I love bargains and I’m willing to try just about any new system to get something for practically nothing. Extreme couponing? Check. Dumpster diving? Of course (and don’t worry, I’ll tell that story later). Back in the early 1980’s I got a mailing from Publisher’s Clearing House and while entering their giveaway for hundreds of thousands of dollars, I subscribed to a sweepstaking newsletter. When I got it, I was kind of underwhelmed – it was just several pages of different sweepstakes to enter – no pictures or instructions or anything! However, I did enter a couple of sweepstakes and, if I remember correctly, I won a prize pack from Lawry’s that included a few packets of seasoning mix and a cookbook.
Fast forward to nearly 15 years later when I re-discovered sweepstaking. I can’t really recall how I came across the hobby again, but this time I decided to get serious. I subscribed to another newsletter and this time it came with instructions and tips. I found a sweepstakes club and we met once a month to discuss the hobby, local contests, and any winnings. My family, to be frank, thought I was nuts (not the first time and certainly not the last). Even my kids thought I was wasting my time and, when I got my first win (a Cap’n Crunch plastic watch), they ridiculed me mercilessly. However, then the good wins began – I first won a video camera, then some trips and even a car! Who’s laughing now suckers!
If you asked about my most memorable win, it would have to be the car (but that is another story). However, the win that was the most fun was probably the 50 pound chocolate bar. The chocolate bar was delivered in a wooden crate from World’s Finest Chocolate – the same people who make the more manageable sized chocolate bars for fundraising. It was about two feet long, 10 inches wide, and 4-5 inches deep. This was a chocolate ALMOND bar, which was thrilling – because if there is anything better than chocolate, it is chocolate with nuts! The almonds had sunk to the bottom half of the bar, so it was extra nutty for those who liked that, and there was plenty of plain milk chocolate for the strange people who liked that sort of thing. It even had a personalized label that had my name on it (I have that stored in the attic somewhere).
The kids were just about jumping out of their skins with excitement – because that is a ton of chocolate (OK, not a ton, but 50 pounds)! Everyone wanted a piece and I was happy to oblige, except for one small problem – I couldn’t break off a piece. One of the kids ran to get a butcher knife (if you haven’t figured it out already, I’m not always a role model for motherhood) – but that just scratched the surface. The kids were all for just squatting down and gnawing on a corner, but I nixed that idea (because I do have some standards). Then we had an epiphany! I grabbed a large, flathead screwdriver and a hammer from the garage and used it like I was Michelangelo sculpting David. The chiseling broke of a hunk, which I was then able to break up into smaller pieces about the size of a golf ball, which was good enough for all concerned.
After gorging on chocolate and falling into a sugar coma, the next day was spent breaking up the remainder of the chocolate bar, bagging it, and putting it into the pantry and the freezer. It was my first ever one-year’s supply of anything and my Mormon genes were cheering at the fact that, should there ever be some sort of chocolate shortage, I was prepared