JONESPORT, Maine – When Elizabeth Emerson confessed to a newspaper that her only real indulgence has been an occasional chocolate bar during her 87 years, she wasn't prepared for the sweet response that followed.
The 87-year-old Emerson was featured in a New York Times story about the impact of soaring fuel prices, generating letters from across the country, some with bars of chocolate inside.
She hit the jackpot in mid-December with an assortment from Hershey Co. that was accompanied by a personal note.
"I couldn't believe it. I laughed more than anything. All that fuss over little old me," Emerson told the Bangor Daily News.
The story about how the low-income elderly endure harsh Northeast winters gave a snapshot of Emerson's life: married for a half-century, grandmother and great-grandmother to 52, former aide at a nearby nursing home, now struggling to live on a $683-a-month Social Security check.
The final line disclosed her secret: "My greatest vice is Hershey bars."
This weekend, Emerson displayed what remains of her chocolate collection at her kitchen table.
"This isn't even all of it. I've given boxes and boxes away," she said. "I couldn't enjoy it if I wasn't able to share."
Besides, she said, "I can only eat so much chocolate."