Easter celebrations raise a lot of questions: Why is ham commonly served? Why do the English so dearly love Cadbury Eggs? And how did we go from Christ’s resurrection to kids having their picture taken with a guy dressed up like Frank from Donnie Darko? Well, some questions are best left unanswered, but there are others that we can sort out. For instance, what’s up with chocolate bunnies? Great question! Grab a handful of pastel colored M&Ms, throw on something floral and let’s take a look.
Beginning with the pagans of yore, the rabbit has long been associated with spring and fertility because of its propensity to reproduce rapidly at the start of the season. Additionally, in ancient times the hare was believed to be hermaphroditic, meaning that it could supposedly reproduce on its own, without loss of its virginity. Remind you of anything?
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How did this tradition start?
In the 1600s, Easter bunnies started appearing commony in German literature, which German immigrants then brought with them to the U.S. At some point between the mid-1800s and the early 20th century, a few brilliant minds began creating molds that turned the bunny into a beloved hollow chocolate treat, and the tradition spread.
When did chocolate bunnies become popular?
Although Whitman’s Chocolates started producing chocolate bunnies as a take on the tradition in the mid 1800s, it wasn't until 1890 when a Pennsylvania man named Robert Strohecker became the first American shop owner to use a five-foot-tall chocolate bunny as an Easter promotion in his drugstore that the trend really took off.
Why are they hollow?
Originally, chocolate bunnies were in fact solid. However, chocolate companies began making them hollow to both reduce costs and make the bunnies easier to eat. This didn't become an industry trend though until the War Production Board halted the manufacture of chocolate novelties at the peak of World War II. Their reasoning was that cocoa rations should be saved for "staple civilian and military purposes, such as breakfast cocoa and candy bars," two foodstuffs that were considered very important during the early 1940s.
What's the largest chocolate bunny on record?
The current champ, which was built in Brazil in 2014, stood 13 feet, 5 inches tall and was 6 feet, 2 inches wide at its base and weighed in at just over 8,500 lbs. The entire statue required 6,000 bars of chocolate for construction and was later broken down to be distributed to those in need.