Photo-This was Murray Dover when he was 2 on Albert Street in Cowansville, Quebec. He was about my size and his Mother had made me a dress for my birthday- so he became the fitting model. Photo from the Dover family Collection
Every single day I worshipped the 3 Musketeers sing-along commercial on the Howdy Doody Show. Gentle hands would pick up the candy bar and snap it carefully in half with dark chocolate on the outside and wonderful soft nougat on the inside. It was marketed as the candy bar that was so big it could be enjoyed by two friends. In my mind there would be no sharing and come the weekend that candy bar (not available in Canada) would be mine, as we were taking a day-trip to Richford, Vermont to buy school supplies.
Saturday finally came and I was told to put on a brand new pink dress my mother had worked on all week. Clutching my ten sweaty American pennies we headed across the border and my heart did a flip flop when I told the American customs agent what I was going to buy. That Saturday it was a hot summer day my friends and it was the kind of heat that would allow your body to stick to your grandmother’s couch covered in clear plastic.
I sat at the Rexall Drugstore counter with my father and slowly sipped an icy root beer float while my mother went to the A & P across the street. My Dad, like his daughter was obsessive about food and needed his fix of A& P Spice Bars at least once a month. The Spice Bar was an oblong cake made of “the most delicate spices from the Orient” and covered in a buttercream frosting. For my father, 29 cents would buy him a piece of heaven.
My mother suddenly waved her hands and that was my signal to run to the candy counter and purchase the 3 Musketeers bar as my father yelled at her to hurry up before the Spice Bars melted. As my Mum and Dad loaded up the trunk I wasted not one second getting into the back of the car.
As I got in I continued the summer ritual of fanning the hot vinyl seats quickly so I wouldn’t burn my legs and as soon as the seat was bearable I ripped the wrapper off the candy bar like a maniac. One does not need to tell you what that thing looked like after sitting on the Rexall shelves for a few days in the heat.
A huge puddle of liquid chocolate with a nougat filling proceeded to run down the dress that my mother had spent days hand smocking. As I attempted to stop the chocolate river with my hands it only seemed to get worse, so I quickly shoved what was left of it into my mouth.
The trunk slam shut, the car doors opened and a huge scream came out of my mother’s mouth as she looked at me. There I was sitting in the back seat with a huge chocolate face smile, and the cherished pink dress was now covered with brown hand prints and I was singing:
“1-2-3 big big big
1-2-3 big big big
It’s the candy treat that can’t be beat
Let’s give three big cheers
For the 3 big Musketeers!”
My parents never said another word on the way home, nor did the Canadian customs agent as he looked at me in shock while my father handed him an A & P Spice Bar. Today I realize that my father hoped that “the delicate spices of the Orient” would forever banish whatever story the custom agent was going to tell his colleagues after we left.
Forced back to reality I sighed as I remembered. The innocence of childhood is now only in my dreams.
A&P’s SPANISH BAR CAKE
2 c flour
1-1/2 c sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice, ground
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 c applesauce
2 medium eggs…slightly beaten
1 c raisins…..plump them in warm water,drain and use. .(add these last, after everything else is mixed)
8 oz cream cheese …softened
4 Tbsp butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 c confections sugar
1/3 c milk
1 Tbsp lemon juice, fresh
walnuts are an option…your choice
1 Gather your spices and the other ingredients together.
In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar and baking soda.
Then add the cocoa,cinnamon,salt,nutmeg and allspice.
2 Next add the vegetable oil,applesauce,and the beaten eggs.
When all of the above is mixed,
Add the plumped raisins.
Put in a greased and floured 9×13 cake pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30to35 minutes
In a pre-heated oven.
Mix the cream cheese,butter,vanilla,
confectioners sugar, milk and
lemon juice together.
Spread on the cake.
****YOUR OPTION: To make a layer cake, just like the original Spanish Bar Cake (see main foto) cut the cake into 2 pieces, then spread the frosting between the layers and on the top. Step back in time and enjoy this great cake
Have you tried?
PARSNIP SPICE CAKE WITH GINGER CREAM CHEESE FROSTING— Carleton Place Farmer’s Market
Bonny Dover Burton–Did you notice they always made the hem bigger so you could wear it longer and was able to fill it out?
Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun
Thank’s for the recipe, was my favourite cake as a kid we bought it at the A &P in Cowansville also.
me too:) glad you love it.. sending hugs
Brought back memories, weekend drives to Plattsburgh from Montreal for those wonderful candies, you mention and other items, that were not available in Canada, including great LP’s at what were bargain prices to us.
the LPS… too bad we didn’t buy a lot back then and make a fortune today:)
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