The Candy Shop

When I was in kindergarten, all I wanted to do was spend my time in the little play store in the corner of the classroom. I’d load the plastic food into brown paper bags for my classmates, take their play money, and drop it in the little red cash register that dinged when the drawer popped open. At my parent teacher conference, my teacher, Mrs. Brooks, told my mom I was a born salesman. She also said I needed to do a better job sharing the cash register.

photo by Lennart Guillet

Mrs. Brooks was right. My whole life I always wanted to have my own little store – a candy shop. Over the front door there’d hang a tinkly bell. The counters would be covered with thick glass jars with fancy lids and labels. I never got my shop, but I did buy myself some giant candy jars.

Every year, I fill the jars up and set them out around my home. I change the candy for the season: Reese’s eggs for Easter, candy corn for Thanksgiving, peppermints for Christmas. The candy is just for show. Year after year, I display the same sweets. When I moved to Budapest, I had to bring my jars with me. I couldn’t leave them behind.

My friends in Hungary like to tease me about the “candy shop” in my apartment. It’s my own fault, I guess. I probably shouldn’t have let them help me unpack my shipment when it arrived in Budapest to see that four of the twenty moving boxes were marked: candy. I’m sure it also didn’t help that at my first Christmas party in Budapest my new friend Michelle reached into one of the jars, bit into a Peppermint Patty before I could stop her, and cried, “How old are these?” The room grew silent. “…Nine years,” I answered. Everyone laughed. I was glad Michelle hadn’t asked about the candy canes. They were older.

That same year in Budapest, I was pushing my cart through the grocery store one day when I came upon an aisle full of Santas wrapped in shiny red foil. What’s this? Picking one up, I discovered that they were hollow chocolates! Big, small, fat, thin, there were dozens of different sizes and shapes. Later I learned that the foiled little men were not actually Santa Clauses but figures of St. Mikulás. In Hungary, St. Mikulás comes on December 6. Children clean their shoes and set them in the windowsill for Mikulás to fill up with sweets.

These chocolates will be perfect for my candy jars, I thought. It was high time I changed my candy anyway. My decade-old Brach’s peppermints were all stuck together, and the white stripes on my candy canes had turned pink. If I had another Peppermint Patty disaster, I could kill a friend.

Delighted with my new find, I started loading up my cart with dozens and dozens of the chocolate Mikuláses. I couldn’t wait to get them home.

Just as I was finishing up, I heard someone say my name. “Phil!” the voice said, cheerily. It was my friend Lori from school. She’d been at my Christmas party.

Uh oh. She’s going to comment on all this candy.

“Whoa!” Lori said, staring down at my cart. “You’ve certainly got a lot of chocolates there.”

Cringing, I gave a nervous laugh. Here it comes.

“Are they for your students?” she asked.

I looked up and smiled. “…Yes…yes! That’s right…for my students. They’ve been very good this year.”

14 thoughts on “The Candy Shop

  1. Hi Phil,

    I was so delighted to read your chapter of Candy Shop! It doesn’t have a tradition in Hungary so I was pretty much surprised and impressed when I figured it out in London that they love candies!!! Not just beer and fish & chips.
    I was working in a Sweet shop for over a year! It was fun to meet so many people! Both young and older people got so excited to see and get there favourites! How can I post you a picture?

  2. I was happy to read a post this morning! As always…love to read your stories. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and I hope you get to eat a few FRESH pieces of candy!

  3. Phil, I’ve been in your apartment and whatever the season, it is beautifully and TASTEfully! decorated. The candy jars bring back lots of memories for me – we had a great candy shop with such jars, near our cottage in Ontario. Thanks for sharing your memories. I always look forward to your next blog entry. Merry Christmas! xxx

  4. MERRY CHRISTMAS PHIL!! You must write one of these days about all the wonderful children shows that you have directed. This time of year reminds me of The Nutcracker show we did. It was soooo good. You created, and I carried the “big stick” :) :) LOVE sent your way. Ardis

  5. Have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful NEW’ 13. Kellemes karacsonyi Unnepeket es nagyon boldog , vidam magyaros ujesztendot kivanok.

  6. So funny! Don’t come between a man and his candy!! Reminds me of a little o’ shop of candy at the MGM in Las Vegas when i was a kid…

  7. Hey, I am from Hungary I have been living at the USA for two years. I love reading an American experience in Hungary :-) . Enjoy your life there as much as you can :-) !

  8. Phil, I can’t believe you never ate any of the candy. So glad you got some new chocolate in Budapest. I laughed out loud at the end. :-)

  9. Both Mikulás and Santa are actually Saint Nicholas… :-) The name got translated is all. The only difference is that in all of Europe Santa brings presents on the 6th of Dec. while little baby Jesus on the 24th.

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