The Ballerina and the Cannibal

She stood very straight, balanced on her dainty slippered toes, with one arm raised gracefully over her head. Her tutu stood out around her hips with precisely starched symmetry. She was delicate. She was cute. She was five and a fourth inches high and weighed three ounces. She was made out of 460 calories’ worth of solid milk chocolate.

When my six-year-old granddaughters gave me the chocolate ballerina for Christmas, I’m sure they intended for me to eat it. I suspect that someone—it may have been Santa Claus, but it was probably their mother—must have mentioned that, if you want to get Grandma something she’ll really like, chocolate is always a good choice. Being apprentice ballerinas themselves, naturally they would have been delighted to find this little candy dancer—maybe even as delighted as I was to receive it.

There was, however, one small problem. Eating a chocolate Easter bunny is easy. First you bite off the ears, and then you munch your way down. But that’s a different species. Chomping a chocolate ballerina feels just a bit like cannibalism. It evokes less Anna Pavlova than it does Alferd E. Packer.*

So the bonbon ballerina stayed in her box for almost a month after Christmas. Then, finally, the day came. The box of truffles was empty. The mint chocolate meltaways were all gone. The dark chocolates with raspberry fillings had disappeared. It was time.

I opened the box. I cut open the plastic wrapper. I looked at her for a moment, so dainty, so perfectly posed, so unafraid. Then I picked up a sharp knife and cut her legs off. Starting at the toes, I nibbled until they were all gone. True, I felt just a bit like the wolf in “Little Red Riding Hood.” Still, chocolate is chocolate.

The next day, her head and arm went the way of her legs. There was nothing left now but her tutu. I ate that the third day, and I enjoyed every bite. Once you start, there’s no stopping. Just ask Alferd E. Packer.

How do you eat a chocolate ballerina? One bite at a time.

*For those not current on their cannibals, Alferd E. Packer was the only survivor of a party of six men trapped by blizzards in Colorado in 1874, and he was convicted of murder and cannibalism. The cafeteria at the University of Colorado in Boulder is named after him.

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