A Candy Story

Mmm, just like candy.

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.

The Beach.

The Beach.

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.

The Chocobabies.

The Chocobabies

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.

9 comments to A Candy Story

  • sarah

    Oh, how I miss cora mart! I think that every. single. one. of my school projects started with a bike ride to Cora Mart for supplies.

    • grayjames

      OMG! A fellow islander??? We probably know about a hundred people in common. What year did you graduate CHS?

      I loved that place so much. And the building still stands empty. :(

  • Aimee

    I started reading this, having first scrolled down to the see the picture of the chocolate baby, expecting that you would draw a parallel between chocolate babies and zombies. I’m relieved that you didn’t.

    My childhood self, though, is very jealous of the all-chocolate rolls of Necco wafers. I grew up very close to the Necco factory, and I don’t remember ever seeing such a thing. That is just WRONG that they had them on the West Coast and not on the east. I am filing a retroactive protest.

    • grayjames

      That is a great tragedy. How is it possible that living RIGHT THERE you wouldn’t have access to the delights of chocolate Neccos? From the website http://www.necco.com/ourbrands/default.asp

      “Natural Chocolate Necco Wafers now come in four yummy flavors including Dark, White, Milk and Mocha.”

      They owe them to you, seriously.

      • Aimee

        I know, RIGHT? I remember my father worked right near there, and sometimes we would go to pick him up at work and we’d be parked outside, with delicious sugary air floating in through the windows.

  • “When I ate the baby I ate the summer, the clouds and the water, the islands.
    This line was perfection. . .seriously.

  • Oh no one knows form Chcolate babies. They used to have them at the Rich’s Department Store Candy Counter, and they were my favorite thing for years. I have nto seen them in ages… if I ate a baby now it would be like eating my whole choldhood. *want*

  • Sarah

    Gray,
    Sadly, I did not graduate from CHS, for I was a commuter to Uni (now the gorgeous and palatial Cathedral HS), and graduated in ‘87. My sisters, tho, are proud alums, and we all spend much time on the Island (having made our parents pinky-swear never, ever to sell the house!) And somehow, the Vons just doesn’t hold the same appeal, does it?

    • grayjames

      No appeal at all. I remember when it was the Safeway.

      My mom lives on H, to this day. We used to live on Pine, but my parents moved away. They returned to Coronado to retire, maintaining that it was the best place they’d ever lived. Hard to argue with that statement.