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Big League Stew

Why I’ve saved a Ken Griffey Jr. chocolate bar for almost 20 years

Big League Stew

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Ken Griffey Jr. bars were first produced in 1989 (Ryan Wood photo)

It's a slab of solid milk chocolate. That's it.

So why was I drawn to this creation way back in 1993 at a card show in Kansas City?

Well, it was a unique collectible. Certainly could be a worthy investment. And, oh yeah, I was a 12-year-old baseball nut, so naturally I was a huge fan of Ken Griffey Jr.

A lot of us were back then. Griffey was 23 years old that season, was in the middle of breaking out in a big way (45 bombs!) and was doing so with a child-like love of the game. Everyone loved the guy.

I was no different. As many impressionable 12-year-olds tend to do, I temporarily abandoned my hometown team. The Kansas City Royals would have to wait as I instead pursued a passionate fandom of Ken Griffey Jr. and his Seattle Mariners.

I bought Griffey's baseball cards. I asked for a replica Mariners jersey for Christmas. And at that sports card show in 1993, I spent five dollars on a Ken Griffey Jr. chocolate bar, which had been sold in the Seattle area since Griffey's rookie season in 1989.

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The back of the wrapper (Ryan Wood)

I was ecstatic. How much, I wondered, could this be worth when the Kid entered the Hall of Fame one day?

Whatever the amount of untold millions, I certainly wasn't going to risk losing the potential payday to a hungry relative. So when I got home that day, I made an announcement to my family: I was putting this chocolate bar in the refrigerator, right next to the butter, until the day I sold it and became a very rich man.

"DO NOT TOUCH IT," I made sure to instruct on that day 19 years ago.

Then, a very funny (and rare) thing happened: Everybody listened to me.

By 1996, I had grown out of Griffey mania. I gravitated back toward the Royals, just as they started getting really terrible. By the age of 16, I was playing high school baseball and going after high school girls. At the age of 18, I was throwing parties at my house when my parents were out of town. Tons of teenagers went in and out of our fridge to get food and, ahem, drinks.

And yet nobody touched the Ken Griffey Jr. chocolate bar. By then, it was 1999, and the thing was likely toxic. But it was left alone in a compartment on the door, its proximity to the butter — and not the beverages — likely providing its salvation.

A couple of years after that, my parents bought a new fridge. Yet the Griffey bar transitioned seamlessly. About a year after that, I moved out of the house for good, leaving the chocolate bar behind. I pretty much forgot about it by that point.

I now live 1,600 miles away from my parents, in an overpriced home of my own in Southern California. I am 30 years old with a wife, a daughter and a fantasy baseball addiction. I remain a huge baseball fan, yet I became indifferent to Ken Griffey Jr. I shrugged when he hit his 600th home run, had no reaction when he went back to Seattle and didn't think much of his retirement. Time marches on.

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Home sweet home (Ryan Wood)

But a few weeks ago, I went back to Kansas City for a wedding and stayed with my parents. I was putting my daughter's baby food in their fridge when I saw it for the first time in years. There was the Ken Griffey Jr. chocolate bar, next to the butter, like it had been every day for the last 19 years. I couldn't help but laugh.

"You kept this?" I asked my mother.

"Of course!" my mom replied.

Bless her heart. Given her dedication and devotion to preserving that chapter of my childhood, it was only fair that I relieve her of her duties protecting that chocolate bar. I took it out of the fridge, placed it in a carry-on, took it back to California with me and gave it a new home in my own icebox.

At this point, I now intend to keep this thing untouched until the day I die. The Kid and I may be getting older, but this invincible chocolate bar isn't going anywhere.

Besides, they're only selling for like 10 dollars on eBay.

And I'm sure not going to eat it.

Ryan Wood, a good friend of the Stew, lives in Southern California with his wife and daughter. He is currently open to investing in novelty food ventures that involve Eric Hosmer.

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