I had such a severe food craving last night, I honestly began to empathize with pregnant women.
The object of my desire was one of my friend Nancy’s homemade brownies. I actually was tempted to call her and bribe her with everything from money to gifts to convince her to whip up a batch for me. But I decided that if I wanted to preserve our friendship, I’d be better off just suffering in silence – especially since it was after 11 PM.
But that wasn’t the first time I’d craved brownies. I can remember a few years ago when my craving for one was so bad, I actually became obsessed to the point of desperation. But back then I didn't know Nancy, so my craving was for a different brownie….an individually wrapped, Peggy Lawton fudge brownie.
When I was a kid, I loved the Peggy Lawton brand of brownies. They were only 10 cents each and plain - no frosting on top or big walnuts inside. Just a nice chewy brownie with no fancy or artificial ingredients. I used to deplete my allowance by buying at least four a week for snacks.
Anyway, as I said, I suddenly developed a severe craving for a Peggy Lawton brownie one night a few years ago. I was sure they’d probably be about 69 cents by then, definitely not 10 cents, if they even were still being manufactured, it had been so long. But heck, my craving was so bad, I probably would have paid 69 dollars for one at that point.
I started my search in the small corner stores and larger variety stores. They did have individually wrapped brownies and even some homemade ones wrapped in cling-wrap, but no Peggy Lawton brownies.
When I expressed my frustration to my husband, after a hard day of futile brownie searching, he seemed eager to help…too eager.
“I remember those brownies from way-back-when,” he said, his eyes suddenly getting a hungry, faraway look. “I’ll be more than happy to drive you around to look for them…as long as you buy a couple for me, too!”
“You’re on a low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar heart diet!” I reminded him. “No wonder you’re so eager to help me!”
Fate works in strange ways, however. The very next day, I was picking up a few groceries at Shaw’s in Hooksett when, to my utter disbelief, I came face to face with a display of Peggy Lawton brownies and cookies stacked on a rack at the end of an aisle! I just stood there, staring at them, blinking my eyes to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I actually had to wipe the drool from the corner of my mouth. A big supermarket was the last place I’d expected to find an individually wrapped brownie. A whole box of them maybe, but not an individual one.
Very carefully, I selected just ONE brownie - one that was perfectly shaped, with no squished corners. I know I probably could have gobbled down about six of them at that point, but I decided to be strong and satisfy my craving with only one brownie…and savor every bite. I knew if I bought more, I’d inhale them like a Hoover, so I used restraint.
And it was sheer torture.
All the way home in the car, I imagined the brownie calling out to me from the bag. Every mile or so, I had to suppress the urge to pull over, grab it out of the bag, tear the wrapper to shreds with my teeth and then swallow the brownie in two bites. But no, I kept telling myself, I was going to be patient and wait until after dinner, then slowly enjoy my hard-earned treasure with a nice cup of tea.
Not until I arrived home and began to put the groceries away did I realize that none of the grocery bags contained my brownie! Panicking, I shook the bags. No brownie fell out. I checked my register receipt and sure enough, the brownie was listed on there (at 34 cents). I dashed out to the car and checked the seat cracks, the floor, underneath the seats, and even underneath the car. I retraced every one of my steps into the house.
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
I had my poor dog in a headlock and was looking down her throat with a flashlight when my husband came out of the bedroom and asked me what on earth I was doing.
“Looking for my brownie!” I cried. “This dog eats everything. I’ll bet the brownie fell out of the bag and she scooped it right up and gulped it down, wrapper and all!”
“Why don’t you just stick your nose into her mouth and see if she has chocolate on her breath?” he teased.
I wasn’t amused.
By 11:00 that night, I thoroughly had searched the car two more times. I became snappy and irritable. I couldn’t even concentrate on TV because the missing brownie was all I could think about. I mean, of all the things I bought that day, why did the brownie have to be the item that was missing? Why couldn't it have been the jar of mustard or the single tomato? Talk about fate being cruel and sadistic.
It was nearly midnight when I finally couldn’t take it any longer and said to my husband, “That does it! I’m going to Shaw’s to buy another brownie, otherwise I won’t be able to sleep tonight!”
“No way are you going out at this hour for a dumb brownie!” he protested. “Besides that, Shaw’s is closed.”
“The Shaw’s in Concord is open 24 hours!” I shot back, grabbing my purse. “And this time, I’m buying a week’s supply of brownies!”
Shaking his head in an “I married a crazy woman!” manner, he sighed and said, “If you’re nutty enough to actually go to Shaw’s at this hour, then at least let me drive you.”
I didn’t argue.
We arrived at Shaw’s in Concord, only to find the store dark. Obviously, it no longer was open 24 hours a day. I was so upset, my husband had to stop me from pounding on the windows and threatening a stock clerk to let me in. So we drove around for a while and finally found a supermarket that still was open. I dashed inside.
“Do you carry Peggy Lawton brownies?” I asked the first clerk I saw.
“Yes, we do,” he said. “Over at the end of the freezer aisle.” He led the way, as I, grinning like the Cheshire cat, excitedly followed him.
“Oh, sorry,” he said, frowning, when we finally reached the freezer aisle...that had an empty rack at the end of it. “The distributor hasn’t come in yet. We’re all out.”
I honestly wanted to lunge at him and strangle him with my bare, brownie-withdrawal trembling hands for cruelly getting my hopes up. Instead, I smiled, thanked him and stormed back out to the car. I whined all the way home.
“If I were you, I’d take it as an omen,” my husband said, trying to console me. “The brownie recipe probably has changed over the years and it’s full of high-fructose corn syrup now or other stuff that will make the brownies taste like crap and give you stomach cramps.”
I refused to believe a word of it. Peggy Lawton never would do that to me.
At the time, I was writing a regular newspaper column, so the next day, I wrote about my midnight search for the elusive brownie.
And three days later, I received a complimentary case of Peggy Lawton brownies from the company itself! After I opened the box, I, crying tears of joy, gobbled down three brownies in 43 seconds – and they were just as moist, chewy and delicious as I’d remembered them from my childhood.
So, if either my friend Nancy or someone at Peggy Lawton’s is reading this, I’m still craving brownies…and I’m presently accepting free samples.
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Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science-fiction. Contact her at: email@example.com.