The Spirit of the Gift: A Box of Chocolates

Tucked in an old trunk, an empty box of chocolates with an inscription,

Kenneth’s first box of chocolates given by Uncle Darrel Sept. 7, 1926. 

The old box is fragile; it was constructed of paper but, it had survived over the course of eighty-eight years! I imagine that Kenneth left the box behind when he was no longer a boy; while his mother neatly tucked it away for sometime in the future. Carefully, I opened the box and discovered a handmade stuffed elephant. . . This was precious; I felt a tingle up and down my spine – the spirit of the gift survived.

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Eighty-eight years later, I understood the sentiment. The first step or the first word or the first box of chocolate mark moments in time that become more meaningful over the course of a lifetime. Here I stood with this memento with its beautiful art deco design – deep blue lovely actually. I dusted it carefully and placed it on a table.

Now, in my present life, I pass things on in the marketplace – a big marketplace powered by the internet. I write descriptions that are probably too long and often, I think, too sentimental. I could easily write a description lacking the story of this empty old chocolate box; perhaps,

Old Ramer’s Chocolate Box. Good Condition. Measurement 10″ x 4″ approximately.

But then, the history is lost – and so is the meaning. So, I photographed the box, pondering each detail of the graphics; looked at the elephant again and then wrote this description:

The amazing graphics on this paper wrapped cardboard box – are remarkable and in very good condition . . . the box is dated with a charming inscription:

“Kenneth’s first box of chocolates given by Uncle Darrel Sept. 7, 1926″

The craftsman era is reflected in the graphic tree with fruit while the peacock seems more reminiscent of art deco .  . .
Whatever the inspiration, the brilliant blue, red rose and linear horizontal graphics eventually lead to the logo for Ramer’s Chocolate. The logo is repeated on the side of the box . . .

We are selling this advertising box as found . . . upon opening the box, we were surprised to see a handmade elephant tucked inside, no doubt, an attempt by Kenneth’s Mother to save one of his childhood toys. This is a treasure. Measures about 10” X 4 1/2 X 3 1/4.
Condition: At the corner of the lid, there is some loosening
of the wrap. The elephant needs a wash as evidenced in the
photograph.

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For a while, I had the pleasure of enjoying the box on the table. I wondered if anyone in the world appreciated the bits and pieces of the past. Maybe no one will ever . . . I would say to myself. But one evening, the Etsy Notification sounded . . .TMA had just ordered the Ramer’s Chocolate Box! I was a little let down, no longer would I see the beautiful graphics as I passed the table. I worried also – why did someone want this box? I carefully packed the chocolate box. I also reiterated to the new owner that this was a precious chocolate box.

Two days later, the new owner, Tanya replied:

The package arrived today in great shape – thank you so much – especially for the background information.  While having dinner just a couple of weeks ago, my daughter Ali was telling my Aunt Barbara (nee Ramer) about her new job at the bakery, which includes candy making.  My Aunt then went on to tell us how my Nana (Hortense Ramer) always knew what was inside the chocolate pieces in a candy box based on the design on the candy because she worked for Ramer chocolates – apparently my grandfather’s side of the family (Earl Ramer) owned a chocolate shop.  It was a tidbit of info that my Aunt learned from my Nana at some point (my own mother had never heard that story), so I of course had to google Ramer Chocolates to find out more.  My Nana lived in NJ her whole life, so when I saw that Ramer’s Chocolates was based in St. Paul, Minnesota, I wasn’t sure if there was a connection.  I then came across your etsy site in the google search,  and being a huge vintage fan, was further intrigued…unfortunately my nana passed away in 2006 at the age of 97, so I couldn’t ask her about working for her husband’s family’s candy shop  (maybe he was just a boyfriend at the time).  I hesitated about making the purchase until I saw the inscription from Uncle Darrel….maybe not a direct connection, but my mother’s name is Darriel Ramer, so to me that was more than a sign that this vintage item belonged in my collection – and upon receiving it, I actually got a chill when I opened the box and held it in my hand…
My Aunt did say that my grandfather’s family was from the midwest, so I am definitely going to do more digging.
So to make a long story short, the Ramer’s Chocolate box has found a perfect new home and will be cherished and handled with great care for many, many more years to come.  Thank you for brightening my day 🙂
Family Crest

Family Crest

An incredible history for an empty box of chocolates drawn from the early days of electricity to the age of the internet. I wonder if Tanya’s grandmother was there the day that the box of chocolates was shipped to Amesville, Ohio. It is entirely possible; the A. M. Ramer Company did not survive the great depression a few years later.

Lately, I have been spending some time reading about the company – I have found so many interesting details. The facility built in ca. 1916 cost a staggering 375,00.00! Saint Paul was becoming the candy capital of the world. And Mr. Ramer was a part of the growth of the candy industry and the growth of Saint Paul as a manufacturing center. The train from Chicago would pass the candy companies –  no doubt passengers enjoyed a sweet treat! But fortunes rise and fall, then as now. All that remains of the A.M. Ramer Candy Company is the bond of family. The spirit of the gift survived long past the lives of Kenneth and Uncle Darrel; the spirit of the gift lives now in the life of another family. A Circle. The circle of giving . . . Nice.

Ramer Candy Company Building

One last thought, I won’t worry about my descriptions being rather long or overly sentimental. Well, not so much . . .

2 Comments

  1. Mike

    Abraham Ramer founded the company in Winona, MN. It was billed as the largest chocolate company west of the Mississippi in the early 1900s. Story is he used to deliver by car chocolates to the east coast, during the winter months to avoid melting. His sons took over and in the 20’s moved to the Twin Cities. They built the large building, now owned by 3m, story is the bank called in the loan and effectively put them out of business. I have copies of the recipes and a few boxes I have collected over the years.

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    1. Thank you for the history. It makes sense that Ramers didnot just fold- the building was quite an asset. I read about the refrigerator problems:) I am sure the family who has the box will be happy with your contribution! Valerie

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