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Thursday, April 21, 2005 11:28 am

Chocolate Abe

The third attempt proved the charm, with only a few easy-to- disguise gray streaks marring Abe’s big chocolate head.

Marla Brotherton already was well known for her specialty chocolates when she and her husband, Greg, opened In Good Taste, their candy shop in Taylorville. But the couple’s creations never included anything as unusual as the Brothertons’ recent tribute to Abraham Lincoln, a life-size chocolate bust of our nation’s 16th president.

The idea came in mid-March, when the Brothertons were approached by Carol Alexander, president of the Taylorville Tourism Council. “She asked if we would be interested in doing a large chocolate Lincoln,” Marla Brotherton recounts.

Alexander wanted the chocolate Lincoln as part of Taylorville’s Folk Art Lincoln Exhibit at this week’s pre-dedication events for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. Springfield’s small neighbor to the southeast was picked to create 24 lookalike folk-art creations for the museum festivities.

The Brothertons had never made a chocolate creation of this size, and Marla wasn’t sure that she was up to the task. But Greg, who is also Taylorville’s chief of police, was undaunted, she says. “He is real positive and pretty creative,” she says.

The original plan was for Greg to make a silicone mold. “We had to find a statue,” Marla says. “He found one of Lincoln, but time was a factor, so I called Carol and asked if she knew where a statue [along with the mold] was that we could use. A couple days later, she had acquired a plastic mold of Lincoln created by John McClarey.”

McClarey, a well-known Lincoln sculptor, is creating a life-size statue of Lincoln for the city of Taylorville. This statue, along with a statue of a scampering pig donated by the Monte Siegrist family, will be unveiled next month on the Taylorville square. Alexander contacted the sculptor and secured a mold — and McClarey’s permission — for the Brothertons’ use.

With just weeks to complete the chocolate Lincoln, the first thing the Brothertons had to do was plug the openings in the flexible mold. At first, Marla says, “Lincoln’s head was leaking! We had to try several times to secure the breaks.”

Marla says they had never used a mold such as this one for chocolate and had never made a creation this large. The first endeavor, incorporating 35 pounds of chocolate, resulted in a chocolate Lincoln with gray highlights. “We couldn’t use him, so Greg broke it apart, I re-melted the chocolate, and we tried again. The second one didn’t look so good, either.”

The third try was more successful, with just a couple of streaks in the chocolate that Marla was able to disguise by painting over them with a chocolate wash. The regal 18-inch bust was completed. Alexander picked it up last week and delivered the bust, along with the 23 other folk-art creations for the exhibit. Marla also worked all week to create Lincoln images to use as giveaways at the exhibit as well.

Response to the Taylorville Lincoln Folk Art Exhibit has been positive, Alexander says. Over the weekend, the display received visitors from Ukraine, Korea, Alaska, and California. “Our guests enjoyed chocolate images of Lincoln made by Marla,” Alexander says. “A troop of Boy Scouts from suburban Chicago voted the chocolates their favorite folk art.”

When asked whether they would do it again, Greg takes a deep breath: “Yeah. Now that it’s done, it was fun.”

So what happens to the chocolate Lincoln bust?

Marla says some mention has been made of eating it, but she nixes that notion. Instead, chocolate Lincoln will come back to the Brothertons’ shop, where it will go on display.

The bust might even become a tourist attraction in its own right, Marla says with a laugh: “Who knows? It might be a draw like the [state fair’s] butter cow!”

In Good Taste, located on the square in Taylorville, is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri. and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat. For more information, call 217-287-1130 or visit www.igtaste.com.

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