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Easter Candies

Though Easter is the holiest Christian religious holiday, it also coincides with pagan spring celebrations that are thousands of years old. In the United States, the Easter season is celebrated in both religious and secular ways.

One of the most prominent secular Easter images is the decorated egg. Children decorate hard cooked eggs with bright food colors and engage in Easter egg rolling contests, the most famous of which takes place annually on the White House Lawn in Washington, DC. Doubtless most of these eggs take too much punishment to be edible, but smaller chocolate, nougat, and malt Easter eggs, wrapped in brightly colored foil, serve as treats for children and adults alike.

The Easter Rabbit (or Bunny), often impersonated by costumed workers at children’s events, is also a key secular image of the season. Some children believe the Easter Rabbit, just like Santa Claus at Christmas, will bring them an Easter basket full of goodies. The Easter basket is typically filled with small candies in pastel shades (jellybeans are particularly popular) and possibly small toys. Chocolate Easter Rabbits are sold in sizes ranging from bite-sized to life-sized. The larger chocolate bunnies are usually hollow. The Easter bunny may also be enjoyed in the form of a lollypop.

Both the rabbit and the egg are time-honored fertility symbols associated with the coming of spring. A more recent entrant, but one that has been immensely successful as a symbol of the season, is the Marshmallow Peep, a confection molded in the shape of a young chick. The first Peeps (a registered brand name of Just Born, Inc. of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania), were manufactured in 1953. The most popular Peeps are yellow like real chicks, but they are also available in pink, lavender, blue and white. The newer Peeps are available inside chocolate eggs, and also in bunny shapes, to combine several Easter traditions. Peeps have a loyal following among both children and adults; fan websites number in the hundreds.

Easter dinners can vary depending on family tradition, but though most Americans eat eggs, and rabbit is commercially raised and is an increasingly popular low fat meat alternative in the United States, neither ingredient gets much play on Easter platters.