It is often the little things that leave the biggest impression on us. Simple acts of kindness can speak volumes, especially when someone’s day may not be going according to plan. But how many of us have experienced generosity in its absolute, purest form?
One community in Iowa is lucky enough to experience such random acts on a daily basis. Local resident, 93-year-old Bob Williams, has spent the past 11 years going out of his way to bring joy to people’s lives. Often referred to as “The Candy Man” in the Long Grove area, the WWII hero is a legend in his own right.
Williams is a retired schoolteacher who places great importance on connecting with people. “He’s a man of few words,” says one neighbor. “And he doesn’t like to talk about himself.” But despite his humble approach to life everybody seems to love it when he is around. “It’s always a good time when Bob’s here,” another resident admits.
Williams’ main goal is to bring joy to his neighborhood as often as he can. His strategy is simple but effective and resonates across the community, among people young and old. Furthermore, his kindness knows no bounds, does not discriminate and is delivered in the sweetest way possible.
People are commonly left elated after an encounter with Williams, and friends have nothing but praise for the kind old man. He never tires or grows bored of his habit but simply keeps making the same kind gesture. But what is his secret and how can one man bring so much happiness to a community?
Well, the answer is short and sweet: chocolate! That’s right, Williams has been doling out free Hershey bars for more than a decade now. He buys the bars by the box load every Saturday morning at his local Dollar General. The store offers a discount on this particular day so the retiree makes the most of the deal.
What’s more, the first three Hershey bars are given out before he even leaves the store. Two are handed over to Dollar General employees, while the third finds its way to whoever is lucky enough to be behind him in the line for the cashier. After that the fun really starts. Williams heads outside to find anyone who looks like they might need a lift and gives them a candy bar to brighten their day.
It gives Williams great pleasure to watch people’s reactions when they receive the sweet treat from him. “You’d think that I’d given them keys to a new car,” he told Fox News. “They’re thrilled.” What’s more, it’s not only those in need of cheering up that get a bar of chocolate.
“He’d leave one and say, ‘You give that to someone who you know needs a smile on their face today,’” explained one of Williams’ former work colleagues. “Over the years, he’s just become a presence. The perfect word for Bob would be ‘Legend,’” she added. Understandably, the WWII veteran is very popular in the area and has become better known as“The Candy Man.”
Williams’ decade-long commitment to spreading joy means his fridge is never without candy. Stacks of chocolate bars are piled up in neat rows, leaving little room for anything else. He loads up on candy every weekend to make sure he has plenty of reserves for his lucky recipients.
Extraordinarily, Williams is believed to have bought some 6,000 Hershey bars over the years. You could say he’s a welcome regular at the Dollar General! But apart from the initial thrill of being handed a free chocolate bar, what impact is this adorable pensioner having on his community? And does he realize the lasting impression he’s making?
Possibly not, actually, because while one of Hershey’s “Heartwarming The World” videos spells out the simple pleasure his kindhearted tradition is spreading, some fans reckon Bob is blissfully unaware of his actions. “I don’t think he realizes the effect he has on people,” says one resident. “It’s the little things in life that make a big difference,” says another.
But despite many believing we could all take a leaf out of Williams’ book and learn how to “pay it forward” in a straightforward way, the man himself has a much simpler agenda. “Well, everybody knows Hershey,” he explains, “and everybody likes Hershey bars. I thought I could give somebody a Hershey bar if it puts a smile on their face.”
And in case you’re wondering what he gets out of it, well, he simply wants to see people smile. “It just makes me feel good,” Williams says on the video. “It’s guaranteed to light up most anyone’s life. You’ll see.” It’s a simple theory that proves extremely effective. And he has no intention of stopping, either.
Not only that, Williams has the full support of Hershey’s to continue his sweet little ritual. The company is more than happy with their committed new salesman and has promised to keep him stocked up with candy bars for as long as necessary. So he’ll never run short of delicious treats for the good people of Iowa.
Moreover, as the story spread, YouTube users gushed at the heartwarming tale. “How cute is he? I want to be like Bob in my community!” wrote one viewer. “Another reason why my entire family has always loved Hershey’s!” In fact, Williams’ generosity soon became a viral sensation.
Lots of people praised the war vet for making the world a better place through his kindness. “Thank you, Bob! You bring light to the world!” wrote one, while another suggested, “The world needs more Bobs; let us all adopt Bob’s heart!”
Meanwhile, plenty of users were quick to also praise Hershey’s for sharing the story and helping spread joy with their tasty candy. “Beautiful story, thank you Hershey’s,” wrote Sandra Beasley, who went on to namecheck the company’s founder, Milton Hershey.
Hershey himself was something of a philanthropist, establishing various initiatives designed to benefit the community in Pennsylvania where his business was located. He was a supportive boss who, like Williams, cared deeply for the well-being of others. Famously, his company supplied the US military with chocolate during World War II.
And of course, Hershey’s familiar brown bars continue to be a ubiquitous sight across the land – including in Long Grove, IA, where one 93-year-old is doing his level best to spread joy through the medium of chocolate. And long may it continue. “I have no complaints,” says Williams. “I’m way ahead of the game, way ahead of the game!”