It's been nearly three months since I first discovered the news, but it is only now that I finally possess the strength to publicly acknowledge and discuss it.
My darling mother, always concerned for my welfare and self esteem, found this article and rang me, her voice heavy with tact and love: "Kath, I think you're going to want to read this...."
No, no 'Bashing Barry's Big Day' but that Cadbury's chocolate factory tours are no more.
Y'see, I've long dreamed of visiting their factory tour and outlet in Tasmania and have been tantatalised by the tales of other such lucky souls - and by the heaving ten kilogram bag-loads of booty they've shared with me.
My mother visited there with her parents in 1960, and recalls being free to walk the factory floor, literally dipping her finger into whatever mixture took her fancy, tasting it and grabbing whatever she saw. No pesky little hygiene worries in those days. Her big green eyes glistened, and her hands automatically formed into grasping, bear-like paws when she told me this story, and believe me, she told it to me often when I was a child. As an adult, I can calculate the regularity of the tale being retold every four weeks, so clearly it was a PMS panacea for dear old Pauline. And who could blame her? This was the very woman who bought family-sized blocks by the tens when they were on special at Woolies; squirrelled away packets of Fantails in her bedside drawer and Fruit-n-Nut under her sewing machine.
In the freezing Tasmanian summer of 1983, we made the trek back to Tassie. I was glued to my Sony Walkman and busy sulking about enduring snow on the top of Mount Wellington and not being able to enjoy the sunshine in our neighbour's swimming pool. "Don't worry Kath, we'll be visiting the Cadbury factory as well you know." This promise was dangled in front of my terse teenaged face like a lifeline.
Imagine my disappointment when we pulled up to the nearby town's Information booth, only to be told that Cadbury crassly closed their factory to 'tourists' every summer. It was the way the lady said 'tourists' that really annoyed me. I wasn't a tatty tourist, I was a Devoted Pilgrim, seeking salvation and succulence at my spiritual home. OK yes, so I wasn't traveling on foot wearing sackcloth and ashes and was instead clad in a parka, levis cords and desert boots sitting in the relative comfort of our toyota landcruiser and 23 foot long caravan, but still, my young heart was yearning for the secret workings and tastings of the largest chocolate maker in the nation.
Twenty five years later, Love Chunks and I were recently talking about taking Sapphire on a drive-around-stay-in-bed-and-breakfasts-and-pretend-we're-in-England holiday to Tasmania in the next school break. Naturally, we'd slot in a visit to the Cadbury Factory of course. Bugger.
Sure my tastes have grown to encompass Lindt, Haighs, Nestle, Dove, Whittakers, Mars, Cocoa Farm, Fruchocs, Swiss Glory, Ferrero, Mahony, Red Tulip and Chocolatier, but we always remember our first love, don't we Precioussssss?
Still, I've managed to soldier on since discovering this sad news, and continue to be a legally-acceptable parent to Sapphire, mediocre wifey unit to Love Chunks, wear vaguely OK clothing out in public and pretty well function as a relatively normal member of society. However, whilst running on the treadmill this morning, I noticed the usual data on the screen:
Total distance: 7.00 kilometres
Time: 37 Min 03 seconds
After breakfast and a shower, I looked at the nutrition panel of the heavenly Haigh's milk chocolate coffee block pictured above, and my heart sank. This wee slice of bliss, in a mere 100g - or standard Kath-sized sample - contained a whopping 523 calories. All that exhausting, sweat-stinging-my-eyes, achilles-heel-hurting, lung-bustingly painful running only burned off an additional 117 crappy little calories.
So if I continue my chocaholism, all I can eat for the remainder of each day is an apple and a glass of milk.
Oh well, if that's the sacrifice I have to make, then so be it.