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Short story - Thinktank

Two men stood outside their company boardroom, looking through the glass wall at the assembly inside. ‘Do you think this is a good idea?’ asked the one leaning on the glass.

‘Marketing says it’s the latest thing.’ His colleague replied. ‘Build an interest group from your target audience. Get them around a table, and have them think up your next product.’

The first executive loosened his tie. ‘I can’t watch this. I’m dizzy just thinking about it.’

‘Oh c’mon. Stay! It’ll be fun. Don’t you want to see how he handles it?’

*

‘Hey guys! Call me Drew.’ Andrew took in the collection of anxious faces around the table. ‘You all know why you’re here, right?’

Most nodded, some said, yes. One didn’t respond.

‘It’s Charlie, right?’ Andrew asked.

‘Yeah.’

‘You’re going to have to leave your nose alone, Charlie. Stick with me.’

The nine-year-old withdrew his finger. Andrew picked up some bright-coloured marker pens and turned to an easel of butcher’s paper.

‘The bowls in front of you are loaded with our products. Feel free to open them up if it will help you. Take as many as you want. I need you guys to help me think up something new.’

What followed was a frenzy as kids twisted wrappers off chocolate bars and tore apart packages. Soon the air was filled with the sound of vigorous chewing. Drew sensed his control was slipping.

‘Okay guys, if you could make a new sweetie, what would it have in it? Nothing weird, just the good old favourites.’

Eight kids called out at once.

‘Chocolate!’

‘Marshmallows!’

‘Honey!’

‘More chocolate!’

‘Lumpy caramel bits are awesome.’ Slurped a kid who had managed to fit an entire stick of Twirly Terror in his mouth.

‘White chocolate coated in hundreds ‘n thousands!’

‘I like Skittles.’

‘Someone else makes those.’ Drew corrected. ‘So far we have a layer of chocolate with a layer of marshmallow, then more chocolate, covered with honey and hundreds ‘n thousands.’

Andrew scribbled furiously. The R&D guys took weeks to achieve what these kids were doing in minutes. He wondered whether they could kill two birds, and replace that division of the company with below award wage employees. He shelved the idea. ‘What about peanuts? Who likes peanuts?’

A chorus of caramel laden voices called out in agreement.

‘I’m allergic to nuts,’ said a tiny boy who had been carefully reading the back of every wrapper.

‘Right, then. Nuts are out. What about biscuit?’

A girl with unruly red hair shot her hand up. ‘Mr Drew. How about we call it a sandwich? My mum says if I’m hungry, to have a sandwich.’

Drew clapped his hands.

‘That’s genius, Liv! A piece of biscuit on either side makes it a sandwich.’ Andrew wrote in capital letters beneath the design for the wrapper. When he’d finished, the latest creation for the Acme Confectionary company read: the Chocolate Honey Over Caramel Sandwich. To become known over time as the CHOC Sandwich.


(Competition word limit - 499/500. Story must include the word, chocolate)

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