Everyone has their own strategy for starting in on a chocolate bunny. Do you begin with the head? Do you eat the whole thing at once, even though you know it will only lead to regret? No matter the approach, we're supporters of knowing where your food comes from, so read on for a brief history on the king of the Easter basket and find out how we went from pagan symbol to Benedict Cumberbunny.
Turns out we can thank the Germans for originating this strange, delicious tradition. In the 1600s, Easter bunnies were spotted in various literature, which German immigrants brought with them when coming to America a century later. The rabbit was originally a sign of spring and fertility, but somewhere between the mid-1800s into the early 20th century, artisan molds and a few brilliant minds turned the animal into a beloved hollow chocolate treat.
Reading, Pennsylvania, was an early hotbed of Easter candy. The Reading Eagle posted an article about its growing popularity of Easter candy in America, describing how the bunnies were made by local chocolate companies. And despite a wartime halt mandated by the War Production Board, Reading chocolate company R.M. Palmer didn't miss a beat when creating the still-pervasive Baby Binks treats.
But the popularity of the dessert only continues to grow. In 2010, a team in South Africa crafted the largest chocolate bunny ever—only to be bested four years later by a group in Brazil armed with 6,000 bars of chocolate. Last year, total Easter candy sales were $3.7 billion. Today, you can even get a bunny in the shape of Benedict Cumberbatch. What else do you need in your Easter basket?
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