From chocolates to marshmallows to caramel eggs to jelly beans, Easter is chockful of candy. And for those who think Easter is only child’s play, guess again.
Americans spend up to $2 billion on Easter candy each year, according to Sweet Services, an online candy retailer. The National Confectioner’s Association says people in the United States consume nearly seven billion pounds of candy during the year, and Easter is the second-most popular holiday (behind Halloween) for indulging a sweet tooth.
Faith comes first for many Easter celebrants. But there’s nothing wrong with enjoying some candy come Easter Sunday. Here’s a look at the history behind some of the sweets the Easter Bunny might leave in your basket this year.
Chocolate eggs: The first chocolate eggs were made in Europe in the early 19th century. Since then, they have become one of the most popular and recognizable treats associated with Easter. The chocolate egg is predated by edible Easter eggs made from sugar and pastry first designed in Germany. According to the ‘Guinness Book of World Records,’ the largest chocolate Easter egg ever made debuted in 2011. It was just over 34 feet high and weighed nearly 16,000 pounds.
Chocolate bunny: The Easter Bunny also is a German incarnation. The seasonal bunny was introduced to America in the 18th century by German immigrants who believed in the ‘Osterhase,’ an egg-laying hare they believed was a sign of new life and prosperity. Germans also introduced the first edible chocolate bunnies. The NCA says 76 percent of people eat the ears on chocolate bunnies first.
Jelly beans: People aren’t quite sure where the jelly bean originated, but some think it was based on a soft, chewy Middle Eastern sweet called Turkish delight and the hard candy shell of Jordan almonds. William Shraft, a Boston-based confectioner, may have coined the phrase ‘jelly bean’ when he urged people to send these sweets to Union soldiers fighting in the Civil War.
Peeps: Peeps are owned and made by Just Born Inc., a Pennsylvania-based company started by Russian immigrants when they acquired the Rodda Candy Company in 1953. Just Born figured out a way to automate and streamline the process of making Peeps, and today they can produce 5.5 million per day.