Friday, March 21, 2008
Easter food conventions seem disjointed from the purpose of the day - dying eggs, hiding eggs and then hunting for them under the ruse a giant rabbit put them in the grass them, chocolate bunnies, brunching and candy laden baskets and peeps - An odd conglomeration which always struck me a bunch of seasonal habits in search of a ritual.
Paschal lamb is pretty self-evident. The next most obvious food is eggs. Rebirth, fertility and a meal all rolled into one. The significance of eggs at Easter goes well beyond symbolic attachment - for large periods of time the Catholic Church forbade eggs during the period of lent, leaving the devout with a serious hankering for an omelet on Easter morning.
Candy is good, Easter Candy is perplexing
More confusing than Easter’s savory foods is its association with sweets. Now the second most candied holiday behind Halloween, Easter baskets are filled by the big three: Chocolate Bunnies, Jelly Beans and Peeps. Chocolate bunnies, hollow – occasionally creepy, & almost never made of good chocolate are the best sellers. The custom of Easter sweets goes back centuries: mendicants and paupers were originally given hot cross buns during holy week in Medieval times, later the poor were removed and the food became a holiday staple.
Chocolate replaced the hot cross buns during the on onset of the Victorian Era. About this time industrial techniques changed in how chocolate was processed. In essence, a smoother, more consistent chocolate with a longer shelf life was being mass-produced and distributed well beyond urban centers, making chocolate an affordable treat for all. Two more practical considerations aided the rise in chocolate consumption: There are only so many buns a bakery can produce in a week, while chocolate can be produced in advance for the holiday. And people, women, men, children – all have been known to crave chocolate more than hot cross buns.
Chocolate is still the number one Easter candy, but peeps have moved into the number two slot. Made by a Pennsylvania based confectioner named Just Born, which is in turn owned by Rodda Candy. Despite a large Easter presence, the company name refers to a guarantee of freshness, not an overt evangelical testament. Peeps - a marshmallow of made corn syrup, sugar, gelatin, carnauba wax and a slate of unpronounceable chemicals - were either invented or the production was automated in 1953. Over 50 years later, If PR flak is to be believed, 700 million peeps will be purchased for Easter related activities.
There is no statistic on how many peeps are actually digested. If youtube is any guide, at least 100 million have been used in Star Wars or Lord of the Ring reenactments. Not that I can judge harshly, I have purchased Peeps and not to get all Johnny Cash about stuff: I have thrown Peeps into fireplaces just to watch them burn. Youtube seems to exist for Chocolate (Rain) and things to do to peeps.
I’d feel better about this if 80,000 actually people did this to peeps rather than watched it on youtube.
Enjoy the Easter Holiday.