Dolly Parton and her 11 siblings used to get into all sorts of trouble when they were growing up in their two-bedroom cabin in the mountains of East Tennessee. One day, when Parton’s parents went into town, she and her siblings discovered all the necessary ingredients to make chocolate candy. So they quickly, sneakily got to work. And they might have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for Parton’s big mouth.
The younger Parton kids convinced Willadeene to make them candy
Dolly’s older sister, Willadeene, was left in charge when Robert and Avie Lee went into town. It took some convincing, but eventually Willadeene caved to the pleas of her little brothers and sisters. The one condition was that everyone agreed to never tell Mom and Dad.
“Of course we agreed to this,” Dolly wrote in her first memoir, Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business. “This was one sweet-starved group of young’uns that would have agreed to have some of their less favorite body parts amputated tomorrow for the promise of chocolate candy today. Personally, I never cared that much for my left foot anyway.”
When Willadeene finally got to making the chocolate, she had a captivated audience watching her every move.
“I watched every step of the way as my sister made the candy, made twice as delicious by the illegal nature of it,” the “Jolene” singer wrote. “The chocolate smelled so good as it was brought to a boil and then poured onto a plate that eager if none too sanitary fingers had helped to butter.”
Since the kids had a limited amount of time, they weren’t able to let the chocolate set properly. But nobody seemed to mind scooping up the chocolate goo with their fingers.
Willadeene was nervous about the whole operation—she knew she’d be the one in the most trouble since she was left in charge. So she tried her best to scrub the pot and spoon clean and fan the home of any chocolate smell. Just when she finished, Mr. and Mrs. Parton arrived home. Though Willadeene did an excellent job of chocolate-proofing the house, young Dolly blew everyone’s cover.
“I had rushed to the car as soon as the doors opened and offered loudly in my most confident voice, ‘Mama, Deene didn’t make no chocolate candy,’” wrote Dolly. “Mama would not have even needed the traces of chocolate in the corners of my mouth to know exactly what had gone on.”
The Parton kids were punished, “but they couldn’t remove the satisfying swell of chocolate candy from our stomachs, and all in all, it was easier than an amputation.”
Dolly Parton promised herself that when she got famous she’d have candy whenever she wanted
At the time of writing her first memoir, the “Coat of Many Colors” singer could still remember just how much she relished candy as a kid. From a young age, she had aspirations of being a star, so she made a promise to herself.
“I used to think that when I became a star, I would have candy and cakes and pies any time I felt like it,” she wrote. “One need only look at the width of my butt in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas to know that I kept that promise to myself, at least for a while.”
But candy just wasn’t the same as when she was young.
“Wouldn’t it be something if we could have things we love in abundance without their losing that special attraction the want of them held for us,” she wrote.