Christmas Memories "The Four Hundred Dollar Candy Bar"

Christmas Memories "The Four Hundred Dollar Candy Bar"

It was a cold December night, Monday December 9, 1985 to be exact (you don't forget nights like this), I was 9 years old and in fourth grade C.C.D. (religious education for public school kids), at Seven Holy Founders in Calumet Park. I loved C.C.D. class, had great friends, a cool teacher, the class was challenging but fun and always have something good at the end. That evening we had a trivia (which I won), and my prize was a large Nestle Crunch bar (it had to be half a pound or so), way more than one small 9 year old boy could enjoy in one sitting. But in the Christmas consumer spirit, I didn't share it with my friend Andre (sorry man), I ate it, all of it, as soon as I got home. I did notice my back was sore after I ate it (felt like I swallowed a concrete brick), but I drank some water, thought nothing of it and went to bed.

The next morning I went to Paul Revere School in South Shore where my mother taught (across the hall from my classroom), and it was a normal day, but then mid day during gym class, I noticed bumps on my arms, not like goosebumps when you're cold but big bubbles (it was giant hives), but I thought I have a few hours of school left, I'll be fine and went on with PE class.

Then after gym, I'm back in class and I'm getting hot (and unbeknownst to me), I'm turning bright red. My teacher (a close friend of my mother's), goes across the hall to get my mother and has her look at me. With a little over an hour of school left, my mother asked me if I could make it the rest of the day. I told her I could and I suffered through the last bit of the day, hot, now itching (like I rolled in poison ivy), and just feeling like a kid who ate his weight in milk chocolate night before.

My mother rushes me home and my father awaits, his remedy? Make a scalding hot bath filled with a milk carton of Walgreen's brand Epsom Salt and make me marinate in it. I felt like I was in the world's largest bowl of Cream of Wheat and to make matter worse, remember, I was already feeling like I had a fever.

After that didn't work, my parents figured out I must me having an allergic reaction to the massive candy bar from the night before. So my father drives us (at top speed in a 1975 Oldsmobile 98 in rush hour no less), through the streets of the southside from West Pullman on 123rd Street to the University of Chicago Hospital on 58th Street In Hyde Park. I was born at U of C (and that night, thought I might die there), and the doctors take a look at me and agree its an allergic reaction.

So I'm in the emergency room sitting on a bed and they give me one shot that cleared me up of all my symptoms quickly (so quickly it scared my mother because they said it could have stopped my heart), I then had Benadryl to take and some terrible cream that I had to be rubbed with that whole holiday season. Needless to say I didn't get any Christmas candy that year.

And later my parents got the medical bill from that adventure, $ 400.00 (remember its 1985), and from then on that incident was referred to as "The Four Hundred Dollar Candy Bar", speaking of barred, I didn't get any candy bars after that until I was in high school, turns out I'm not allergic to chocolate but that was more like an overdose, but it still tasted good when I ate it.

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Filed under: Chicago, Food

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    Charles W. Johnson

    I'm a lifelong writer (since I was 8 years old), and have been doing this blog in some form or fashion since 2004. I'm a DePaul University alum, class of 1999 and prior to that Brother Rice class of 1994. . And I appreciate you taking to the time to read what I have to say, feel free to email

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