Monday, October 26, 2009

Sweet Childhood Memories

I was recently reminiscing about my favorite childhood meal: a Swanson's chicken pot pie washed down with a bottle of RC Cola with a Hostess cupcake for dessert. (Mind you, I had this dream dinner once and only once and, to this day, I'm suspicious of why my mom served it to me and me alone.)

When Thomas Wolfe wrote, "You can't go home again," I think he was talking about childhood food memories. Frozen pot pies are now inedible and Hostess cupcakes haven't been worth the calories ever since they stopped using lard. RC Cola in a glass bottle is still a treat, if you can find it.

But I've found one favorite that's stood the test of time: the Mallo Cup. Were Mallo Cups a part of your childhood? The milk chocolate with hints of coconut? The whipped creamy, marsh-malloey center? The promise of wealth in the form of play money?

During our recent trip to West Virginia and Ohio, I found these at Cracker Barrel. I ripped into the trademark red, yellow and brown wrapper and temporarily tossed the chocolate candies aside. I was going for the fake money and was relieved to see that it was still there.
I scored two 5-cent cards and wondered how much more I'd need to redeem a prize.

"Must save 500 points"

The answer: 490 more points would score me a $1.00 rebate check (enough to purchase one more Mallo Cup package of two).
Who in their right mind would purchase a hundred Mallo Cups for a $1.00 rebate? That has got to be the worst return on investment since Bernie Madoff's pyramid came tumbling down. The postage alone to mail the cardboard coins would approach a buck.

Man, was I wrong. According to the Boyer Company website (Grammar, punctuation and capitalization are the work of the Boyer Company):
  • Consumers continue to save Play Money for over 73 years. Over 5 % of all play money is redeemed nationwide!
  • The Largest Amount of Play Money redeemed by a single consumer was in 2006 a gentleman from Uniontown Ohio mailed in enough coin cards to receive a $353.00 Check! That's 176,659 points saved (That's a lot of candy!)
Today I spoke with Angel from the Boyer Company and learned the following (Grammar, punctuation, capitalization and statistical analysis are mine):
  • Mallo fans can also redeem their play money for actual prizes. The minimum number of coin cards needed is 2,500. (Now that's a lot of candy.)
  • The 1-cent and 1-dollar coin cards are no longer printed.

Photo courtesy of
  • Boyer prints the coin cards in a continuous roll with the following order repeating endlessly: 5, 10, 5, 25 and 50-cent piece.
  • That means that your chances of getting a 5-cent card are twice as great as drawing a 10, 25 or 50. (You have a 20% chance of 10, 25 or 50 and a 40% chance of drawing a 5.)
  • Your chances of drawing a 10, 25 or 50 card are equal. This surprised me because getting a 50-cent piece was once like winning the Golden Ticket.
Of course, I'm sure the folks at Boyer would say that everyone's a winner who bites into a gooey, delicious Mallo Cup. And I'd have to agree with that 100%. Just the same, I wouldn't mind getting that $1.00 check in the mail. I could buy a bag of Sour Patch Kids.

(What's your favorite childhood candy?)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hometown Hospitality

I love my home town of Ravenswood, West Virginia, but it's not exactly a destination city. (It's more like a departure city, a place you plan to leave.) And that's too bad because the small town (population 4,000) has a bed and breakfast that I'd be tempted to visit even if I didn't have family in that bend of the river.

Chestnut Acres B&B, located on chestnut-lined Chestnut Lane, is a turn-of-the-last century mansion that's been spit polished to perfection. The Inn also includes a comfortable two-bedroom, two-bath cottage that was built on the chestnut-wooded property more than a century later. All of this is just a stone's throw away from a family of wild deer and the meandering Ohio River.

The Ohio River and view from the living room

Hospitality and trust: hallmarks of a small-town business

When I called to make a reservation for the cottage, I was disappointed to learn that the owners would be out of town. No problem, they assured me. They would leave the door of the cottage unlocked and the refrigerator stocked with bacon and biscuits and sausages and eggs and juices and sodas and, well, you get the idea. The staff checked in on us every day and even delivered fresh-baked cookies one afternoon.

All of this for a rate of $85/night for two people and an additional $20/night for the third adult.

Chestnut Acres has all the virtures to turn it into a favorite West Virginia destination. Chances are, you may never want to depart.

Chestnut Acres Bed & Breakfast
One Chestnut Lane

Ravenswood, WV 26164