I went to my 2nd favorite Spanish-English dictionary, the Velázquez. Looking up bola—which bolita is the diminutive of—gave us some interesting options. The first definition is the obvious origin for the namesake candy: "Ball, globe, pellet; marble, bolus". But did you know that bola also means "Lie, falsehood, humbug, hoax, fib"? Or "Blacking for shoes"? And there are several more definitions for bola, both solo and in colloquial phrases, that are listed in the Velázquez.
My colleague, likewise intrigued and chocolatized, went the internet resource route. Babel Fish translates it simply as "small ball". Wikipedia, however, delves into the brief history of the Bolita Lottery in Florida. According to Slow Food USA, the Bolita Bean got its American start right here in Northern New Mexico, and is more richly flavored than look-alike pintos. And on the Señor Murphy site: "A Santa Fe legend says these little balls of rich chocolate fudge will bring happiness." So true, oh so true.
We are of course surrounded by Spanish-speakers—staff, patrons, family members—but sometimes we just need a good excuse for an informational scavenger hunt. We're not only much more informed now, but hopefully our massive brain excursions burned at least some of the calories from the bolita-feast. So come on in to any of the Library's reference sections and get us started on a new search. Unfortunately, we've already finished the box of bolitas!
* The reference librarians had more than two bolitas apiece, of that you can be sure.