Mars Bars: a Warning from History

There are no life lessons you can learn from Mars Bars or indeed any chocolate, but that doesn’t mean you should give up looking. I tell you now, chocolate has always been my Kryptonite but just lately it’s been my frustration and not for the weight-related issues you’ve just thought of. Thanks for that.

I am instead a discerning chocolate eater and I have been frustrated by a small thing, just the total betrayal of my entire life by the confectionary industry. That’s all. I want there to be a life lesson here, I want there to be something I can draw on as a writer, and I want that very badly because a) you won’t think I’m such an eejit and 2) it would be solace the next time I put those Mars Bars back.

I do put them back, that’s true. The writing life lesson is more of a stretch, but I do now regularly pick up a pack of Mars Bars in the supermarket and put them back with a howl that would startle a wolf. It would startle anyone, really, but wolves are professional howlers and that’s the level I’m howling at.

For have you seen Mars Bars these days? I’ve been worrying about sounding like a fool or a glutton, I might as well throw in something that makes me just sound old. Mars Bars used to be bigger in my day. Back in the war, when you walked to school over cobbled streets and the only computers were Windows PCs, at least you could count on your friends and on how Mars Bars were a decent size.

There are bigger problems in the world and throughout recorded history, chocolate bars have got smaller as they’ve got more expensive. Only this time the manufacturers have gone too far. Fine, make your bars smaller, see if I care, but this time they’re actively hiding the fact.

That’s why I have this cycle of picking them up and putting them back: try it yourself and see. Any pack of Mars Bars or of any chocolate bars at all will now be dramatically larger than the contents. Somehow the pack is padded, actually padded. You can feel it when you pick the thing up but you can’t see it until then: we are being lied to.

Well, I’m being lied to. You wouldn’t have that trim and toned body of yours if you were facing chocolate lies as often as I am. Thinking about it, I may have just gone off you.

I keep saying that this is happening now, that this conspiracy of confectioners is new, but it’s been happening for a long time, I’ve been noticing it for a long time. I think the reason it’s on my mind today may be because we’ve just had Easter, the great religious chocolate festival, but also because actually, yes, maybe, there is a writing life lesson here.

I’m part of a project called Prompted Tales wherein a group of us are tasked with writing a short story each month. The aim is get us focused, challenged and with a deadline as we all seem to respond to deadlines. The result so far is that we all have three short stories now that we didn’t before the start of the year. I’ve been thinking that’s rather good, I’ve been pretty happy with myself.

But as March’s Prompted Tales go live on the website throughout today, I’m reading them and I’m thinking that mine are lies.

I’m not wrong to have been happy with my January, February and March tales: I think they have something, I think they’re a good read, but I wonder today whether they just look like they’re stories. I don’t want to do myself down, especially not when I really enjoyed writing Departure Time, the story that will be published on the Prompted Tales website at 10:30 today.

But I look at the others being released and if they’re not wider or longer than mine, they have more in them. More depth, more chocolate, less packaging padding and it’s a sobering thing to see. It’s hopefully also an energising one as I’m currently clueless about what I’ll write for the April Prompted Tales but I know I’ll do something and I hope it will be the better for reading everyone else’s March stories.

Not easily, though. It won’t be easy. I think I need tea. And chocolate.