Every spring I find myself in search of the perfect candy to put in the Easter baskets I make for friends and family… and, yeah, myself too. Recently, while walking through the candy aisle at a local pharmacy I started to wonder what the most popular Easter Candy items are. So, in true Family Feud form, I hit the pavement and surveyed 100 random people. That’s right, I was THAT girl on the streets with a clipboard torturing people for an answer. Luckily, once they found out I didn’t have a cause that wanted their money or email address, most were happy to give up the answer to their favorite sweet. And this is what they said:
Coming in at number seven with 8 votes were Zitner’s Butter Cream Eggs. Hailing out of Philadelphia, Zitner’s has been servicing our sweet tooth for over 85 years. Once a year for a couple of months, their Butter Cream, Cocoanut Cream, Double Cocoanut, Peanut Butter, Marshmallow and signature Butter Krak eggs line the shelves. For me personally, this is my number two most favorite candy of the season.
Following closely behind at number six with 10 votes were Whoppers’ Robins Eggs. Manufactured by another close-to-home company, Hershey’s, Whoppers’ Malted Milk Chocolate Robin’s Eggs have been around since they were brought into the Whoppers line after they were originally introduced for Easter in 1952.
Number five came as a shock. With 13 votes, though I expected it to have more, M & M’s. Forrest Mars and Bruce Murrie introduced the milk chocolate- that- melts- in -your –mouth- and- not- in- your- hands to us in 1941. M & M’s have undergone many changes over the decades, but it wasn’t until 1996 that the Mars Company began coloring their shells to the season. It’s kind of hard to believe the candy known as the “Official Candy of the Millennium” in 1998 ranks eight on this list, but the people have spoken.
After number five, I wasn’t so surprised by number four, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups with 15 votes. Designed by Harry Reese, an employee of Hershey’s Company, in 1928, these little delights have become known as the perfect combination of chocolate and peanut butter. Hershey Company bought the H. B. Reese Company shortly after Harry’s death and maintain it as a subsidiary company, keeping the peanut butter-chocolate junkies cravings at bay since 1963.
With 16 votes, number three is a kid and adult favorite: Marshmallow Peeps. Prior to 1953, Rodda Company handmade little marshmallow chickens. When the Just Born Company bought the Rodda Company in 1953, Bob Born fell in love with the chick. Born found a machine that would mass produce the little chicks and named them Peeps. Until 1995, the chicks were only made in yellow, pink and white. In ‘95, lavender began being produced, followed by blue in ‘98. Adding vanilla, chocolate and strawberry flavors at the turn of the century, this Easter favorite is sure to be around for a long time to come.
Number one came as a tie! With 17 votes each, Chocolate Easter Bunnies and Jelly Beans top our list. Storz et al holds the US Patent to Chocolate Easter Bunnies. That’s right. There is a patent on your bunnies. However, they definitely did not invent the crowd pleaser. Having its roots deep in religion, the first edible Easter Bunnies came from the Germans in the 1800s, although they were not chocolate. They symbolize life and new beginnings in springtime. Many different companies produce them now, and when it comes to the chocolate bunny, size does matter. So, go big. Here are a couple of fast facts about the chocolate bunny:
76% of Americans think that chocolate Easter Bunnies should be eaten ears first.
90 million chocolate Easter Bunnies are produced each year around the world.
Jelly Beans are another candy that has roots in religion and are believed to date back to “biblical times.” The most popular consensus is that they are a confetti candy from the Jordan Almond Company dating back to the 17th century in France, but it wasn’t until the 1930s that the candy became an Easter staple. Prior to that in the 1900s, they were a penny candy being the first (or one of the first) sold by weight to become known as a bulk candy. Their egg shape represents the beginnings of spring, fertility and spiritual rebirth. I bet you will never look at Jelly Beans the same way again.
The remainder of the 100 top candies ranged from Cadbury eggs to foil wrapped chocolate eggs. No matter what your favorite kind of candy is for the season, it may shock you to know Americans spend 1.9 Billion dollars a year in Easter Candy, coming in at a close second to the 2 Billion annually spent on Halloween Candy. And while some of the candy has deep religious roots and others are just commercial fun, everyone who celebrates the tradition loves seeing those baskets our beloved Easter Bunny leaves for us on Easter morning. I think Lucy Van Pelt of the Peanuts said it best: “All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt!”