CHESAPEAKE CITY — It was the nightly bedtime ritual with his two young daughters that gave Joshua Murphy the inspiration for “Coal In A Bowl.”

“You know how it goes,” he said of the oftentimes frustrating ability of children to do everything possible to avoid going to bed. As the Christmas season was getting into full swing a year ago Murphy said his girls, Alexa and Marissa were doing their best to stay awake.

“And I said something about them getting coal. You’re going to get coal in a bowl,” he recalled. Once everyone could be in bed Murphy and his wife Tia talked about that exchange.

As a self described arts and crafter, he got all the pieces together including candy coal.

“I took a plastic cup from my house and spray painted it. I got PVC pieces and made hands,” he said. “I took a picture of it and sent it to everyone. It was a complete joke.”

His father, however, suggested he pursue a patent for the idea, which is currently pending. He bought the domain for the name and after a six month search found a company in New Jersey to manufacture 250 of the crazy creations to start.

Coal In A Bowl stands about 5 inches tall with his Santa hat perched atop a pile of coal. You also get a story card to introduce Coal to the kiddos and a smaller card with instructions for use.

“I’ve sold 10 from Facebook,” he said of the creation dubbed as “Santa’s other little helper.”

While he figures Coal In A Bowl will make a great office exchange present or a gag gift, it’s also an alternative for parents who desire compliance during this hectic season but dislike the idea of having to come up with a new story every day for that other, more well-known critter.

Coal In A Bowl shows up with his scowl of disapproval and corrective finger shake when a little one starts to act up.

“He disappears when the behavior improves,” Murphy said. “I tested it on my kids. They did not like it.”

But it works, he added, noting the changes he sees in Alexa, 3 and Marissa, 6.

“Maybe teachers will want one for their classrooms,” he said.

Go to coalinabowl.com to learn more about the new product.

Murphy doesn’t know what he will come up with next. For now he is just amazed at the response Coal In A Bowl is getting.

“It just resonates with a lot of people,” he said.

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