Recently my phone rang about suppertime. For once it wasnt a credit card offer. It was a Springfield lawyer representing Twentieth Century Fox, the movie company.
It had reached this guys ears that I was interested in Donald Todrin because of a book I am writing about Heritage Bank. He and the motion picture studio are also interested in Todrin and his Amherst-based candy firm, True Confections. They are suing them.
The candy bars manufactured by True Confections were once a staple at convenience stores around this area. Featuring racy advertising copy and artwork by Robert Crumb and other counter-culture cartoonists, the powerful king-sized bars weighed in at 390 calories, and featured plenty of fat, salt and cholesterol. True Confections Buffy the Vampire Slayer bars featured a picture of Buffy and some of the other characters out of this FOX series. A note on the back of the bar informs us that No undead were staked in the making of this candy.
Now the local DB Mart and a lot of other outlets have taken them off the shelves. A store manager made a face when he talked about the people who visited him and convinced him to put them on their shelves. At the DB market on Locust Street their last Buffy the Vampire Slayer chocolate bar was off the counter and in a box back by the cash register.
FOX has cancelled Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and in an unrelated event, has sued Donald Todrin for putting the name of their series on their chocolate bars and never paying them more than a token payment for their rights. They join a long line of other creditors, big and small, who want to take disbarred attorney Donald Todrin to court. Todrin enterprises dont pay taxes and dont pay royalties.
The Galactic Headquarters" of True Confections is at 529 Belchertown Road, former home of the old Rusty Scupper Restaurant in Amherst. Don Todrins main claim to fame will probably always be rolling papers, not candy bars. He and Mike Garjian, two UMass graduate students, manufactured American Dream rolling papers here in Florence in the 1970s. For a while it looked like they were going to be millionaires. The great American heads of the 70s rolled their joints on the American Dream. The firm was bought up by a Minneapolis-based venture capitalist, and the dream moved from Florence to Hatfield to balmy Palm Beach, Fla. where the venture finally crashed. Dennis Kitchen, former Kitchen Sink comic book guru, was told by Don Todrin that American Dream was killed off by the threat of prosecution by the Florida Attorney General. He considered rolling papers smoking paraphernalia and was ready to put Don in jail.
Todrin is a survivor. He went back to law school at Northeastern, came back to Northampton, and reinvented himself for the 1980s as a hip free-thinking small town lawyer counseling start-ups. He helped a lot of people who later went down the tubes. Living with his wife Diane in an elegant Victorian at 109 Bridge St. he became one of the key people in the Heritage Bank scandal. Four real estate partnerships that he organized with Patrick Goggins and Irving Labovitz had bank officer Mike Smith as a secret partner. They would lose Heritage $10 million.
Michael Sissman said that he knew the bank was in trouble when he saw three of the key players in these partnerships having dinner one night down at the Inn at Northampton.
Well, here they were at their table plotting Sissman said. Theres Donald Todrin, Irving Labovitz, and Mike Smith. A lawyer already renowned in town for his shady dealings, the banks counsel, and its chief lending officer, all buddy-buddy. Something was happening.
Heritage crashed and Todrin was indicted and convicted of bank fraud, but he never missed a beat. With great aplomb and unshakeable charm, he went into business saving troubled businesses, doing business as The Workout Group, a boiler-room business operating out of l51 Main St. Sporting a spiffy ankle bracelet given him by the U.S. Attorneys office, charming Todrin relieved Dennis Kitchen of the assets of Kitchen Sink. (See Business West, April 2000). As a l997 Prince Charming saving a troubled business he talked to Kitchen of putting his Kitchen Sink candy-bar business on the map nationally, as a 2000 era Darth Vader he took control of its assets. When he had the prize he had been seeking, he folded all his corporations at 151 Main St., sold his loft to April Eastman, and took True Confections and Kitchen Sink to Amherst.
Now, three years later, True Confections is on life support. Down in the courthouse there were liens galore for unpaid federal and state taxes and many small claims actions. Now Twentieth Century Fox is after him. Good luck to everyone at getting any money out of Donald Todrin. So today if youre at a store and happen to see a box full of Buffy Bars or R.Crumb Devil Girl choc-bars go on by.