The Price and the Value
The journey of a Tin of Chocolate Pudding: A True Story.

Frank M. Juelich

"Sorry Lord for sending only that tin of chocolate pudding. It's all I could afford." The woman felt sad, but . . . 

And so the story begins . . . The blob of chocolate pudding, the subject of her prayer was happily floating about in a big cauldron.  Suddenly, it found itself grabbed, then . . . Flop, slap, grrrrr, pfat clack-clack-clack, clunk . . .  

"What in the world . . .  what in the world was that?"

The pudding said breathlessly, looking at its new home with not a little fear.

"What happened?"

"Where am I?"

"I am your new host "The Tin".

A somewhat metallic voice grated. The capital T in Tin was implied by it's tone.

"I will carry you safely to where ever destiny has destined to send you."

About to embark on a literal rather than literary journey, the bad style went by unchallenged."

"I am the label, your eyes and ears."

A voice from the other side of the tin's skin said.

"I advertise our greatness to the world and I will keep you informed as to what is going on around us. 

The pudding, though comfortably ensconced in the tin, chafed at the confinement and at the necessity of using the Label as its eyes. Of course, prudence made it keep its frustration hidden as it sweetly inquired as to their whereabouts and about what was going on. It found out that they were in a big, big store sharing the place with many other goods and - nothing much was going on.  

The Label, when not busy listening and replying to the inner voice, was happily fighting with the proletarians, as it disdainfully called the bags of flour and noodles and the vast array of other common eatables. None of them came close in importance or greatness to what it advertised, Had not the pudding, at their first meeting, said: 

"I have come from a great stock of cocoa beans from high in the mountains of a country called South America."

As neither the Label nor the tin were very good at geography, the Country of South America was readily accepted.

"And," the pudding had continued, "my beans have been hand-picked by the very hands of God. I am destined for great things."

Not being sure of its theology either, the Label was not willing to incur divine wrath by contradicting these claims. The Tin, keeping its thoughts to itself, was not much of a help either.

"We will see." the Label mused,

"After all, the proof of the pudding is in the eating."

It thought that rather funny and giggled. 

An altercation, one the of many, of the Tin's label with the Label of a bag of flour was interrupted by the exited voice of a little boy.

"Hey ma, look, my favorite chocolate pudding. Let's take ten Tins."

"No, young man, your dad has no job." a stern voice answered, "We will take one and send it to a missionary. I need something to put into that parcel."

The "Oh ma . . ." of the boy availed him nothing. Mother knew best.

"She looks at me," the Label whispered excitedly. "She reaches for me . . ."

The next few hours were sheer euphoria. They were on an errand of great importance - at least according to the pudding.  

Yet soon their euphoria was replaced by anxiety as the Label constantly reported the longing look and touch of the boy.

"The chances of ever leaving this house look slim,"

They morosely thought. The woman seemed to have forgotten the missionary and them.

But finally the great day came, safely inside a box tightly packed with other things, from other people, they were on their way . . . 

Initially the journey went smooth till . . ."

"Oh," said the pudding, as it felt itself falling and falling, "I am feeling sick."

"It is nothing, assured the Label," hiding its own misgivings, "our plane just hit an air pocket."

"Plane?" said the Tin. "What is a plane?"

"Well", the Label patiently explained, "a plane is like a big bird and we are inside it."

"Inside a bird?"

The pudding lamented,

"After all this trouble only to end up inside a bird?"

"No, no", the Label now becoming impatient spoke again,

"I said like a bird, not a bird. Don't you know anything?"

The pudding prudently kept quiet less its utter ignorance about such matters would become common knowledge.

"Where is this bird, ahem, plane", the pudding quickly corrected itself, "going?"

"To India".

The Label proudly flaunted its knowledge.


The pudding was overcome with awe.


"How do you know all this?"

"Well, I asked the Label on our box who asked the Label on the container. You see," It said rather condescendingly,

"We labels stick together."

The pun, if intended, was lost on the other two. 

Many days later, having also traveled by train and by road, the parcel was plunked on a table.

"We have reached our destination."

The Label whispered excitedly as, for the first time, in what seemed an eternity, it saw light.

"What is the place like?"

The others asked impatiently.

"It is rather dingy."

The Label sounded disappointed.

"A dingy place?"

They gasped.

"No palace?"

The pudding whined.

"No mansion?"

"Well, I am no expert on architecture, but if this is a palace then that term palace is highly overrated." 

"A tin of Pudding! Chocolate Pudding! Hurrah!"

An exited voice broke into their conversation. The rest of what was said was lost on them as their vocabulary was limited to English, except for the pudding which prided itself of knowing some sort of Spanish.

"Our journey was a success!" All three felt.

"Even if it is not a palace," the pudding ruefully thought, " we brought joy to somebody." 

The next day, believing their separation to be imminent, they began to say good bye to one another. In the midst of their sentimental niceties, they were surprised to hear the same man say to another,

"Here, pastor, is a small tin of chocolate pudding. I think your little girl will enjoy it."

Amazed, they again heard the sound of real joy as the other man accepted the gift for his little girl.

"We already made two people happy and neither ate the pudding." 

The Label sounded baffled.  

Sometime later . . . The shriek of joy from the little girl almost broke the pudding's heart for sheer happiness.

"It was worth the journey" it enthused, "It really was."

"Yes," the others concurred, "We finally reached our destination."

But little did they know about people's capacity for creating happiness . . . 

"You know," a woman's voice broke in, speaking to the little girl, "Uncle is in hospital dying of cancer. He can not eat many things anymore. Shall we make this tin of pudding a gift to him? It would make him very happy." 

There was a silence. Then the little girl, admittedly with a bit of effort, slowly said,  "Yes, let us take it to uncle." 

"The sick man's eyes lit up with unbounded pleasure at the gift."

The Label later that evening told the other two.

"He looked at us for a long time, smiling happily." 

"What an exciting journey", the pudding suddenly exclaimed. "We must be priceless to be sent on such a mission to such a distant, fascinating land."

"Well", said the Label, checking for the price on its coat, "30 cents isn't really much by any reckoning".

That's all we are worth?"

The pudding sounded disappointed, believing it had  been grossly undervalued.

"That's not what I said," objected the Label. "I said that's what they paid for us."

"For me," corrected the  pudding peevishly".

"Have it your way,"  The Label bit back.

"Be quiet, both of you!" The Tin interjected.

Turning to the conceited pudding, it scolded,

"Without our help you would not have gotten very far."

"From the spoon to the floor,"

The Label, having recovered its cheerfulness, quipped giggling. 

"I have reasons to be grateful to the Tin for carrying me, but what have you contributed to make this journey a success?" came the retort.

"You ungrateful thing!" The Tin broke in again; "The Label got us on the journey in the first place by telling everybody what a fine product we are. Also, didn't it entertain us on our journey in the belly of the plane where we spent many fretful hours? Furthermore did it not inform us about our destination and encouraged us when the plane seemed to fall out of the sky?" 

The Label had the decency to blush at flood of compliments coming its way and the pudding -- the graciousness to whisper,

"Sorry, yes it was the great team work that got us this far".  

"As I was saying," the Label took up the discourse again, "The 30 cents is the price they put on us, on you, on our brother the Tin and on me. but, of course, no value can be placed on the happiness we brought, the smiles, the cheers the joy." They all concurred. 

After a bit of silence the pudding, with heartfelt gratitude whispered, Thanx you two, you were wonderful companions on this exciting journey. The Tin, followed by the Label, too expressed their feelings of gratitude to one another and for the wonderful companionship they had on this mission.

The pudding with a rare touch of humility concluded their conversation.

"It certainly took the three of us to bring so much joy to so many people." 

It was but a little later that night that the shaky hand of the sick man slowly reached for the Tin, smiled at it and whispered. " All the way from Canada, just for me. What a precious gift. Thank you Lord, thank you!"