite and that chocolate smile—you know the one—will stretch across her face.
"Really?" I ask. "Just okay?"
And off we go sharing news of the day.
Chocolate brought my father and I closer. It bridged the gap that might otherwise divide. Dad's gone now and I miss our chocolate talks. But the tradition lives on with me and my children as we sit and get quiet enough to savor not only the chocolate but also the words that cross the bridge and join one generation with the other. Chocolate always listens.
Runner Up – Congratulations to Jamie Lynn Jonseck she will receive a special Bridge Brands Gift Set pack
“My name is Jamie and I am just an ordinary housewife, mother and grandmother. When my youngest daughter was 7 she got mad at me about having to clean her room.” (Click here to read Jamie's full story)
My name is Jamie and I am just an ordinary housewife, mother and grandmother. When my youngest daughter was 7 she got mad at me about having to clean her room. She decided that the easiest way out of it was to announce that she didn’t want to live here anymore and that she was going to pack herself a bag and leave.
I can remember it was in the middle of winter and about 20 degrees outside so as she was in her room packing I hurried into the kitchen to make her a small thermos of hot chocolate. I thought it was so cute how determined she was about leaving. She and I both knew she wasn’t really going to go anywhere. Within about 5 minuets she had her bag packed and her coat and boots on and was about to walk out the door when I handed her the thermos filled with hot chocolate. I leaned over and gave her a big hug and told her to be careful out there...its a big scary world for a little girl like yourself. She gave me a worried look as if she wanted me to beg her to stay and couldn’t believe I was letting her leave.
As I closed the door behind her I couldn’t help but to run to the window to keep an eye on her through a small opening between the curtains. She took a few small slow steps... stood there for a minute and then turned around and came back to sit on the porch step. I gave her about two minuets to think and then grabbed my coat and two coffee cups and opened the door back up. As she turned around and looked up at me I asked, “Mind if I have a cup of your hot chocolate?”
She said, "ok" so I went out and sat next to her and poured us both a cup. We started talking and before we knew it we were heading back inside to clean her room together. We both actually enjoyed doing it too. I'll never forget that day, and I truly believe she won’t either. Since then, there have been many many cups of hot chocolate shared between us. It always has a way of making us warm inside in more ways then one.
And here are a few of our favorite stories.
Karlene Flake, a homemaker from Bayville, New Jersey
(Click here to read Karlene’s story)
A bridge can be a wondrous thing; it can carry us over chasms, through valleys, past the rocky expanses we must travail. A bridge takes us from what we know, the place we are at right now, and transports us to somewhere else. The result of the journey that bridges can lead us on is infinite. Chocolate has been such a bridge in my life, it’s taken me literally from death to new life—and been a faithful companion along the way.
My mom was dynamo- 5’3”, and as the saying goes (albeit with a bit of poetic license) “93 pounds soaking wet”. What she lacked in stature she made up for in spirit and in the size of her heart. She was a great lady, kind, well loved, and I was proud to be her daughter. She was a force of nature, with a single-minded determination and the type of sheer tenacity that legend is made of. Which is why when she was diagnosed with cancer, at only 51 years old, we were sure she would beat it. How could she not? Five years she fought, and fought hard, but the cancer was relentless. She would defeat it one area, only to have it show up with a vengeance somewhere else.
When the doctors finally told us there was nothing left to do, I spent the last few weeks at my mom’s side. I tried to spoil her with treats and comfort foods — there was a box of fancy chocolates on her table the entire time. It sat there through some very poignant moments as we reminisced, and as we treasured those last days together. The night she passed away, that box of chocolates was there — a silent witness to the end of a beautiful life.
Several years later, when I was pregnant, I found myself in yet another challenging situation. Facing a high-risk pregnancy, chocolate was one of the few comforts afforded me. It always reminded me of my mom, and it was an instant stress reliever. That is, until I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes, and was told chocolate was a “no-no.” The sugar content made it an inappropriate snack for someone who had to watch her carbohydrate intake carefully, and the artificially sweetened chocolates were a no-go due to ingredients that were not good for a developing baby. While I took some solace in the fact that my diet would likely go back to normal after delivery, I was bereft without having my chocolate fix for the duration of the pregnancy.
During childbirth classes, we were instructed to bring a small item from home to concentrate on during delivery. My mind was made up in a nanosecond — I’d bring in a box of chocolates! Not only would they make me feel close to my mom, but would be there, waiting, when my dietary restrictions were lifted!
So, on a cold January evening, with a biting wind outside, and a very nervous father-to-be at my side, I brought a beautiful, and healthy, baby girl into the world. Again a box of chocolates was there—this time to witness the beginning of a beautiful new life. Chocolate had been a bridge for me, from the greatest loss of my life, to the most precious miracle I could have ever experienced. An unobtrusive little box of chocolates was there as my mother drew her last breath and as my daughter took her first. You can be assured that chocolate will always be with us — as a bridge to guide us through all of life’s trials and celebrations.
Sandra Lynn Rowe, a homemaker from Idaho Falls, Idaho
(Click here to read Sandra's story)
I met my Grandpa van der Beek when I was 14 years old. I loved my mom’s new husband, my dad, from the start, but his father was a little scary. Grandpa was from Holland, a dyed-in-the-wool stubborn Dutchman. He was gruff. He was opinionated, especially about women dying their hair or wasting money on silly things like make-up. On that first visit we sat in his 1950’s-style living room, an awkward silence growing longer as we tried to think of things to talk about that were interesting to both a teenager and a septuagenarian. “Ya like ta have some chocolate?” he asked, waving at the little bowl of Chocolate Mints on the coffee table. I thought, this might not be so bad, and the topic turned to the weather.
We found common ground at the kitchen table with a deck of cards and a box of chocolates. He taught me how to play Forty, a Dutch version of Gin. I taught him how to play Pinochle. On the second Sunday of every month my dad and I came to play cards and eat Grandpa’s chocolate. He had all kinds of chocolate to tempt a teenager: Mints, bridge mix, Raspberry Sticks, butterscotches, but mostly chocolates. All of it was perfectly arranged next to me so that I could eat as much as I wanted. Around the holidays he would set out seasonal rarities like Pinafores (little chocolate-covered cakes) and hazelnut chocolates shaped like seashells. On Christmas day I always got a chocolate “S” for the first letter of my name. He told us it was a Dutch tradition.
I went off to college at 18, but the second Sunday of every month still found me at my Grandpa’s house. It was an hour’s drive but I couldn’t miss a visit. By that time it wasn’t the chocolate that brought me; I knew that someday he would not be around anymore, and I didn’t want to have any regrets. I enjoyed talking to him as we played cards. Even after 50 years in the United States he still had a strong accent, replacing his j’s with y’s and his th’s with d’s. He called me “Miss Ace” and teased me when I would win. “Der she go mit de aces!” he’d say with mock sorrow, as I’d lay down four aces.
Although we always began by talking about the weather (Dis wint yust blows and blows!) he would sometimes talk about the past. He told me about skating on the frozen canals as a child, riding his bike for days to court grandma, and hiding from the German army during World War II so he wouldn’t be drafted.
After I got married we bought a house a few blocks from Grandpa’s so we could watch out for him. At 88 Grandpa had a lot of health problems but he still lived in his own house and even shoveled the driveway if we didn’t do it fast enough.
When he was 90 I proudly introduced him to his newest great-granddaughter. He looked at her, lying in her baby carrier, and said, “Your mamma don’t get de aces dis time!” and returned to our cards. That was our last game.
As the family divided his possessions in preparation for the estate sale, I quietly took the ceramic candy dish that had always held those chocolates. Six months later, at Christmas, I saw the chocolate sea shells during a quick grocery trip. They weren’t cheap, but I didn’t feel guilty about buying them and eating the whole box myself. Thanks, Grandpa.
Marie A. Roy, semi retired from Terryville, Connecticut
(Click here to read Marie’s story)
Chocolate, along with books, have and will continue to be my friends during happy times, sad times, or simply times when I feel I need that extra something. I keep a bag of dark chocolates beside my computer. I'm a bit of a health nut and believe dark chocolate should be a part of everyone's diet, so I never feel too much guilty when I indulge in those few pieces of dark chocolate while I'm drafting up new stories.
I even wrote a poem about chocolates titled Delicious Dilemma, which I will post to my blog on Valentine's Day.
I love books and I love chocolates and cannot see a life without these two passions. And of course when my four grandchildren are over, they know enough to go into Grammy's Pantry and help themselves to the treats I keep stored there for them. They will always find among the granola bars, the fruit rolls, the peanut butter and the jar of jelly, several bags of chocolates.
Chocolates are comforting, soothing, and give that extra boost of energy. Chocolates can help feed the soul especially in difficult times. I can cut down on other unnecessary expenses, but I won’t cut out my chocolates.
Every Valentine's Day my late husband, a teacher who taught high school math in the school system for thirty-four years gave me a box of chocolates. Now I buy them for myself and pretend they are from him. I then lovingly remember the great memories we made during our thirty-three year marriage. He loved the caramels, and I loved the cream filled. We both loved the chocolates filled with nuts or cherries.
Chocolates represent love, caring, and sharing. They can bring us back to those times of carefree pleasure. I think in today's economic climate we need all the help we can get to keep a positive attitude.
I've lost jobs through lay offs. I've lost loved ones through tragic circumstances. In one year I lost my husband, and both parents. And then my two feline friends crossed over to the Rainbow Bridge.
I've done the grief work necessary to move me forward. I look at life with a positive attitude. And what helps me keep on track is that small bag of dark chocolates sitting on my desk beside my computer.
I should add I don't gain much weight because to offset the chocolates consumed I go dancing. So you could say books, chocolates, and dancing is all you need to weather this economy until it turns around, which I am quite positive that it will.
Lindsay M Linklater, a housewife from Charlotte North Carolina
(Click here to read Lindsay’s story)
It worked! I woke up with the word “chocolates” swirling around my head.
My grandmother was smart, really smart, when she said to me, "Sleep on a problem." And that is what I had done. Not knowing what to get for a friend who has everything for a birthday present, and knowing she loves, no adores chocolates, I woke up with the idea to give her chocolates... a hamper of chocolates.
With the idea snuggly okayed in my head and a naughty smile on my face, I left the house to start chocolate shopping in earnest. Into the basket went one chocolate for the birthday hamper, then one chocolate for me, then another for the hamper and another for me. I forgave myself for indulging chocolates for “me” as well, using the excuse that if she can have chocolate hamper…so can I!
Leaving the store, I couldn’t miss them even if I wanted to — four noisy teenagers in a huddle, lost with what they had with them. Not sure why, I quickened my steps as I approached the teenagers. As I was about to walk by I saw small, very sad brown eyes peeping out from the hands of the shortest boy.
Now, there was something about those eyes that had my heart skip a beat. The tiny dog’s black nose, wriggling this way and that, and legs, fighting to escape the boys grasp, stopped my steps. His brown short coat — the color of chocolate—brought tears to my eyes in seconds. I could clearly see that this puppy was a sad puppy — a very sad puppy.
Breathing in deeply, I approached the boys and asked if I could say "hello" to their puppy — my excuse to get a good look at the little dog.
"Its not our dog – we found him—do you want to buy the dog from us?" The tallest boy said, holding the puppy out. The puppy yelped. I couldn’t tell if the boy was lying or not.
I took the puppy, no longer caring if his fighting legs broke all the chocolates in the packet now hanging over my arm.
That poor, shivering, mangy puppy pushed his little head under my arm — I guess trying to find a dark place to shut out the cruel world... his world of only six or eight weeks.
"Thirty Dollars," a boy shouted, "for the puppy!"
I didn’t have thirty dollars... not even ten dollars…but then I realized what I did have...
"I have no cash on me" I heard myself say, "but," holding out the shopping packet, "I have $100.00 worth of chocolates in this bag... for the Puppy".
Eight hands grabbed at the packet — two hands held the bag open and six hands dug in—and comments of "cool" were said as they pulled the chocolates out and examined each one.
"Done" the boys shouted. “You take the Puppy, we take the chocolates!“
And so it was done. I left carrying the Puppy and the boys stood there with the birthday chocolates.
That day 18 months ago chocolates was a life-saving bridge for a very sick, very young puppy — a puppy who is now a healthy adult dog, sleeping here as I type this little story, happily between my slipped feet.
Anna J. Hanks, a childcare worker from Muskegon, Mississippi
(Click here to read Anna's story)
My daughter has a wonderful boyfriend, Chip. My only problem with him is that he is not a person who is close with his family and therefore is uncomfortable with me. I am the huggie, overboard with attention type Mom. I know he likes me and loves my daughter but I just wish I could somehow show him that my acceptance and love for him is sincere. Every Christmas I try to think of a gift that may please him. I want so much to get that "seal of approval" from him. This year after buying two pairs of long underware and a baseball mitt, I again was so depressed. My daughter said buy him some candy, you know he likes chocolate.
I was in a store at the time and there on the shelf in front of me was a huge Chocolate bar. I said "thank you God" and ran to pay for it. It was hard to hide this gift but I found a good place. It was such a good hiding place that at Christmas I totally forgot about it. The next week I finally gave him his gift. At first, he just looked at it. (Later he said "I thought it was a mirror for on the wall") When he realized it was really chocolate and he could eat it, he hugged me and said it was the best present he had ever gotten in his whole life. He said I was the best Mom ever and gave me the biggest most sincere hug. I was thrilled!! He is a wonderful man and having him show his happiness meant everything to me. I truly believe Chocolate can heal a wounded heart.
Pris van Johnson, a retail developer from Yosemite, California
(Click here to read Pris's story)
When I first met my husband through a friend, we were mortal enemies. We could not stand each other. This went on for about three years till one night all three of us were supposed to be going to see a concert and we all had to meet up at Starbucks.
While these stories didn’t win,
When I got there, he was already there and our mutual friend had yet to arrive. I sat next to him and attempted a conversation—which didn't really work. So I took out a candy bar that I picked up when I was on vacation in Germany, he looked over and said “hey what’s that?”
“Oh it's just some chocolate,” I said. “Do you want some?”
As we're sharing the chocolate, he finally comes around and talks to me, only to find out that we both have similar interests. Three months later we're married! Oh the power of chocolate!
each will receive a special Bridge Brands Chocolate
gift. Thank you to all the chocolate fans who shared their stories with us! Happy Valentine’s Day, and check back on our web site soon for our Mother’s Day Contest.
At Bridge Brands Chocolate
, we have a chocolate for every occasion, and we hope that you will make us your gift destination for all of your favorite people through out the year. Our company is big enough to meet all of your chocolate needs, but still small enough to provide all of our customers with the best care and service around.