Food — Celebrate Easter in a sugar coma

Celebrate Easter in a sugar coma

By Seth Hoy

A guide to all the jelly beans, Peeps and chocolate bunnies you can eat


As a child, I sniffed out Easter candy as soon as it entered the house which forced my mom to hide the candy in various unsmellable locations.

One year she stashed everything in the pan-holding tray under the oven — chocolate and all. As you can imagine, the result was a melted blob of chocolate eggs, Peeps and Reese’s peanut butter eggs.

Although times have changed — my waistline smaller and stomach acids weaker — I still eat candy for breakfast. While the consumption of high-fructose corn syrup at 9 a.m. may have your heads shaking and your stomachs turning, it allows me, with conviction, to hereby dub myself a candy expert.

So join me, won’t you, on our journey down Easter candy row as I sample, pick and chew my way through this year’s pastel wonderland while my body struggles to convert glucose to glycogen.

Beans full of jelly

No Easter basket or office desk is complete without a bowl full of jellybeans.

And if you’re lucky, you don’t work or live in an environment so heinous where people actually  rummage through the beans picking up only red ones and leaving the black licorice. I think you know who you are.

Now it’s no mystery why in a sea full of jellybeans, Jelly Bellys reign supreme. These little gourmet jellybeans come in 50 original flavors and boast everything from Tutti Frutti to Buttered Popcorn. But seriously Jelly Belly, I draw the line at Buttered Popcorn and the tropical and sour flavors — you’ve gone too far with Jalapeno and Carmel Corn. Jelly Belly also recently introduced JBz chocolate candies which are basically M&Ms wrapped in jellybeans. No comment.

Other jellybeans on the shelf are Brach’s Fancy Speckled Jelly Bird Eggs (because they can’t just call them jellybeans), Premium Peacock Eggs, Spicy & Tangy Jelly Bird Eggs and the crème de la crème, my personal favorite, Smucker’s Jellybeans — made with real Smucker’s fruit. The Spicy & Tangy, which sounded so gross I had to try, tasted like gumdrops except without the sugar granules that make your fingers sticky. They were neither spicy nor tangy.

Jolly Rancher also has a brand of jellybeans which taste exactly how you would imagine those fruit-smelling markers taste — fruity. And finally Starburst Jellybeans which taste like, surprise, Starburst except with a different consistency, weren’t all that great. My advice: go with Smucker’s or Jelly Bellys or go home.

Bunnies de Cocoa

Sure Easter is a religious holiday about Jesus fulfilling his prophecy and rising from the dead, but I think the biblical writers forgot to mention that he had a chocolate bunny without ears in his hand on his way up and chocolate smeared on his upper lip. Let’s face it, without the chocolate bunny, there would be no Easter.

Big chocolate bunnies and their chocolate eggs have been around for, well, as long as there have been chubby children to eat them. Russell Stover, aside from their classic assorted chocolate, makes a pretty mean solid dark-chocolate rabbit. And let’s not forget about the cookies-and-cream rabbit for those who many not take their rabbits straight up. Russell Stover also has a nice selection of chocolate eggs ? from the dark chocolate raspberry whipped egg to the chocolate truffle egg. Plus they’re individually wrapped so you can just buy one without needing an insulin shot.

And while R. M. Palmer Company has a fine assortment of chocolate bunnies and eggs, they win the award for most tacky Easter candy ? the chocolate NASCAR. That’s right, a double crisp solid 5 ounce milk chocolate car. 

Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Whopper’s malted milk balls or mini robin eggs as well as many other products such as M&Ms, Snickers, Hershey’s kisses and York Pepperment Patties who wrap the same product in pastel-colored foil and call it “Easter candy.” Good work, but I don’t appreciate the ruse.

Sorry Cadbury, but you’re my least favorite Easter candy. Sure, they have that cute clucking bunny, but the crème filling is hardly appealing. The crème is far too messy and no one really bites into an eggs without tilting their head to avoid dripping. If someone strains their neck trying to eat this mess, is it worth it? I say no.

Word to my PEEPS

JustBorn’s PEEPS have been around since 1953, but have grown in recent years to be a staple of the Easter candy market. Now in five colors ? yellow, pink, white, lavender and blue? PEEPS come as ducks, bunnies and eggs and even as other holiday characters. Even though they come in counts as high as 16, realistically you can only eat about five or six before you get that funny feeling in your stomach.

But the weird thing about these beady-eyed marshmallow wonders is how people eat them. Some people freeze them, others put them in the microwave and some just let them get stale. But now the new craze is dipping these little guys in chocolate, which you think might be too sweet, but actually makes the gooey marshmallow consistency much easier to swallow.

There are also PEEP Decorating Kits that come with six marshmallow eggs and one tube of icing allowing you to personalize your PEEP. Because you can’t just eat your PEEPS, you have to interact with it first.

Swan Chocolate

But if you’re serious about Easter chocolate, you may want to head over to Swan Chocolates at 501 Daniel Webster Highway, where they have a three-foot chocolate bunny on display.

According to co-owner Theresa Anderson, the Belgian chocolate bunny weighs 28.6 pounds and retails for about $250. Elise Ford, one of Swan Chocolate chocolateers, put her creamy friend together.

“This guy takes three hours to make,” Ford said. “He’s made out of two molds which are pressed together. I have to go over it once or twice to make sure the seams are sealed. Then I coat it with an edible gold sugar dust and let it set.”

Swan Chocolate goes through about 4000 pounds of pure Belgian chocolate per Easter season to make all of their products ? such as the 16 different Easter molds. They have everything from chocolate bunnies to lamp pops and even chocolate crosses and a Jelly Bellys as well as a large assortment of other specialty chocolates.

“Easter is truly the season for the chocolate rabbit mold,” Anderson said, “like our Speedracer Rabbit, He is a unique design. While most companies have a traditional sitting rabbit, we do variety of him where he’s squatting. It’s a much more classic style than the usual rabbit.”

Swan also sells PEEPS dipped in chocolate as well as chocolate boxes. According to Anderson, there is something there in everybody’s price range. Swan will be moving into 144 Main St., formerly Kip’s Ice Cream, sometime in April.

—Seth Hoy

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