Chocolate Easter bunnies, Peeps, hot crossed buns…there are so many Easter sweets that have become tradition for grown-ups and children alike. But did you ever stop to think about how these traditions came about?
Suddenly, at the beginning of March, Peeps are everywhere, staring up at us with those little marshmallow eyes. Chances are you are in one of two camps where Peeps are concerned. You either like them fresh, soft and fluffy or you like them just a little stale and crispy. Peeps are made by the “Just Born” company in Pennsylvania. The company is names after the founder, Sam Born. Why are they so popular at Easter? Probably because they are shaped like a chick (yellow, pink, lavender, white and blue), they’re just so darn cute and they seem to multiply like rabbits.
What child hasn’t delighted in finding colorful eggs hidden among the daffodils on Easter morning? Did you ever wonder why we started coloring eggs for Easter? According to Almanac. com, eggs were once forbidden during the 40 days of Lent, but chickens kept laying eggs, so in order to not let the eggs go to waste, they were collected and decorated. We can thank John Cadbury, of Cadbury chocolate fame, for introducing Europe to the first chocolate Easter eggs in 1875.
Hot crossed buns are special Easter sweets that show up in bakeries during Lent. According to Smithsonianmag.com, a 12th century monk was the first to mark the top of these slightly sweet yeast buns studded with raisins with a cross. Legend has it that if you hand a hot crossed bun in your kitchen for a year, it will stay fresh until you replace it next Easter and it helps to ward off evil spirits. And what child hasn’t recited the nursery rhyme, “One a penny, two a penny….hot crossed buns!” This rhyme is said to have been the street cry of vendors selling hot crossed buns on the street in the 1700’s.
One of the most popular ways to indulge your sweet tooth at Easter is chocolate. Chocolate Easter eggs and bunnies fill our Easter baskets. Possibly because of the iconic Clucking Easter Bunny TV commercial, the Cadbury brand is most often associated with Easter. Originating in England, the Cadbury company has been making chocolate for 200 years. According to the Cadbury website, Cadbury was awarded the Royal Warrant by Queen Victoria in 1854, which made this the Royal Family’s chocolate of choice. These days who can resist Cadbury chocolates…let’s face it, everybunny loves Cadbury cream eggs and mini eggs enrobed in a crispy candy shell.
Jelly Beans are the third most popular candy in our Easter basket (chocolate bunnies are #1, Peeps #2) according to thenationalgeographic.com. Jelly Beans became even more popular when Ronald Regan was president. According to the Ronald Regan Presidential Library and Museum, he started eating jelly beans to give up pipe smoking. Three and one half tons of red (very cherry) white (coconut) and blue (blueberry) Jelly Belly jelly beans were shipped to Washington, DC for the 1981 Inauguration events. If you are still craving jelly beans after Easter, you will have a good excuse to eat more jelly beans on National Jelly Bean Day, April 22.
What Easter sweets do you hope to find in your bunny basket on Easter morning?