The “Chocolate Bunny”. Yes, the “Chocolate Easter Bunny”. Perhaps it can be said that an Easter basket is truly not complete without the presence of a chocolate rabbit nestled among the nest of easter “grass”. Perhaps it can also be said that the appearance of the chocolate rabbit delights us with the arrival of Spring that it seems to represent…
An ancient symbol of new life, it is no wonder that the rabbit would be linked to the holiday tradition of Easter. The Cottontail confection first appeared in Germany in the early 1800’s. Credited with the creation of rabbit-shaped pastry confections of baked dough, the German tradition of the “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws” (an egg laying hare) was the beginning of the emblem of the celebration of Spring. The “Oschter Hare” was placed in hidden ‘nests’ of straw for the children to delight in upon finding. The ‘hunt’ for a sweet treat, indeed. Perhaps the first “nest” that would eventually lead to the arrival of the Easter basket? Of interest, the tradition arrived in America upon the immigration of German families who brought with them the tradition of these sweet confections. But when, oh when, did the rabbit become a chocolate delight? The answer, leaves me still searching the trail…
One of the first American manufacturers of chocolate rabbits of the Easter “Bunny” was Whitman Chocolates in 1842. Of note, in 1890, Robert L. Strohecker of Pennsylvania, is said to have featured a 5-foot tall chocolate rabbit in his drugstore as an Easter promotion. Imagine the awestruck passerby’s that must have gathered at the sight of this enormous chocolate hare! The impact it must have made in the world of chocolate! Yes, it is said that the turn of the century the popularity of the cottontail mold of chocolate grew among Easter confections. In 1916, Bortz Chocolate began mass producing the chocolate rabbit form. In the decades that followed, Cadbury and Dove followed the trail of sweet success. Let us not forget the European chocolates shaped as rabbits of heavenly concoction, such as Godiva and Lindt among many others. Decadent bliss. Of additional interest, the hollow mold entered the American Easter scene in 1939 and the fervor for “hollow chocolate rabbits” quickly ensued. However in late 1942, to the dismay of the general public, and of course, of the children that anticipated the shaped emblem of Easter sweetness, the War Production Board halted the manufacture of this chocolate novelty, claiming that cocoa rations should be saved for “staple civilian and military purposes, such as breakfast, cocoa and candy bars”. A staple, indeed! Again, who knew? Happily, after World War II, the chocolate rabbit returned to the patch among the sweet Easter treats. And the first and largest manufacturer of American hollow Easter Bunnies? The Pennsylvania chocolate company, R.M. Palmer. It is said that in 1948, returning American soldier, Richard Palmer, was in search of an “interesting and novel” business. A novel business, indeed. The hollow Easter bunny known as “Baby Binks” was born. Perhaps the beginning of a longstanding love affair of seasonal, lightweight delight.
The ranges of chocolate perfection, from white chocolate, milk chocolate and the rich, dark chocolate are a chocolate lover’s delight. Whether a a solid mass of chocolate goodness or a hollow center of breakable delight, the gourmet chocolate rabbits of confectionary wonder are certainly sweet indulgences. Delight in the wonder of childhood. One is never too old to appreciate and enjoy the simple pleasures of the Spring and Easter Season. A simple “chocolate rabbit”. Confectionary delight, indeed….
Perhaps the first consideration is the joyous moment when one unwraps the foil that adorns the chocolate rabbit. After all, the brief period of time you hold that decadent chocolate in your hand is sweet. Leaving behind a trail of chocolate, perhaps? A great chocolate footprint, for certain.
And of the festive decoration of the interior with the chocolate rabbit of iconic status? Why not delight in the shape that represents a joyous season? The embellishment and styling of the chocolate rabbit as decoration. Sweet decor, for certain.
Whether a hollow or solid delight in the enchanting and sweet shape of a rabbit, the chocolate bunny is a delight for all. No matter one’s age and regardless of how one savors or indulges in this sweet chocolate confection, one thing is for certain: the chocolate rabbit has endured as one of the sweetest symbols of Easter and the Springtime Season. So I say, indulge. Enjoy.
Oh, and if the “Easter Bunny” visits you, may he leave behind a trail of “Chocolate Bunnies” for you…