The First Candy Bar and Other Stories

One of the things I love about living in Brooklyn is the great stuff you can find on the stoops and steps — left there by people who just want to pass it on. Yesterday I found an old Bon Appetit magazine from 1999 celebrating "The Century in Food." It's hard for me to think that there was actually a time when a good-hearted person could not buy a candy bar in America, but the first candy bars (specifically, Baby Ruth and O'Henry) didn't appear until 1920. But when they arrived, they caused a sensation. This year, 2010, the American candy bar is 90 years old. Whoo hoo!

It made me wonder about the origins of other things that I take for granted, like writing novels. I doubt the folks who told their stories with hieroglyphics ever did more than one draft because when you're dealing with rock, you'd better be sure you've got all the plot twists in your head before you start carving. But, once upon a time, there was a storyteller who wrote down his or her tale, showed it to another who made some suggestions, and boom, the first writer/editor relationship was born. Then one of them showed it to another person who said, "You know, I can sell this, but I need fifteen percent of the grain I'll get you for the story." And the first agent burst on the scene. Then along came someone else who said, "If I send six friends into the nearby villages to spread the word about your story, we might get some excitement building much quicker than if we sit here and look at each other." And the PR department blasted into being. None of this is helping me finish the next draft of my new novel, but I did feel a compelling urge to leave this on my stoop for those passing by.    

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