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Easter in Afghanistan

Easter Sunday 2011, we had a surprise visitor.  His arrival was preceded by a phone call from his mother in Montana.  She was trying to help her son find a chocolate company open on Easter Sunday so he could arrive at his girlfriend's house with an Easter treat in hand. 

Like almost all chocolatiers, we were not open on Easter Sunday.  But Easter is my favorite holiday and I've always been a sucker for a good romantic story.  "Tell him to come on by", I told his mother.  "We'll take good care of him."

About half an hour later, a charming, well-mannered young man knocked on our door.  We sold him a large signature sampler tin of South 'n France bon bons and sent him on his way.

The next week, I received a lovely thank you email from his mother telling me how much she appreciated our "kindness" on Easter Sunday.  She wrote:

"...his girlfriend loved the bonbons and he said neither of them had ever tasted anything so delicious. I look forward to ordering from you myself but wanted to thank you for showing such kindness to my son. His girlfriend was very impressed!.... I will be calling to place an order."

True to her word, she called and placed an order, asking us to ship bon bons to her and also to her sister.  Here was her reaction, sent in a follow-up email:

"OMG!! I just tasted the first bon bon out of the sampler I received. I can't even describe how delicious it was. I hate to admit that I thought a "bon bon" was the horrible thing my mother used to get with a sickening sweet center with waxy chocolate coating. I had no idea! The second sampler went to my sister who had an equally delightful experience. I called my son who started this whole thing and he said that he and his girlfriend share everything.  However, she asked to be excused from sharing the bon bons that he gave her for Easter. Thank you again for your kindness. The bon bons are beyond incredible."

This very enthusiastic lady (we looove her!) became a repeat customer, ordering bon bons again during the holiday season.  Fast forward to a couple of months ago.  I received an email via our website that read: 

"I don't know if you remember me, but I came into your shop last year on Easter Sunday. My fiance and I were coming back to Sneads Ferry from a weekend in Myrtle Beach and I couldn't find a single candy store that was open to get her Easter chocolate. You were incredibly welcoming and gracious to open for me even though you had already closed. My fiance absolutely loved your chocolates and to this day will not stop raving about them. We are both currently deployed to Afghanistan, but I know that your bon bons would mean the world to her as a special Easter gift. I will be placing an order tonight, but I wanted to tell you how great your service is and what a difference it will make for her."

I wrote this darling soldier and thanked him for his email, but explained that once again, he was asking us to bend policy.  As a general rule we do not ship to APO addresses because we cannot guarantee that our product will survive shipment via the military mail service and distribution in scorching Middle Eastern temperatures.  I thanked him for his service to our country and told him: "If you are willing to take the risk, knowing that we cannot make any guarantees for the condition the bon bons will be in when you receive them, we are willing to give it a try."

He replied that he understood, asked us to ship the bon bons, and promised to keep us up-to-date on their arrival, their condition, and his sweetheart's reaction.  And, he did.  He emailed us when the bon bons arrived in Afghanistan, saying that they appeared to be in perfect condition and the only 'problem' would be refraining from eating them as they sat in his fridge for the next few weeks until Easter. 

This week, he contacted us again with a message from his (now) wife.  She wrote:

"Last Easter (2011), my husband surprised me with South 'n France Bon Bons. I had never had them before and I wasn't sure what a bon bon was for that matter. Well, I tried the first one and fell in love [with them]. I actually loved them so much I had difficulty sharing with him.

Well, this year for Easter (2012) we were both deployed to Afghanistan, conveniently together. My husband asked me to come to his office one day so he could give me a gift. When I arrived, I saw him reach into the freezer. Knowing that Easter was just around the corner, I immediately guessed it... bon bons!!!! Of course I had to eat one of each to make sure they were still as good as I remembered (which they were). Once again, I had a tough time sharing with him

(Her husband interrupted here to tell us: "Last year she gave me 3 of 50; this year 0 of 30.")

She continues: "Maybe next Easter he will be lucky enough to have a bon bon."

Our favorite US Marine Corps 2nd Lieutenant went on to write:  "Thank you again for your remarkable service and incredible business.  Very Respectfully, R. Baldwin."

This story makes my tear up with pride and gratitude.  Lieutenant, we are the ones thankful for the remarkable service you, your wife, and your colleagues are providing for our country.  And, we are very, very proud that our humble little bon bons could bring you a little bit of sweetness and joy on Easter Sunday in Afghanistan.  Godspeed to all of you, and please come to visit us when you return to the States.  We'll make sure that you finally get your own bon bons to enjoy.

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