This time of year chocolate bunnies and chocolate eggs arrive in shops announcing the coming of Easter and (hopefully) spring. But why?
Chocolate Easter Bunnies
In pre-Christian pagan times, spring was celebrated by giving thanks to the ancient goddess of fertility Eostre—from which “Easter” derived its name. Since the rabbit was recognized as a symbol of fertility and new life, it became associated with the rituals of Easter and spring.
According to the National Confectioner’s Association, Whitman’s Chocolates was one of the first American manufacturers to produce chocolate bunnies in 1842, but the popularity of the bunny mold didn’t pick up speed until the turn of the 20th century. In 1916, Bortz chocolate factory began mass-producing the creamy confection, and over the decades many chocolate makers began making their own version of the chocolate bunny. Today, ninety million chocolate bunnies are produced each year.
Many small chocolate shops like The Happy Chocolatier still make bunnies by hand. With the evolution of the chocolate bunny one will find many varieties to choose from – chocolate bunnies filled with everything from cookie pieces and rice crispies to peanut butter and caramel. However, the plain milk chocolate bunny remains the most popular version.
The method of biting into a chocolate bunny has become a tradition in itself. More than 75 percent of Americans go for the ears first. Regardless of how you plan your first bite, one thing is for certain: Easter bunnies have become one of the sweetest parts of the springtime season.
Chocolate Easter Eggs
Eggs have been associated with the Christian festival of Easter, which celebrates the death and resurrection of Christ, since the early days of the church. However, Christian customs connected with Easter eggs are to some extent adaptations of ancient pagan practices related to spring rites.
The earliest Easter eggs were hen or duck eggs decorated at home in bright colors with vegetable dye and charcoal. Orthodox Christians and many cultures continue to dye Easter eggs, often decorating them with flowers. The Victorians had cardboard, ‘plush’ and satin covered eggs filled with Easter gifts and chocolates.
Chocolate Easter eggs were first made in Europe in the early 19th century, with France and Germany taking the lead in this new confection. Some early eggs were solid, as the technique for mass producing molded chocolate had not been devised. The production of the first hollow chocolate eggs was painstaking, as the molds were lined with paste chocolate one at a time. Well this handmade tradition still exists in smaller chocolate shops like The Happy Chocolatier.
Chocolate eggs are produced in milk, white and dark chocolate and available in solid and hollow versions. Many times the hollow versions are filled with assorted Easter candy. At The Happy Chocolatier, we have created a milk chocolate hollow egg and filled it with assorted Easter candies. Eggs also come filled with caramel, peanut butter and chocolate truffle.
With the arrival of chocolate bunnies and chocolate eggs of many varieties, know that Easter and spring are not far behind!