Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Personal Narrative - My Middle School Candy Empire

I recently attended a workshop on teaching writing. As part of the workshop we were tasked with writing a personal narrative. We brainstormed the ideas for our narratives by drawing a map of our neighborhood and then noting on the map where some of the interesting memories that popped up in our minds occurred. 

Since I took the time to write it, I thought I'd post my narrative here for anyone with a burning desire to get to know me a little better! Please forgive the fact that I have only mildly edited the piece for any typos/errors. I was afraid that if I edited too much that I might be tempted to change the story! Sadly, this entire story is true. Haha.

When I was in 4th grade I managed to hobble together ten dollars and seventy cents that I had earned from odd jobs. I had been saving it up for quite a while for a specific purpose. I had a plan. Months before I had noticed that the Wal-Mart down the street from my house had 10 lb bags of jolly ranchers for sale for $10. At one buck a pound I knew that was a great deal, and I saw great potential in that colorful bag of sugar.

I walked up to the check out counter with my money and the giant bag of jolly ranchers, and the tired looking checkout lady said, "How you gonna eat all this candy, boy?" I nervously chirped, "Oh, it's not for me," slapped my money down on the counter and rushed away before the receipt was even finished printing. I lugged the bag all the way home in my bookbag and hid it in the closet in my room. The next morning I took out a handful of jolly ranchers and headed to school. 

In my first class I showed the handful to a few kids around me and whispered, "10 cents." Before I knew it I had sold out of the jolly ranchers, making the fastest dollar I've ever made. That dollar could buy me another pound of jolly ranchers, and it had only taken a fraction of that to make. But even better, I had a feeling of exhilaration that I normally didn't have in school. That first taste of doing something sneaky while making money, yet not hurting anyone, was just the beginning of a quickly growing addiction. 

Over the course of the next couple weeks I quickly sold out of the entire ten pound bag of jolly ranchers. I never ate a single one. I saw that candy as a stack of money, and the idea of eating away my money was abhorrent. By this point I had accumulated a huge stack of comic books, and a couple of new games for my Nintendo. I'd also found a new problem...where to put all the coins? And I couldn't keep paying for my comics in coins; The old man at the comic shop was starting to get suspicious. I finally figured out that if I rolled them up I could exchange them for bills at the Wal-Mart, though the thought of having to buy the little paper rolls bothered me. By this point I had started to get requests for other types of candy, so I took some of my profits up to the store and bought more jolly ranchers, now-and-laters, sour gum, and atomic warheads. The checkout ladies always gave me the strangest looks, but I didn't care. 

At one point in my journey from small-time candy pusher to candy kingpin, my mom discovered my wad of cash and asked me where I had gotten it. She feared the worst, that I'd been stealing it or doing something else unsavory to earn it. I had no choice but to come clean about my growing candy empire. Surprisingly, she wasn't upset, instead I think she was impressed by my entrepreneurial spirit. 

In the coming months, I noticed a few copycat businesses appearing. One kid sold commissioned drawings for a dollar each. Another sold his cootie catchers and other origami creations. I saw other business go from birth to death in a matter of a week or two. No one could compete with candy. And for some reason, no one chose to try and compete with me in my business. I had a monopoly. November was my enemy. The first few weeks following Halloween were the worst. Demand had slumped so low that I couldn't give my candy away. By the end of Thanksgiving break I was back in business though!

I continued to grow my candy empire, under the radar, over the course of the next 3 years. Somehow I never got caught by the school administration or teachers, and they never figured out where all the candy was coming from. (Or if they did, they decided not to intervene.) As the business grew beyond my ability to manage, I enlisted the help of my best friend. I realized that by expanding my territory into other classrooms, I was increasing my profits exponentially. By the end of 8th grade I had two employees in each of the grades below me selling candy and keeping five cents for every quarter they made. I passed out the candy to my minions before school each day, and collected my cut at lunch and after school. Profits were handed over due to a mixture of the honor system and a bit of intimidation. If I felt I was being cheated, a kid would be cut off from the "family" and couldn't sell OR buy candy. Only one kid ever crossed me, and he quickly learned the error of his ways the next day at lunch when the rest of us were all counting our coins and he realized he'd lost out on future profits by stubbornly keeping one day's worth. 

Thanks to my complete lack of respect for the "No candy in school" rule, for most of my middle school career I was rich (by kid standards) in my neighborhood! I spent most of the money on school lunch, video games, and comic books. To this day, it's still the easiest money I've ever made! I'll always remember the last day of 8th grade, when I handed the business over to my most trusted 7th grade employee. He shook my hand with both of his, with tears in his eyes, and so ended my career as Don of the Rothschild Candy Empire.


  1. That's hilarious! Totally reminds me of Lunch Money.

  2. Great story! Musn't let my boys see this. They would be in business within minutes! LOL!


  3. Your narrative is very well written, and it is absolutely hilarious:) This would be a great example of why math is important. Thanks for sharing your amazing story.


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