Ah Easter. The day of bunnies, chocolate, and refined restraint on eating the entire day’s loot in one sitting. I know for some Easter is a religious weekend but for me it is about chocolate, four day weekends, and…well there isn’t much else. This is the best time of year because this is the only time that the rare and highly sought after Red Tulip chocolate emerges from its hibernation. The chocolate that only is seen around Easter, but when it comes out it will whip Cadbury’s butt any day. My affection for Red Tulip aside, I am not saying Cadbury is bad, but you can get that in many forms all year round, the Red Tulip experience is a once a year delight. Yes, perhaps its rarity makes it seem more delicious than it is…oh wait, my mistake, that’s completely wrong, it’s a godsend. And not those weird Ferrero Rocher ads where those weird nutty chocolate things fell from the gods, no, Red Tulip rabbits of various sizes with pink and blue waistcoats and bow ties should be falling from the sky not those.
Eggs have always been used for Easter because they represent rebirth and the beginning of life. Something which comes with a lot of images of hatched baby chickens and pastel colours as well. The earliest Easter eggs were not the chocolate kind though. They used to just be painted chicken or duck eggs that were dyed various colours with vegetable dye and charcoal. I recall painting a few blown eggs as a kid, though it was more a paintbrush and random squiggles around it with the odd dot or two. I may have only done it once or twice, I wasn’t overly fussed about it, and what were you supposed to do with them when you’re done? Display them somewhere? I suppose giving them as gifts as was traditional but that didn’t happen.
Away from the painted eggs, the very first chocolate Easter egg was created by the Victorians in Bristol, England in 1873. It was made by a company called Fry, Vaughan & Co. and instead of being the delicious smooth chocolate we have today, it was bitter dark chocolate with a grainy texture. They also most likely would have been decorated by hand with marzipan and given as gifts by the rich. Much too fancy I think, though those Victorians were an extravagant bunch with their chocolate tastes.
These were the only chocolate eggs until Cadbury tried to make their own Easter egg a couple years later. Cadbury had been making solid eggs since 1842 but were unable to make finer hollow eggs. Cadbury’s first Easter eggs in 1875 were made of dark chocolate with a plain smooth surface and were filled with sugared almonds, but compared with Fry’s it wasn’t as successful. It wasn’t until the launch of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Chocolate in 1905 that their Easter egg sales improved, and improved tremendously. It was so popular it not only increased the sale of Easter eggs but it also made them a seasonal best seller, something that remains true today. Cadbury merged with Fry’s, Vaughan & Co. in 1919 but still couldn’t produce the quality eggs Fry’s was making. May I say, Cadbury also bought out Red Tulip, along with other companies, in the 80s when they were trying to conquer Australia. Very conquery Cadbury when it comes to other companies and chocolate, very conquery indeed.
So, now you know. While you are all eating delicious chocky eggs, bunnies, bilbys, chickens, or any other chocolate styled thing today you can think that it all started with one Bristol company that brought the Easter egg to the Victorians and subsequently the rest of the world.
Have a wonderful Easter, try not to get melted chocolate on your books, and have a great day!