Easter 2020 is here and by all accounts it’s not going to have the usual bank holiday fun and routine of previous Easter breaks. Firstly, it’s going to be warm and sunny, is there a bank holiday in living memory that was? Secondly and most importantly, due to the Covid-19 crisis, there won’t be the annual pilgrimage to sunnier climes, family visits, or just escaping the city for a couple of days. What won’t change though is our love affair of chocolate whether egg shaped or not, and that got us at Kit & Caboodle thinking about that most ambrosial of sweet treats, the way it’s intertwined with Easter, the cornucopia of ways to indulge and the myriad of events that have stemmed from the love affair of this delectable confectionary.
In the UK in 2019, over 80 million eggs were sold with the average child consuming 8 eggs over 4 days with an intake of around 8,000 calories. 78% of parents buy Easter eggs for their children at an average spend of £56 per child (really?!) and 24% of those parents admit to eating their children’s Easter treats (the other 76% are too ashamed to admit they do).
Another interesting stat is that 65% of people think of chocolate when Easter is mentioned and only 12% think of Jesus. With this in mind, it was only right to delve a little deeper and find out why chocolate and Easter are so symbiotic.
According to the History Channel, many Easter symbols have evolved over time, just like Christmas. Funnily enough there is no mention of a long eared, short tailed, creature, battery powered or not, delivering decorated eggs to children. Rabbits are however prolific procreators and are an ancient symbol of fertility and new life. Just like Flopsy, eggs are a symbol for new life and originate from paganism and the celebration of Spring arriving. Decorating them however goes back to around the 13th century, with one explanation being that eggs were forbidden to be eaten during Lent. They were instead decorated and when the period of fasting came to an end, they were eaten as part of the Easter celebrations.
Chocolate eggs date back to the early 19th century from France and Germany. These were invariably solid chocolate as the technique to mass-produce moulded confectionary had yet to be invented. In 1828 the Dutch invented a press to separate the cocoa butter from the bean and then in 1866 Cadbury introduced pure cocoa. Thanks to these developments, moulding was possible and the modern Easter egg was born.
Our love of chocolate consumption however is not limited to four days in Spring. A fermented drink using cacao can be dated back as far as 1750 BC. Cacao was so valuable it was used as a currency; a valuable trading commodity, it was believed to have medicinal properties and gave one power over women.
Cacao didn’t reach European shores until Christopher Columbus brought back some beans in 1502, however they made no impact until much later when Spanish Friars introduced chocolate to the Royal Spanish Court. This was still however a drink, except rather than a bitter taste as before, sugar and honey were introduced to sweeten it. Fast forward to 1842 and the chocolate bar came to be.
So, as you can see the love affair of chocolate spans almost 4,000 years and in Europe for over 500. Its popularity increased with added sweeteners and further still due to colonisation, the industrial revolution and several innovators which are still to this day household names. Fry, Nestlé, Cadbury and Lindt.
New products are continually launched whether they’re nothing but chocolate, inspired by it or to be paired with it. Kit & Caboodle have been fortunate enough to work on some of these launches including Bailey’s Chocolat Lux which was a multi-sensory experience, which is of course just what chocolate offers us in every bite or sip and Zacapa, producing the Discovery Board so that the rum can be paired with petit fours and other chocolatey delights.
We’ve seen a full-size edible chocolate house, you could stay in €60 a night in France back in 2018, an art installation made purely from dark chocolate, dedicated fairs and festivals around the world, there’s even a chocolate week!
Our love of chocolate has no signs of slowing down and this Easter, whilst we can’t run around as much to burn off all of those calories. We can take pleasure in every bite and look forward to more chocolate inspired events in the not too distant future which will delight all of our senses.