The (Short) Candy Bus: A True Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, a girl who loves candy so much she once accidentally ate 50 whole boxes of Reese’s Pieces that she was supposed to be selling for 50 cents apiece to raise money for the 4th grade band trip and had to forfeit her allowance for 50 weeks as a result, was walking along SE Hawthorne Boulevard when she saw this sign:

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No joke, the sign really said:

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Once the girl had been revived from her ecstatic faint and picked herself up from the street, she followed the arrow down an alley, although in her experience, alleys are generally up to no good. Flexing her brass knuckles and murmuring her alley mantra of “Eyes Throat Groin,” she hurried towards the empty lot behind the old Dollar Scholar.

On the horizon she could see something that could only be a mirage: a small bus that was allegedly filled with candy. Allegedly, she reminded herself, afraid to get too excited, like that one time her stupid brother told her there was a gelato fairy in the chimney and she had to wear both resulting leg casts all summer of ’89 long.

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As she approached, the mirage in front of her shimmered in the uncharacteristic summer heat, but did not disappear. It was a bus. A short bus. A short bus filled with candy. And she’d been invited to come in!

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For some reason, the phrase “Too Good To Be True” occurred to the girl and she wavered, but her sweet teeth started hurling some pretty nasty threats and since they know some rather appalling secrets and she felt it prudent to appease them, after looking around suspiciously for some lost children with a dwindling supply of breadcrumbs and a cannibalistic witch and finding neither, she pressed on.

Walking onto the bus, the first thing she saw was two vintage school desks propped open and OVERFLOWING WITH CANDY AND CANDY-COATED PRETZELS.

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At this point, the girl was thinking she’d been so wrong, so very very wrong! She hadn’t been on the reject list for the May rapture like she’d previously thought! It had just been delayed!

A warm voice resonated through the bus, bidding the girl hello, and she turned to greet St. Peter…but St. Peter was much lovelier than she’d been led to believe by her Sunday School books, and St. Peter was sitting by an air conditioner tapping on St. Peter’s laptop. Turns out, St. Peter was actually Christine McKernan, an Oregon Culinary Institute grad and chocolate and confections afficionado turned Gatekeeper of the Chalk-let Candy Bus.

As Christine explained, she’d always dreamed of opening a candy cart, and when a friend and fellow classmate (now her business partner) suggested she make it mobile, Portland’s first and only short candy bus was born, with the slogan “We’re Sweet. We Party.” Which, incidentally, was word-for-word the greeting on the girl’s college dorm room door whiteboard.

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The system, Christine explained, was simple.

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So, the girl did just that. There were gummy bears and wax bottles.

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There were chocolate buttons with sprinkles and yogurt-covered peanuts.

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There was Candy Lipstick and giant Jawbreakers, the kind that didn’t make for a happy beginning in Jawbreakers.

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There were carafes hanging in the windows, filled with licorice pastels and Sour Patch Kids and hot tamales and sour balls and Runts and Boston Baked Beans, which the girl doesn’t really like but to her chagrin, her companion poured half the carafe into their plastic tub.

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There was even a rack stacked with Ring Pops and chocolate crayons and Necco wafers and Zotz and Sugar Daddies, oh my.

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On the counter, west of the cherry candy sticks and north of the spicy Hot Dog Bubble Gum, there were pretty frosted cookies in the likeness of Curious George and an unidentified wistful female. Christine explained that these are her very own custom Portrait Cookies, which anyone can commission and cost much less than a Johannes Vermeer original and/or a pair of pearl earrings worn by Scarlett Johansson. As Christine explained, immortalizing you in dough and icing is just one of the confectionary tricks up her sleeve–she also crafts wearable chocolips using wax lips molds, boxes of colored chocolate chalk (chalk-let, get it?!) and candy cupcakes–thin chocolate shells created in the likeness of a cupcake wrapper and filled with candy, then topped with Italian meringue. And if you need a candy bus to sweeten your birthday, bachelorette party, or erotic poetry reading (Christine was sold out of gummy handcuffs on this particular day, but they’re normally a regularly-stocked item), just say the word.

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Struggling to press the lid onto our plastic tub of sour watermelon balls, gummy grapefruit slices and Sour Patch Kids, thanks to someone hogging the tub with Boston Baked Beans, we stumbled out of the candy bus, pockets bulging with candy sticks and Zotz.

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You can't see them, because some sneak hid them under the sour balls, but this tub contains FAR too many Boston Baked Beans.

As we left, we noted the emergency kits affixed above the driver’s seat, next to two permit shields filled with ancient candy wrappers Christine said were excavated during the cleaning of the bus after it was acquired. Too fitting, especially the body fluids kit, because frankly, when the girl saw the short candy bus, she nearly peed her pants, just like that one Halloween in first grade when her crush dressed up like Willy Wonka and…oh, NEVER MIND.

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Chalk-let Candy Bus * 3267 SE Hawthorne Blvd. * 503.539.2253 * www.chalk-letbus.com * Wed-Sat 12-7pm * Twitter * Facebook

Event Alert! This Thursday, July 14th, from 7-9pm, Chalk-let Candy Bus will join their neighbors for a Harry Potter Premiere Party in the alley at SE Hawthorne Boulevard and SE 33rd Avenue. There will be Healing and Magical Potions and tarot card readings by Essential Elements, Wands and Bead Creatures by J.W. Charm, a Dollar Scholar Joke Shop, and even a Harry Potter Trivia Booth. And of course there will be special Harry Potter-themed treats courtesy of Chalk-let–see their Facebook Page for a preview of the homemade Tootsie Roll broomsticks and edible Harry Potter glasses spun from chocolate cookie dough and melted sugar. Ten points for Gryffindor if you dress up.