Chocolate, Eggs and Easter Treats Explained

Chocolate, Eggs and Easter Treats Explained

If the mere thought of Easter gets your mouth watering in anticipation of all of that chocolate, then this is probably the blog for you. We’ve done a little investigating into how chocolate eggs came about as an Easter mainstay, as well as why chocolate is so widely loved—it turns out there may be more to it than it just being scrummy…

So, Why Easter Eggs?

The egg holds significance at Easter in more than one sense. It was regarded as a symbol of new life and fertility in many ancient cultures, including the pagan customs that are thought to have been integrated into Christian traditions. And so of course Easter, with resurrection and rebirth at its core, has rather logically adopted the egg—this symbol of new lifeinto its festivities.

Egg Hunting

Another reason why the egg has long been associated with Easter is that in mediaeval Europe, eggs were not to be eaten during lent, and so were viewed as a treat. Because of this, eggs would form an important part of the Easter meal, and would also be given to children and servants as an Easter gift. 

In many European cultures the tradition of decorating eggs with paint or dye was, and still is, quite common. Other mediaeval Easter traditions that have survived the test of time include egg rolling, in which decorated eggs are raced down a slope, as well as the all-important egg hunt. 

But Why Chocolate?

Centuries passed, and the egg at Easter never quite fell out of favour. In the 17th century artificial eggs would be given as gifts in place of real ones; the most famous being those made, some time later, for the Russian Czar and Czarina by Peter Carl Fabergé. However, the chocolate Easter egg didn’t make an appearance until the 19th century, as eating chocolate (rather than just drinking chocolate) was only invented in 1830. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for it to occur to someone to combine the traditional egg with the delicious, newly available, eating chocolate.

Easter Eggs ImageThe first chocolate Easter eggs were made in France and Germany, and because the moulding for hollow eggs hadn’t been developed at that point they were solid. In 1875 John Cadbury began production of hollow dark chocolate eggs, which, unsurprisingly, caught the attention of a sweet-toothed public, and have been an Easter favourite ever since—especially since the introduction of milk chocolate, which dominates much of the Easter egg market today.

(Image credit)

Why We Love Chocolate

The British love affair with chocolate seems to go back as far as 1657, when it made its debut in London, and today we are ranked the third biggest consumer of chocolate in the world. That’s right, current statistics show that the average Briton consumes 11kg of chocolate each year! One survey even revealed that many Brits consider the humble chocolate bar preferable to a holiday abroad. But why do we love chocolate so much?

Theories and studies attempting to answer this question seem to be fairly conflicted. There is still a lot that we don’t know about chocolate’s impact on our brains and bodies, and whether its effects are ultimately good or bad for us is still under debate. Some think that chocolate’s hold over us is connected to a chemical that it contains called phenylethylamine, which is the same chemical that the body naturally releases when you fall in love. Phenylethylamine stimulates the brain to release dopamine, promoting blissful emotions. In fact just thinking about chocolate can release dopamine. Some pictures of chocolate, at this point, surely couldn't hurt then...

In moderation chocolate is said to make you feel good, although studies show that too much chocolate-induced dopamine may actually have the opposite effect on your mood. Dark chocolate, in particular, also releases small amounts of serotonin, which is said to have a calming, anti-depressant-like effect. And chocolate also releases endorphins, which have a somewhat stress-relieving, euphoric effect on the brain. This may explain why chocolate eggs became such a popular Easter tradition.

Other studies show, however, that the most satisfying part of the chocolate experience is all about the senses. The smell and the melt-in-your-mouth texture of chocolate provides a pleasurable experience in and of itself. And, well, it’s hard to argue that the taste of chocolate plays no part in our coming back to it time and time again—no one eats 11kg of something a year if it isn’t honestly delicious!

Enjoying Chocolate This Easter

Praline Egg Image

Chocolate Counter Image

Whatever the appeal though, chocolate seems to hold a firm place in our hearts, and surely never more so than at Easter. So, if you’re feeling the need for some serious chocolate appreciation this Easter we have some things both in store and online that are sure to make you smile. 

As you might imagine, we have a great selection of mini foiled eggs and chocolate bunnies 
to get your teeth into at the moment. We particularly recommend the Gut Springenheide egg—a real eggshell filled with yummy praline chocolate. They’re beautifully decorated too so you could even have a go at egg rolling before enjoying the treat inside the shell. But, of course, the chocolate fun needn’t be confined to Easter eggs, we have some fantastic luxury chocolate boxes from Guylian to choose from too.

Egg Hunt ImageOr, if you really feel like spoiling yourself (or someone else who you think deserves a treat) we highly recommend a visit to the chocolate counter in our Gifts department, where you can choose from a selection of mouth-watering confectionaryand its there all year round too! Yum!

If you’re popping in to store with the kids between now and April 3rd you may be pleased to hear that our Easter Egg Hunt hunt is back. Children aged 12 and under can enter to win the grand prize, which is a massive 45cm tall chocolate Easter egg! Simply pick up an entry form and let the clues lead you to the eggs to enter into the prize draw. Whether you’re hunting for eggs or just eating them though, we hope you all have a fantastic, chocolatey, Easter!
22nd March 2016

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