When I lived on Coronado there was a store, the most amazing and wonderful store ever seen off the continental United States. It closed in the early nineties to the great sorrow of all Coronado Islanders, many of whom still weep at the mention.
Cora Mart was a small to medium-sized general store on Orange Avenue, the “Main Street” of the island. The owners stocked dress patterns, dishes, greeting cards, small appliances, house paints and stains, fasteners, curtains, yarns, fabric and notions, tools, floating things for the beach, cheap lotions and cosmetics, bricks of cocoa butter, plastic bowl covers, cheap costume jewelry, art supplies, glassware, lampshades, shoes, shower curtains, candles, and everything else you might need but didn’t want to go off of the island to buy.
But they stocked no food. Unless you count the candy.
They had the old candies of my east coast early childhood: Sugar babies, Sugar mommas and Sugar daddies, Chick-o-stix, Abba Zabbas, Big Hunks, Red Hots, Jujubes, Tamales and Good and Plenty, Good and Fruity and Tootsie Rolls in three sizes, and west coast specialties that were new to me like Jolly Ranchers and flavored Stix.
Cora Mart sold all your basic candy bars and had a never-ending supply of PIXIE! STIX! They had purely chocolate rolls of Necco wafers, they stocked Ice Cubes but not in summer, sadly, for the chocolate was too creamy to ship well in the heat.
And they had Chocolate Babies.
My first summer out of high school I had only just turned seventeen. I babysat nearly every night for locals or for guests at the Hotel del Coronado. Many days I went to the beach. I’d mosey on down to the water at about ten o’clock with a towel, book, lotion, soda, lunch, and one candy. I’d alternately nap and body-surf until almost dinner time.
Chocolate Baby days at the beach were a solemn, celebratory affair. I sat up to eat them and held each one to the horizon until it matched the island in the above photo which has the exact same profile as the chocobaby. From the beach…it’s uncanny. It’s a religion.
When I ate the baby I ate the summer, the clouds and the water, the islands.