Chocolate Easter Eggs
A treat-filled Easter egg
We had visitors over from England this Easter, which meant I could replenish the dwindling tea bag supplies and crack open a proper Easter egg. One of the chocolate variety. There’s really nothing quite like it. As kids we’d receive them Easter week and they’d sit atop the sideboard until Easter Sunday, when we could finally get them down.
An original J. S. Fry advertisement
The hollow chocolate eggs, containing small cellophane wrapped packages of yet more chocolate are an annual tradition harking back to the 1800s, when in 1873, the British chocolate company J. S. Fry & Sons, Ltd., of Fry’s Turkish Delight fame, produced the first chocolate eggs. Cadbury introduced their Easter eggs two years later, but they were very different from the ones they produce today. Made from a bitter dark chocolate with a grainy texture, the Victorian era eggs had a plain smooth surface and were filled with sugared almonds. Decorated eggs were soon also available, with large marzipan flowers and chocolate piping adorning the plain shells. By 1893 Cadbury had a range of 19 different kinds of Easter eggs. Unlike nowadays though when you can pick up a Cadbury boxed chocolate egg for as little as a pound ($1.50), Easter eggs in Victorian times were considered a luxury gift item. Then came milk chocolate.
Cadbury's Dairy Milk Chocolate was introduced in 1905 and Easter egg sales increased immensely. Adults were still the prime consumers for the next 50 years. Then in the early 1950s, a designer came up with the idea for a much more inexpensive way of packaging the fragile chocolate egg. Using a carton similar to that of a light bulb package, eggs could be displayed in an assortment of bright colorful designs. The new packaging, along with lower tariffs and new methods of mass production, brought the cost of the eggs down and the market opened up to the masses. Finally, with the end of WWII chocolate rations in the late 1950s, Cadbury introduced its first Easter eggs for children.
A modern-day Cadbury Creme Egg
Chocolate Easter Eggs soon became a seasonal best seller and now over eighty million are sold every year in the U.K., with British kiddies receiving an average of 8.8 eggs each. Lately though it seems there’s something of a culture war going on, as manufacturers have started removing the word "Easter" from their boxes. Or they’ve placed the word in small print on the back of the box. Traditionalists are not happy that the prime reason for the season of chocolate egg giving seems to be endangered.
"It’s deeply disappointing and shameful that some of the biggest companies are censoring the countries’ old tradition," said David Marshall, CEO of the Meaningful Chocolate Co., whose Easter eggs don’t just have the word Easter on the packaging, but also contain a pull-out Easter story poster.
Cadbury’s defended its decision to remove the word Easter from the front of the packaging.
“Most of our Easter Eggs don’t say ‘Easter’ or ‘Egg’ on the front because it is very obvious through the packaging that it is an Easter Egg, re-emphasized by their seasonal availability”, said a spokesperson for the behemoth chocolate manufacturer. After over a hundred years of using the word Easter in the marketing of their chocolate boxed eggs, I think they’re going to have to come up with a better egg-scuse than that.