Everyone likes chocolate. Some people love it more than any other sweet food. Then there are the true chocolate lovers, whose appetite for chocolate goes far beyond what the rest of us can understand.
Chances are you know one of these “chocoholics”. You may be one yourself. But there was never a chocoholic like my grandpa.
Grandpa was what they call, in the part of the country where he lived, a Character. An avid outdoorsman, his hunting exploits were the stuff of legend; his fishing yarns were so extravagant he was disqualified from the annual Liars’ Contest – nobody else’s tales had a chance. Small business owner, city planner, backyard inventor of the only 100% effective system for keeping neighborhood dogs from fouling a lawn…in other words, a Character.
And Grandpa loved chocolate. That’s an understatement. Grandma, who kept the books for their store, chided him for raiding the chocolate crates in the storeroom; he would eat up all their profit, she said, only half joking. Grandpa blamed mice. Grandma observed that the local mice were conscientious enough to throw the wrappers away when they ate chocolate from the storage crates.
One day Grandpa broke out in a rash. He wasn’t running a fever, so he didn’t worry too much; but the rash wouldn’t go away. His friend the town doctor was mystified. “It seems like some kind of allergic reaction,” he mused. “You’ve never been allergic to anything, have you?”
“No,” Grandpa answered. “No allergies.”
“Well, what are you eating?” asked the doctor.
“I don’t know!” replied Grandpa. “I eat all kinds of stuff – whatever’s for dinner!”
“We have to rule out some basic foods, then,” said the doctor. “Let’s isolate you for a week or so – take a vacation at your cabin. Make a list of all the things you take with you; jot down what you have for every meal. Hopefully when you come home the rash will be gone, and we can eliminate the items on your list.”
Grandpa didn’t hesitate. His cabin in the Rockies was his favorite place to get away and do what he loved most: hunt and fish. He loaded up the car with the bare necessities – including fishing tackle and his favorite rifle – and set off.
A week later he returned. The rash was worse than ever.
“Good Heavens!” said the doctor when he saw Grandpa. “You look worse than ever! It’s a safe bet that something you eat is making you sick. It must be something you took with you to the cabin. What did you eat up there?”
“Well,” said Grandpa, “I brought some flour, eggs, and cooking oil for pancakes. Had some bacon. Coffee, no milk. Trout from the lake – delicious!”
“None of those thing should have given you such a rash. Are you sure you didn’t eat anything else? Nothing at all?”
Grandpa paused. “I did have a little bit of chocolate.”
“Aha!” cried the doctor. “How much chocolate did you take up there?”
“A twenty-five pound bag of bridge mix…”
“What? No wonder you broke out in hives! How much of that bag did you eat?”
By now, Grandpa was getting defensive. “What do you mean, how much of it? I ate all of it!”
“Good Heavens, man!” roared the doctor. “It’s a miracle you’re still alive!”
Red-faced, Grandpa yelled back, “And that’s not all! I ate a ten-pound box of Hershey bars, too!”
The doctor threw his hands up in resignation. After Grandpa left, he made a phone call to Grandma; the result was a chocolate-free diet for Grandpa. The rash went away.
It’s all true, and it’s the best chocolate story ever. If you think you can beat it, you are welcome to try.