What Does Candy Have To Do With Easter?

12 04 2009

As I woke up this morning and munched on my delightfully delicious SweeTarts Chicks, Ducks & Bunnies (which they only serve around Easter), I pondered why I was eating candy.  What does candy have to do with Easter?  Why do people eat bucket loads of chocolate around Easter time?  Did Jesus subconsciously tell his disciples when he rose from the dead to make sure the world enjoyed jelly beans and Marshmellow peeps on the day of his Resurrection? I can understand the Easter bunny, and how he represents Spring and new life, but what in the world does candy have to do with Easter?  I did some research, and found that America spends about $1.9 billion on only Easter candy. $1.9 billion! So how did candy come to rule Easter?

Well, it all started with a monk; a monk by the name of Father Thomas Rockcliffe.  Father Thomas Rockcliffe started to give out Hot Cross Buns to the poor on Good Friday in 1361, and a tradition was started.  On every Good Friday from them on, Hot Cross Buns were given to people.  Naturally, these Hot Cross Buns were able to sneak their way into Easter, starting the tradition of sweet treats on Easter.  But, not all Easter foods were sweet; pretzels were also a popular food to consume on Easter because of their shape, it resembled hands crossed in prayer.

Starting in the 1800s, chocolate was overtaking the timeless Hot Cross Bun as the Easter snack of choice.  As people ravenously ate chocolate on Easter, they realized that they had to come up with an excuse to be eating so much chocolate.  They decided to shape the chocolate in the shape of an egg, the symbol of rebirth.  Soon, chocolate evolved to becoming the shape of anything remotely associated with the egg; a bird, a duck, even a bunny! By the 1960s, the chocolate egg was well established worldwide.

In the 1930s, a new contender for the Easter crown stepped on the stage; Jelly Beans.  Jelly Beans were “in style” in America; they were handed out in thousands of glass jars in candy shops across the country. Jelly Beans, with their natural egg shape, instantly associated them with Easter.  They became so popular that today, over 16 billion Jelly Beans are produced today.

In 1953, a purchase was made that would change Easter candy forever. Just Born, a large candy maker, bought a local company called Rodda Candy Company. Rodda was working on a new type of candy called the Peep, a marshmellow like candy that was shaped like a chick.  In 1953, it took Rodda about 27 hours to make just one Peep; by the end of 1954, the entire process was mechanized enough to bring Peeps to the national market.  They became an instant success, and today over 700 million Peeps are made each year.  Peeps have become rooted in out Easter culture, just like Hot Cross Buns were all those years ago.

So, now that you know the history of Easter candy, can you tell me why the hell is candy associated with Easter? Because quite frankly, I have no idea what was going through Father Thomas Rockcliffe’s head that Good Friday, but he created a tradition that still has no relevance to Easter at all.  Damn monks…

Thank you Failed Succes for the comprehensive Easter candy history!




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