Slice of Life Tuesday: Lessons from the Chocolate Stash

The stash, after a single day. Learn what you will.

Upstairs, at one of my two schools, in the copy room, there sits a green plastic basket under a sticker on the wall that reads, “Chocolate doesn’t ask silly questions. Chocolate UNDERSTANDS.”

Can you feel the love?

There are a few of us who tend to be the chocolate fairies of this particular basket. For my part, I like to purchase a big fat ol’ bag of candy favorites from Costco each time I go. I find that I can fill the basket about three times from each bag. Here’s what I’ve learned from years of filling the chocolate basket:

Non-chocolate in the chocolate basket is an abomination. You *might* be able to squeak by with snack packs of Skittles, but seriously, folks. Don’t be putting your SweeTarts and hard candies in here. No one has the time for that kind of negativity in their lives.

The pacing of chocolate consumption is a barometer for staff morale. Sometimes, the goodies I dump in will last a full week. During report card, conference or standardized test seasons, I can fill the basket in the morning and it’s slim pickin’s by lunchtime.

There is a definite pecking order. I have found, when observing the progress of the chocolate basket, that certain treats get snapped up faster than Springsteen tickets. In order of popularity, we have:
Peanut M&M’s
100 Grand Bars
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Just about everything else
Milky Way

Milky Way is the scourge of the chocolate world. It never fails. No matter how quickly the chocolate stash gets depleted, there are always five or six Milky Way bars that refuse to find a home. I mean, eventually the chocolate ecosystem balances out. SOMEbody likes Milky Ways, and people end up grabbing them. Some day I’d love to buy a big value pack of Milky Way bars, dump it in and see what happens. But I don’t, because I love my colleagues too much.

Chocolate is bad for us. And that doesn’t matter. Even if we don’t partake of the goodies in the copy room, sometimes it’s enough to look in that basket and remember that there’s someone who wants to take care of us. Someone who knows the contents of that wrapper won’t bring contentment, relief from the unrelenting obligations and pressure of teaching, or a sense of agency when we feel powerless – but knows it will brighten our day nonetheless. And that knowledge brings with it a satisfaction similar to the crunch of that candy shell.

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25 Responses to “Slice of Life Tuesday: Lessons from the Chocolate Stash”

  1. haitiruth Says:

    Fascinating research. I only have one complaint, and that is your claim that chocolate is bad for us. I reject that categorically. It makes me smile so it must be good, right? Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Ah yes! Chocolate is WONDERFUL for the soul. I’m guessing the super dark chocolate is better for our bodies, but even the run-of-the-mill milk chocolate feeds the morale.

  2. Amanda Potts Says:

    This is hilarious: I chuckled my way right through it. Milky Way is, indeed, the unloved child of the chocolate basket world, and there is no reason for anyone to put hard candy in a chocolate basket. And chocolate = caring. One of our oldest teachers brings candy to class every Friday and keeps a giant stash in his office for when teachers need it. Needless to say, he is beloved by all. In fact, maybe I’ll run over there now & grab a chocolate.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      That sounds like a WONDERFUL plan. I hope you savored and enjoyed that chocolate even more today! I do know that the principals who have kept chocolate stashes in their office have been quite popular. Not to mention the fact that it draws folks in for conversation and checking in. =)

  3. Stacey Shubitz Says:

    Nothing is more disappointing than a basket of non-chocolate candy. It’s gotta be chocolate if I’m going to indulge!

    I do find that bag interesting since it’s a mix of Hershey’s and Mars candies. (We live near Hershey so I’ve been Team Hershey ever since we moved to Central PA 11.5 years ago.)

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Ah yes! I noticed that too. It must be some kind of deal that Costco has reached with its suppliers. All I know is, WE are on the bonus end of that deal!

  4. arjeha Says:

    I guess I am the odd man out. I like Milky Way and if they are kept in the refrigerator where they are cold and you could break a tooth on them all the better. I think chocolate consumption is a great barometer of mental health. Love this post.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      You see? You’re one of the miraculous souls who helps balance out the candy ecosystem! If we ever meet, I’ll bring you a bag. =)

  5. jcareyreads Says:

    Love this. I have a candy in my room and what you write here is truth…evidence that your theories hold true across schools.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Yes! And…I still remember when we as teachers were able to give candy to our students – I always had a jar of gummy bears that came in VERY handy. =)

  6. Maureen Y Ingram Says:

    I know that chocolate stash is much loved! Yes – “there’s someone who wants to take care of us”…it is love wrapped in chocolate!

  7. Jonathan Rivera Says:

    This is such a great post! It was so funny and well written. I like how you put in careful details about what the chocolate means in and above. You’re a great observer. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Anna Maria Says:

    “Chocolate understands.” YES IT DOES! We have a stash in our workrooms too & just like yours you can always tell when we’re stressed. Or we’re feeling overwhelmed and drowning in work. As you pointed out Milky Way is the unpopular chocolate of choice. In our stash every so often someone will contribute a large amount of Lindt Lindor Chocolates. Those are usually gone within 15 minutes of everyone in my wing finding out they’re in the basket.

  9. britt Says:

    I love this so much! I have always (since childhood) claimed Reese’s to be my favorite candy, but I finally realized just a few months ago….it is not. Honestly, this was a rather earth-shattering discovery. The pandemic has been quite revealing 🙂

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      WHOA. That’s…big news! So now I have to know now. What has taken the crown of Britt’s favorite candy now? Or is that like asking you to pick a favorite kid?

  10. Fran Haley Says:

    One year my mom gave my aunt some stationery that said: “If there’s no chocolate in heaven, I’m not going.” My family would take all of this post quite seriously! When I’ve had to do required pd for teachers (sigh), I’ve purchased chocolate and put it on the tables. I got much better evaluations (LOLOLOLOL).

    But.

    I hope this can be forgiven…

    [imagine teeny tiny font]: I actually like Milky Ways!

    ok, ok – they’re not my first choice (that would probably be, hmm, king-size Reese’s with Reese’s pieces in them, or Peppermint Patties, or lots of any of it, really) – but I will willingly choose them.

    I suppose that means I am one of the “balancers” of the world. Like producers and decomposers, or something.

    Anyway – adored this, every word. Told throughout in your masterful storyteller, witty way.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      See? We need YOU to make the chocolate world go ’round. And no, there’s nothing wrong with chocolate bribery. Let’s call it the “price of admission.” By the way…have you tried the GIANT Reese’s cups? The 1/2 pound ones? They’re a great thing to try…once.

      • Fran Haley Says:

        😳 ummmmm… now that I know… (sneaks out to store under cover of night…)

      • Lainie Levin Says:

        It literally takes a knife to cut through it. My takeaway? Too much chocolate for the peanut butter. But it takes all kinds to make this world go round!

  11. Alice Says:

    I keep a stash of chocolate in my office for teachers to snag when they need a pick me up. One teacher hits the stash frequently because she knows it’s “fresh” chocolate, not the leftovers from faculty meetings months before. Of course, right now our faculty meetings are all virtual, but I still have a stash of fresh chocolate just for her.

  12. natashadomina Says:

    I love this post because it’s SO TRUE! You have the true measure of what’s important in schools! And I love the way you capture the complexity of emotions and dynamics in a school in a way.

    • Lainie Levin Says:

      Thank you! I may have a follow-up post to this one. Spoiler alert: a NEW candy bar has replaced Milky Way as the bottom of the barrel…

  13. Poetry Month Day 6: On the Natural (Dis)Order | Soapbox: The Way I see Things Says:

    […] Slice of Life challenge about the need for a strong, steady chocolate stash in a school. I stand by what I wrote, even if my observations this week speak to the […]

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