In small bowl, combine dates, soda, and boiling water and let cool to lukewarm.
In another bowl, cream sugar and margarine (shortening). Add eggs and beat until fluffy. Sift dry ingredients together; add alternately with date mixture and add vanilla. Pour into greased and floured 9 x 13-inch pan.
Combine brown sugar, chopped nuts and chocolate chips. Sprinkle on cake batter. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until tests done.