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God Created a Candy Man

God Created a Candy Man

On the 8th day God created a candy man.  And the world shall call him Mike.  Mike's life would begin as a first generation American born in the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His life would not be easy.  As a boy he would be given to an old Greek to work in his chocolate factory because his parents were too poor to care for him.  It is here he would work and learn the art of chocolates, and after a long hard day crawl onto a shelf under the candy table and sleep. 

God loved his little candy man and watched over him as he grew and made his life in the world.  He watched over him as he worked in the steel mills and tried to make a better life. And then God said, "My little candy man needs a life partner".  And so it would come to be that a spunky Croatian woman named Helen would steal not only peanuts from Mike but his heart as well.  

God watched over the little couple as they built a life together.  Mike would continue to work the mills, open a chocolate shop, lose a chocolate shop, open an ice cream shop, lose an ice cream shop and work the mills.  And through it all Helen stayed by his side. Together they would welcome their first born son and call him Michael and they would bury him not long after.  Then another baby, a boy again named Robert and the world would call him Bob.  Not long after, they were blessed with more children, another son named Richard who would be called Dick, a daughter named Mary Jane and last a little girl named Judy.

As Candy Man Mike worked with Helen by his side they built their little family business, Pollak's Candy.  Through his chocolate confections Mike made many people happy and God was pleased.  Mike was a man of small stature standing perhaps all of 5' 8" tall with a lean body that could be blown away in a good gust of wind.  He was a hard working man, up early completely focused on his chocolate.  He would work long hard days and as his boys grew both Bob and Dick would be at the shop right next to him.  Mike would teach both the boys the art of candy making almost as soon as they could stand next to him.   Together they would roll creams, side by side with the boy's standing on a stool to reach the table.  

Mike loved his God and always put him first.  No matter how busy he was at the shop, if it was an early morning it was even earlier by starting at church.  God watched over his Candy Man Mike.  This is my Candy Man in whom I am well pleased.  God gave Mike strong hands to work the chocolate day after day, a strong mind to keep his business going and a bit of a temper to keep him humble.

Most of all God gave Mike a huge and generous heart. He watched over his little family with fierce protection.  The Lord blessed Mike with more family as his children grew and got married.  Helen and Mike became Grandpap and Grandma with nine grandchildren. If it were possible, Mike's already big heart grew in the love he had for each of these babies as they came along.  

The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.  So it came to pass that God saw fit to call his baby girl Judy home.  Mike wept.  The little Candy Man's big heart was broken.  But God gave him the strength to continue forward in life and never left his side. The days continued with Mike working, praying and caring for his family.  The little ones grew and loved their Grandpap.  They loved his smile, his scent of chocolate and tobacco and his hugs.  God made this candy man to be loved and respected by all.  In return Mike shared his success quietly, and without any fanfare gave to those around him in need.  For the Candy Man understood, that to whom much is given, much is expected.

As it would be in September of 1981 at the Philadelphia Candy Show Mike suffered a massive heart attack.  When God created His Candy Man He gave him an extra dose of stubbornness.  Instead of going to the hospital, Mike would board a plane back to his beloved Pittsburgh home and go right to the hospital.  The family was called and there were many tears as Mike battled the days in ICU.  His big heart was badly damaged but his work on this earth was not yet finished.  He would recover and go home, but his days of working hard in his chocolate shop were over.  

As a faithful servant Mike continued his journey much more frail than any of his family were used to seeing him.  Still stubbornly strong in spirit, his body was weak and his generous heart badly damaged.  He willed himself to live and finish his work.  His family was able to enjoy his gentle smile, his cranky disposition and all his love for a little while longer.

In the darkness of the night of March 20, 1983 God whispered in Candy Man Mike's ear while he slept.

"Well done my good and faithful servant.  Your work on earth is done. It is your time to come home."

Hearts were broken, tears were shed, a beautiful generous heart was laid to rest as the world said good bye to this hardworking chocolate soul.  

How lucky was I to call him Grandpap.  How blessed am I to carry on his work.

On the 8th day God created a Candy Man, and he was good.



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  • Bill Ziener on

    I once said to Pap Mike-“hey, that Sarris candy is pretty good!” He said “are you crazy!” (we were sitting in Judy and Dick’s kitchen)

  • Denise "Dougherty" Kunz on

    Mike was one of a kind. As the story states, a generous man with a huge heart. We grew up right across the street from the candy store, and Mike gave me my first job. I will never forget him saying, “eat as much candy as you want”, and I remember my heart filling with joy at those very words. Well, every once in a while you would have a bunny’s ear break off so you could eat the chocolate. After so many “mistakes” were consumed, you quickly learned why Mike would tell you to each as much as you wanted. Soon thereafter, I never cared if I would ever eat another piece of chocolate. I think there was a plan behind those words of Mike’s because soon after, you picked up the pace, and finished your work much faster so you didn’t have to look at anymore chocolate. Seriously though, this is the BEST chocolate around. I always kid with people and tell them I was bottle fed Pollak’s Candy. How I miss those days of seeing Mike, and then Dickie coming out of the shop with their chocolate stained aprons from a hard days work. Mike with that stogie always hanging from his mouth, and then Dickie with that laugh of his, that always made me smile. I’m glad to see the next generation continuing on with the store, and keeping that tradition going.
    Thanks for posting this story about Mike. It brought back so many wonderful memories of people I truly admired and respected over the years.

  • aunt mary jane on

    Sharon, you always make me cry when you write such beautiful things about my Mom and Dad. This is the greatest write up every seen about Daddy. thank you

  • MAry JArvis on

    What a beautiful, touching story. I am smiling thru my tears. Thank you for sharing. I love that Bob and Martha have carried on such a wonderful family tradition, passed down to their children.


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