I Was a Juvenile Cacoa Dealer

Call it the entrepreneurial nature of youth. Or desperation. Call it a laziness that meant I didn't have to drag my 13-year-old butt down gray Jersey streets for hours, alone, in the bleak autumn chill.

Call it meeting local market demand. Or easy money.

Hey, call it "Clarence," if you like.

But under this mild-mannered exterior...

Below this honors student halo and within these polished shoes of goody-two...

There lurked a flagrant rules-violator and illegal goods pack mule at the institution of learning we'll call Edgar Allen Poe High School.

And the benefits far outweighed any burden on my teenage conscience.

Yes... you guessed it... I was dealing in...

Band Candy.

"Do you have it? Do you have the stuff?"

Tanya "The Moo" Mueller was a big-boned, big-chested, big-bellied, big-fisted girl with thighs like a junkyard car crusher. She'd sooner block tackle you as look at you. I knew; a few of my friends had unwillingly played her tackle dummy.

But "The Moo" and I had found unexpected common ground. Yes, each time her great shadow would fall over me in the girl's locker room like an indoor solar eclipse, oh, I'd still flinch...

I'd still anticipate knuckles against my newly braces-free teeth. But what I'd get was a twenty tucked hastily into my hand. As long as I had those band candy chocolate bars... that sweet, sweet sugar rush... I had immunity.

High school was survival of the fittest and while The Moo could never be called fit, I could count on her candy addiction to keep me safe.

So my stash was secreted in my book bag. Who would ever suspect Miss Priss wasn't carrying thick tomes of Earth Science, American History, Language Arts and copies of Le Petite Prince?

Perhaps the vague whiff of mint or peanut butter might linger as telltale evidence... But nothing more... nothing more.

I was careful. I had a rep for being discreet.

So buys were made in hasty pre- and post-class rushes, slipped carefully from bag to purse, under desks, between the covers of Trapper Keepers bearing innocent kittens or rainbows. Thanks to the overall student body, plus "The Moo's" cravings, why sometimes 30-50 bars a day would change hands.

The Crispies, the Almond Bliss, the Peanut Blasts, the Mint Mind-Melts... Each one had its buyers, and I made sure the shipments kept rolling in.

Now you probably wonder-- do I feel no guilt as an illicit choco-trafficker? Do I feel no adult pang of regret over abusing the which rules our educational administration so deeply entrusted me with? Do I feel no remorse over contributing to The Moo's obvious food addiction? Or the wasteful spending of hard-earned allowances for which my smuggled goods were exchanged?

And the answer is... nah. I made it over the border to Canada. I high-tailed it to Florida once. These were, of course, pre-scheduled band trips I'd funded with the chocolate bar dough. But still.

Everyone has their price. And mine was $1 for plain, $2 for specialty.

Question for the day: Any other former band members here? And what, if anything, did you have to sell for your fundraisers?



Claire said...

Please forgive me, I briefly thought that you had committed a typo! I was shocked at first, because it is you and you don't do things like that.

So of course I googled 'Cacoa' and was relieved to know that your record for excellent spelling stands.

(I was trying to be a smart arse and correctify you)

I am confused (no surprise), why was the candy forbidden anyways?

Jenn Thorson said...

Claire- We weren't allowed any sort of candy in class. And we also weren't allowed to sell things in school. So really, I was committing TWO no-nos. Of course, my buyers were all really good about not eating the candy out in the open. So we managed.

Funny, but even my MOTHER knew I was doing this, and figured it wasn't a bad idea. Particularly when she saw the fundraising money I was bringing in.

Claire said...

Another question! Why did you have so much candy and what has that got to with fund-raising? I feel a cultural divide setting in.

Jenn Thorson said...

Claire- School marching bands here tend to go on yearly trips to play somewhere-- often places like Disney World-- and it's a few days somewhere fun for an hour or so of band presentation.

So, in order to raise some of the money and make it cheaper for the students, we sold things-- often it was candybars from a particular company (very yummy chocolate) but we also sold jewelry from a catalog, and cheese/sausage stuff, other things.

A lot of kids would have their parents bring the order forms or candy to their work to sell, but my family wasn't into that. So I'd have to go door to door in the neighborhood selling things...

Until I figured out I could secretly deal in school, that is. :)

ennuiherself said...

My HS band sold citrus: oranges and grapefruit.

It's odd that you weren't allowed to have candy and/or sell things. I openly sold my Girl Scout cookies at school.

Jenn Thorson said...

Ennui- Ah, yes-- good one, citrus was really big with bands there for a while. We might have done it once, but I might also be misremembering that.

You bring up an interesting point, too--

I'd love to know how many other folks were allowed, or weren't allowed, to sell stuff at school for fundraisers.

Floormodel said...

I knew you had an evil side :D

Karen said...

When I was a Brownie we had to deal cookies for our summer camping. Back then you actually GOT some cookies for your three bucks, and after I had slaked the family's cravings (Samoas and Thin Mints) I would troll the neighborhood as directed by my mother, who had a photographic memory for whose kids she'd caughed up for and how much. Plus my Dad nailed all his work buddies whose kids he'd supported too. I always did real well with it. Plus I had two adorable (gack!) siblings who would ride in my little red wagon of cookies and look cute (price, one box each), which upped my sales considerably with the older folk.

Jenn Thorson said...

Floormodel- Heh, that's about as evil as it gets! :)

Karen- Oh, those wonderful Girl Scout cookies-- and samoas in particular. They ARE like drugs, crack maybe. I swear there's something in them. :)

Sounds like you had quite an effective racket going on there, too-- I'm impressed! :)

Claire said...

Oh nothing like that happens over here, the fund-raising or the marching bands actually!

I have seen the girl scout cookies referenced in a lot of movies and tv shows, so they seem very surreal to me lol.

Jenn Thorson said...

Claire- Yeah, I hadn't thought about it until you mentioned it, but I suppose it is a very specific American sort of thing. And we've got to figure out a way to swing you some Girl Scout cookies sometime. They are worth tasting at least once.

Anonymous said...

Oh, good grief! I remember having to sell boxes of chocolate bars in high school for French Club. I usually ended up eating whole box, and asking my parents for the money to pay for it.

Probably why I'm not a big chocolate eater today.

Jenn Thorson said...

Bon Jour, M. Mad Texter!- I'm sorry classe de Francaise ruined chocolate for you. Was it French, or at least Belgian, chocolate? As I recall the Italian club had to sell Toblorone. :)

Deray said...

For the band we did a few barbecues, hamburgers or roasted chicken were very popular. For the trip to Tucson (who would have thought I would end up living here), of the English club we did a dance, I was outside the disco place shivering for a couple of hours to sell the tickets.

I have never tried the scout girls cookies. Are they really that good?

Jenn Thorson said...

Deray- Oh, wow, you had some really nice events! (We did have a car wash, and a fashion show, both of which were kind of strange to work at.)

I love the Girl Scouts Samoas-- they're chocolate, caramel and coconut. But their Peanut Meltaways are lovely, too. Sort of like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup except more cookie-ish. YUM.

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

I had no idea I had met....a "drug" dealer!

Knucklehead said...

We sold lots of candy in my band days, but that wasn't the worst of it. We also sold cheese, candles, and shampoo.


Anonymous said...

We made hoagies and frozen pizzas (two afternoons of assembly right before delivery). I had people on my block who years later would ask if I had any pizzas from band. We sold Mother's Day corsages, and made weird crafts to sell at the school fair.

And of course we did the candy bars (and everyone sold at school). We got to go to Niagara Falls for a band trip/parade.

But what I really rocked at was Girl Scout cookie sales. Door-to-door, selling to the nurses at the hospital when I was waiting for visiting hours to be over because of the visiting policy. Yes, I went to camp every year, and knew that the camp was being paid by my sweat equity.