LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — When I was a kid, Christmas wasn’t Christmas until the box of Black Magic chocolates appeared on the bar in the basement. It would usually show up around the beginning of December, and my brother and I would hover over it like flies until my dad pulled off the cellophane wrapper.
When he lifted the lid, there was the layer of crinkly protective paper lying like a stiff blanket atop the chocolates. We’d hungrily lift that too and there they were: little, pretty treasures nestled in a tray molded with custom-size cradles.
So familiar was I with the Black Magic box, I didn’t need to refer to the chocolate legend, although I did think it was thoughtful of the Black Magic people to include one. But I knew exactly what the orange cream looked like: draped in dark chocolate, the shape of a boomerang and two chocolate lines drawn decoratively across the top. I’d pick it up and sink my teeth in, the chocolate giving in to the tangy orange frosting inside.
I’d savor for a long minute, swallow and then immediately hunt for the strawberry dream: oval in shape, likewise encased in dark chocolate but with a twirl of milk chocolate looping across its top. Though it never tasted like strawberry very much, I’d love it until it was time for the coconut chocolate, held cupcake-style in a black wrapper.
There was two of each kind of chocolate in the Black Magic chocolate tray. After I’d had both creams, both dreams and both coconut confections is when the moral dilemma set in. There were still, after all, a lot of chocolates left in the tray: the one that had the nut in the middle and all those endless caramels. I’d half-heartedly chew on some of those before I’d lift the tray and put it on the table beside the couch. Before me lay another crinkly protective sheet.