Thanks for the bag of dicks… no, really.

Lela Barker

I received a surprise this week when I stopped by the post office to check Lucky Break’s mailbox. Tucked inside that petite metal cubicle was a small, nondescript box addressed to me. Tucked inside the box? A bag of dicks. No, really. A bag of gummy candy penises and an anonymous, unsigned letter inviting me to eat said bag of dicks. I exploded in laughter. So irreverent is my sense of humor that I assumed someone was yanking my chain. Actually, I called Melissa (my Operations Manager) from the post office parking lot to ask if she had done it to razz me. She hadn’t, but we both enjoyed a riotous laugh.




I mused with my husband over dinner about who might have sent it. I fielded an onslaught of inappropriate jokes from my two teenage girls, who were (unsurprisingly) amused by phallic gummy candy. I decided to ask my friend Google about how one sends anonymous erotic gummy candy. And that’s when I finally understood: there’s a recently launched website dedicated to the anonymous sending of hateful penis gummies. For $15 and 10 minutes of your life, you, too, can reach out and touch someone… anonymously.
I sat quietly for a few minutes. Call me naively optimistic, but I really hadn’t considered that someone was trying to be cruel. Who had sent it? Why had they sent it? Who had I wronged so badly that they had thought sending me a package of gelatinous genitalia was a good idea? This isn’t the first time someone has taken a swipe at me or my business. I know all too well that being in business is hard and not everyone will love what you do. And still, this was surprising.




So here’s the rub: I’m not perfect. In fact, I’m fantastically imperfect. I’m prone to being impulsive. I often can’t see the forest for the trees. My bullshit meter is permanently set on “negative four.” I hate to exercise and I can eat an entire box of Thin Mints in a single sitting. I’m not proud, but those little wafers are damn good…


If my entrepreneurial journey has taught me anything, it’s taught me this: when you rock the boat, people strap on their life vests and start looking for the wave-maker. And I’m nothing if not a wave-maker. Perhaps I took an unpopular stance on an issue. Maybe I boogied too closely into someone else’s dance space. Who knows? Perhaps I failed to recognize an opportunity to help someone or said something that offended. There are a myriad of possibilities, I suppose, but I’ll never have the opportunity to learn from the experience or apologize because the person that sent the gummy-dicks stayed in the shadows, anonymous.


Starting a business and being a leader is a lot like strapping a lightning rod to your head and running around in a thunderstorm. Sooner or later, you’ll be struck. Add in the possibility of allowing the Universe to strike anonymously and the temptation is often too much to resist. The lure of anonymity is so seductive- we can take that swipe and marinate in self-righteous satisfaction without ever having to own our actions or confront that which offends/ scares/ challenges us.


But each of us has a choice about what to do with the energy that we generate and have transferred to us each day. I would venture that whomever sent this energy my way could have used it more wisely: either by investing it in their business or their family or by sending me a sincere email about how I’ve fumbled. But now that the energy is here, I have the power to decide what to do with it. I could lay in bed tonight, my head full of racing, accusatory thoughts as I replay various scenarios in my head. But that wouldn’t be the best use of the energy, either.


My default reaction is always to pick up that gummy-bear grenade and toss it back doubly hard, but I’m slowly training myself to respond with intention rather than reaction. It’s an uphill battle, but I do have my hiking boots on. I vowed a long time ago not to live a life of complacency and stagnation. And while stepping out and living with passion invites criticism, I’ve stocked my dresser with Big Girl Panties and my kitchen cabinets with wine.




If I’ve offended you, let’s talk about it. I’m not flawless or invincible. My email address is simply my first name + Send me a missive… I promise to read it, meditate upon it and answer with my most honest thoughts. And if you can’t summon the courage to do anything but send me food, then let’s up your game and send me the good stuff, shall we? A few of my favorites…


Sea Salt caramels from Good Karmal

The Exotic Truffle collection by Vosges

Jeni’s Goat Cheese & Red Cherries Ice Cream

Dark & Stormy Popcorn by Butter + Scotch


Each of us has a choice: when someone lobs a grenade your way, how do you react? If you’ve been on the receiving end of anonymous or internet hate, I’d be honored if you shared the story in the comments. There’s power in talking about it and wisdom to be gleaned from it. So, what’s your story?


About the Author

Lela Barker

Lela Barker hails from the deep-and-dirty south (ATL, represent!), where she spends her days helping makers and product designers navigate the pitfalls of product pricing, brand development, and wholesale strategy. She launched her apothecary brand in 2003 and bootstrapped the hell out of that little business to cultivate a portfolio of 1500+ stockists worldwide, generating $12million in revenue and establishing successful distributorships in the Middle East, EU, Scandinavia, and South Korea. Lela is the keeper of a well-worn passport and the maker of the finest lemon meringue pie you’ve ever put in your mouth.

18 responses on “Thanks for the bag of dicks… no, really.

  1. Lauren

    So well said. Thank you. I was just discussing this feeling of anonymity on social media and how we handle it with some parents on the playground yesterday. I am also amused it’s a business going old school with mail.
    Keep on keep’en on!

  2. Danielle

    I bet they didn’t mean it hatefully, but found a convenient and anonymous way to delight you. With penises. [insert inappropriate joke here]

    No, it wasn’t me. My friend makes crochet bags of dicks, so if you ever get one of those, you’ll know who did it. 😉

  3. Yvonne, The Dahlia Scene

    This is hilarious! I wish people would send me these kinds of things versus leave me hateful comments, because at least I’d get a laugh. I’m sorry that someone was unhappy with what you provided them but thankful for the fabulous story! You and your kids will be telling this one for the ages I’m sure. It’ll be like that obscene phone call I picked up when I was 8, haha.

  4. Amanda

    I must be dense too because the first thing I thought was ooh look someone sent you something to check out awesome branding of gummy dicks – lol who cares just eat the dicks and move on. I bet they taste good – anything gummy always tastes good 🙂

  5. Patricia

    Hey, Lela!

    Whoever sent these has no testicular fortitude…(a nice way of saying they have no balls.) This would never be my style. I think you know me well enough to say that if I have an issue with you, I say it straight up. We’ve had a couple of minor differences of opinion, but I still love you anyway, and greatly admire all that you do. And I always laugh at your wicked sense of humor. To return the favor, may I say that these little gummies are rather stubby little things and not worth eating? I mean really. They could have at least sent something sizable. How tacky.

    This sort of reminds me of the lady that has done all my printing for the past 20 years. I was in her shop one day and she was telling me she had printed some labels for “Penis Soap.” (Assuming it was Melt & Pour.) She told me they has received an order for 2,700 soaps from their cheesy online client – a triple X-rated website. Yep, they knew their target market well. It’s a depraved world we live in. Unfortunately, sex sells.

    Love the photo. You look stunning! You look like you’ve lost some weight – or it’s your really good photographer…lol. I need someone like that. 😉

  6. Tammy

    I love your response Lela. I truly believe one attracts the same type of energy one puts out. Good karma for you all the way! But if this was meant to be mean and hateful, the sender is likely already swamped in that karma. I hope you enjoyed those gummies ~ sweet “revenge”. I can only hope that when I piss someone off, they send me edibles too ~ chocolate please. And I promise to be insulted and humiliated while indulging! 🙂

  7. Quenzette

    Nice response! Just thinking and this is just my way of thinking is OMG someone sent me another gift…Thank you so much and like you I would post a list like you did stating what I really would like! But maybe it was meant to be an insult since the person didn’t leave a name. Or maybe a secret admirer? Yes that’s it and the person knew that you are married! ROFL But as you mentioned it could be a lot of different things. Kudos to you for the way in which you handled this…(nice nasty) and I really mean this is a good way! 🙂 You’re a class act! You remind me of myself! 🙂 I really hope to me you one day!

  8. Anne-Marie

    Ah, you are such a class act. I’d think a bag of gummies shaped like phallic symbols was also a huge joke =)

    I get a lot of criticism. I think the most painful one was when I was sharing the news of my second child’s birth and someone wrote in and said something to the effect of, “We don’t care about your family. You’re like the co-worker that tells us all about your weekend when we don’t want to hear it. We just come here for the recipes and information. Quit talking about your family.”

    At least this person signed her name (!) so I was able to reach out to her though. Anonymous packages sent through the mail are no fun!

    I’ve also gotten “fan” mail in the form of naked pictures from men in prison. That’s right up there with a bag of gummy phallises! =)

    Chin up, you’re doing great, and educating a whole new generation of makers!

    1. Martina

      Oh my gosh, Anne Marie, I can’t believe someone wrote that to you! How mean! I love everything you write and that includes posts about soap recipes AND family. Lily is the cutest thing ever and seeing a picture of her always puts a smile on my face. 🙂
      And I had to laugh about naked pictures. Seriously, people do that?!!?!?!?

      And, as for penises, I would never think that’s insulting, I just think of it as funny. You, Lela, are really being classy. If I were you, I would not give it another thought. If someone had a problem, they should have said so. 🙂

  9. Sandra L

    OMG! I don’t know you personally but I feel like we’ve had a few mocha lattes together just from reading your blog over the last few months. And the branding tips and how-to gems you toss out for FREE are worth a box of Godiva Chocolates (my favorite). Sad that someone is so resentful of you. And I’m shocked what someone wrote to Anne Marie about her family. I love seeing small peeks of the personal side. I wish I could relax and let more of my personal side out, but I think it’s a generational thing. To quote Taylor Swift: “…and the haters gonna hate.” Keep your dresser drawer and wine cabinet stocked.

  10. Sue Finley

    You are a prolific writer. And you are a fabulously wonderful human being. I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to meet you at the HSCG conference and sit with you and a group of other wonderful women afterward. I am glad you are not allowing this to get you down. It’s the chance you take, sadly, when you put yourself out there into the public. You handled this with grace.

  11. Lesli Sagan

    Wow. It’s certainly a step up from lighting a bag of dog poop on your doorstep… but there’s definitely a creepy, middle school vibe to it. (I wonder if there’s a business sending anonymous chocolates shaped like scat with a card that says, “Eat …” Probably.)

    Here’s to hoping that the sender grows up and learns how to address issues rather than attack people!

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