Traditions Behind the Easter Classics Every-Bunny Loves

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Classic Easter Candy

Photography and styling by Laurie Mosco

We’re tired of this winter vortex. Let’s turn our thoughts to warmer weather, pastels, flowers, and the holiday that’s the Spring-board for the Spring season — Easter!  Time to get egg-cited for baskets overflowing with sweet snacks. According the National Confectioner’s Association, 90% of Americans plan to include chocolate or candy in their Easter Baskets. We all know the Easter candy classics every-bunny loves, but do you know how they became a part of Easter tradition?

We decided to do some hunting for the traditions behind these nostalgic Easter basket staples and here’s what we found. Let’s hop to it!

Chocolate Eggs

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Foil Wrapped Chocolate Eggs make terrific basket filler

Velvety, rich, sometimes with a creamy, sweet center, and wrapped in a flourish of foil in pastels and jewel tones, there’s no denying that chocolate eggs make an egg-cellent addition to Easter baskets.  But why eggs?

It seems the answer lies in both Pagan and Christian traditions.  Eggs are seen as a symbol of renewal — a major theme for Easter. In Pagan customs, the egg symbolizes the start of all life and was often believed to possess magical powers. In Christianity, during the observance of Lent (the weeks leading up to Easter) many Christians abstain from eating meat and dairy products – including eggs. Since chickens don’t take a vacation from laying eggs during Lent, the eggs are hard boiled, dyed brilliant colors, and saved to enjoy on Easter.  It’s believed that chocolate eggs are a representation of this longstanding tradition. They certainly renew our spirits when we see them sprinkled in baskets.

Easter Bunny

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Molded Chocolate Rabbit

Hard to imagine Easter celebrations without the chocolate bunny. They seem to multiply like rabbits every year around this time. The numbers are hare-raising – 91 million chocolate bunnies are sold in the US every year according to Insider. But can any-bunny tell us the reason?

We didn’t want to jump to conclusions, so we went down the rabbit hole to unearth the story. Here’s what we’ve dug up. Rabbits and bunnies in Easter celebrations apparently have roots in ancient Pagan traditions where the rabbit represented the most potent fertility symbol, new life, and springtime, according to Mental Floss and Chocolate Trading Co.  Most specifically a pre-Christian German fertility goddess who had a rabbit as a sidekick.  As part of an April festival held in the goddess’ honor, her rabbit would deliver eggs to children.  This German tradition was later wrapped into Easter.

But that still leaves the question – why a chocolate bunny?  Answer — Germany and their uber chocolate making abilities. In the mid 1800’s, chocolate molds became plentiful and Germans had a deep appreciation for the craft of molded chocolate.  Combine their affinity for molding chocolate with their folklore about bunnies bringing eggs at Easter and voila you have the start of today’s sweet tradition of the chocolate Easter bunny and those delectable chocolate eggs.

Jelly Beans

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Favorite Easter Candy Jelly Beans

We’ve ‘bean’ wondering about the origin of Easter jelly beans. Bold colors, a bounty of flavors, all in a bitty bean shape, jelly beans have ‘bean’ an Easter staple for years but they didn’t start out that way. As late as 1886, jelly beans were considered a Christmas food, according to Better Homes & Gardens.  We’re curious if they were referred to as Jolly Beans. It wasn’t until WWI that it was suggested that retailers market jelly beans as a part of consumers’ at-home Easter displays due to egg shortages. Jelly beans’ egg-like shape and their rainbow of bold colors made them an egg-squisite replacement for colored eggs. Since then, the sweet, chewy tradition has really stuck and customers have been gobbling them by the handful.

Have an Egg-ceptional Easter

All of this research has been egg-hausting! Perhaps, you’ve bean enlightened and are ready to hop to it, springing into action to roll out the nostalgic Easter goodies. Consumers are ready to crack open those wallets and shell out the cash for Easter classics again and again.  Don’t keep these egg-ducational facts to yourselves. Add to customers’ eggs-perience this Easter season by sharing tasty bits of trivia with staff who can share with customers through conversations and signage. Tell them you ‘herd’ it from Nassau Candy. (Fun fact: a group of rabbits is called a herd. . . seriously, we’re not pulling your leg. They are also called a fluffle or a colony.) And we all know a knowledgeable staff is a great way to stand out among the competition any time of year.

From the Easter classics every “bunny” loves, to trending confections, to seasonal novelties, we have all the goodies customers want to see in their Easter baskets. 

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