Easter Candy: Origins and Traditions
Learn About This Chocolate-Filled Holiday and How to Make Homemade Easter Candy
Spring is finally here! The seasonal shift is uplifting—it symbolizes rebirth, rejuvenation and renewal, just like the Easter holiday.
Easter traditions have been around for centuries, although the consumption of Easter candy is a more modern tradition. Have you ever wondered how chocolate (especially bunnies), dyed eggs, and Easter baskets became such a great part of the celebration both around the world and here in the US? We have the inside story, plus bonus recipes for making your own Easter chocolate treats!
Easter Traditions in Chocolate
The traditional centerpiece of the Easter basket (more on those in a moment), chocolate bunnies came from the German tradition of the “Osterhase” (Easter hare). The Osterhase was a symbol of rebirth, and said to lay eggs. When German immigrants came to America (and specifically to Pennsylvania) in the early 18th century, they brought their tradition of connecting a bunny with the arrival of spring along with them.
It wasn’t until the later 19th century, however, with advances in chocolate molding techniques, that the Osterhase tradition became preserved in chocolate. German candy makers started the trend, but it wasn’t long before it spread. American amateur chocolatier Robert Strohecker is credited as being the first in the U.S. when he created a five-foot-tall chocolate bunny to promote his drug store Easter display in 1890.
And so it was that chocolate bunnies became one of the most popular treats for Easter celebrations, frequently being sold in a hollow-molded format wrapped in foil. In addition to the hollow shell varieties, solid chocolate bunnies are a favorite Easter treat as well. Here at Wilbur, our Lily the Bunny (available in milk, dark and white chocolate) looks similar to a real cottontail and is always popular.
We also have chocolate bunnies available in different whimsical designs, like our Charlie the Rabbit (available in milk and dark chocolate) and Harvey the Vintage Bunny. In addition to our bunnies, we also have other chocolate friends, like our Webster the Duck (available in milk and dark chocolate)! See all of our Easter chocolate delights available here: Easter Critter Friends
As we’ve mentioned, when the first German settlers came to the U.S. in the 1700s, they continued with their springtime bunny traditions. The children would place “nests” in the garden for the Osterhase to be filled with colored eggs. As time went on, instead of decorated nests in gardens, the more indoor-friendly basket was introduced to hold chocolate bunnies, egg-shaped candies, and other treats.
In the 1930s, the jelly bean was introduced as an Easter basket filler to complement the eggs and bunnies. The jelly bean is usually linked back to the ancient Middle Eastern treat called Turkish Delight. Since these candies also have an egg-like shape, and eggs are a symbol of rebirth, they became an enduring part of Easter traditions.
Another non-chocolate, but quite popular Easter candy are marshmallow Peeps®. First created in 1950 by our friends at Bethlehem, Pa.-based Just Born, Peeps are a unique favorite today. The originals were handmade, marshmallow-flavored yellow chicks, though they’re now available in a rainbow of colors and many other shapes. We offer Peeps dipped in our premium milk and dark chocolate for a fun and delicious take on the modern tradition.
Wilbur’s Premium Easter Candies
At Wilbur, we’ve been manufacturing chocolate since 1884, making us one of America’s most historic chocolate brands. We use the very best cocoa to produce some of the most delectable chocolate on Earth. Our products are also certified with The Cargill Cocoa Promise, to guarantee quality.
We’ve been helping to create holiday memories and traditions for over 135 years with our rich chocolate. If we’re not part of your Easter celebrations, now is the perfect time to introduce your friends and family to Wilbur Chocolate. Be sure to grab some of our chocolate gifts from our Easter Critter Friends or our Springtime Gifts selections to make your Easter holiday memorable – don’t forget that Easter is on April 21st this year!
Homemade Easter Candy
Thinking about lending your own creative hands to the Easter bunny this year? With homemade Easter candy you can control the quality of ingredients you use (great for those with allergies) and present your loved ones with carefully crafted gifts from the heart. The flavors of the chocolate and candy really shine through when you use quality chocolate products like ours. Plus, candy making is super fun and you the kids can get involved as well!
Here are a few unique recipes to get you started.
Cookie Dough Easter Eggs Recipe
You’ve heard of peanut butter eggs, but what about edible chocolate chip cookie dough eggs?
¾ stick unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup Wilbur semisweet cookie drops
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 bag Wilbur Cocoa Confectionery Wafers
2 ounces Wilbur White Confectionery Wafers
- Cream the butter and both sugars together until whipped with an electric mixer.
- Add in the vanilla extract and beat together.
- Set the mixer to low, then slowly add in the flour (be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you are mixing).
- Stir in the Wilbur semisweet cookie drops.
- Shape the dough into 12 small, egg-like shapes.
- Refrigerate them until cold.
- In a separate bowl, melt the 1 bag of Wilbur Cocoa Confectionery Wafers in a microwave or double broiler.
- Lay down some sheets of parchment paper, and dip the eggs one at a time into the bowl until fully covered.
- Once dipped, shake off the excess and place in the refrigerator until the shell hardens.
- In the microwave, melt the Wilbur White Confectionery Wafers, stir until smooth. Then pour the melted white chocolate into a heavy-duty, re-sealable plastic bag and cut a hole in the one corner. Drizzle the white chocolate over the eggs.
Jelly Bean Bark
It doesn’t get much easier than this for homemade Easter candy! Three ingredients, a microwave, and a pan are all that’s needed.
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups small jelly beans
1 ¼ pounds Wilbur White Confectionery Wafers
- Line a 15x10x1 in. pan with foil, make sure to grease the foil with butter.
- In the microwave, melt the Wilbur White Confectionery Wafers, stir until smooth.
- Spread the melted chocolate into the pan.
- Top the melted chocolate with jelly beans, pressing them in to adhere.
- Let it set.
- Cut or break the bark into pieces, store in an airtight container.
Peanut Butter Bunny Pretzel Bites
Looking for a cute and delicious Easter delight this holiday? These bite-sized Easter treats are salty and sweet, almost too much fun to eat!
12 ounces of Wilbur Peanut Flavored Confectionery Wafers
50 mini marshmallows
50 pretzel rings
100 pink or red heart sprinkles
300 pink sugar pearls
- Melt the Wilbur Peanut Flavored Confectionery Wafers either by double broiler or in the microwave. If heating in the microwave, heat on high power for 15-30 second increments, stirring after each one until smooth.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- On the parchment paper, paint (with the melted chocolate) a 3/8-1/2 in. oval and then immediately press one pink or red heart into the center and three pink sugar pearls around the heart to create toes.
- Repeat step three 100 times to create bunny paws (50 sets altogether).
- Place the sheet with the bunny paws in the freezer for a few minutes until the candy hardens.
- Next, roll the marshmallows around in the palm of your hand until they are round.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set the pretzel rings on the paper.
- Reheat the melted Wilbur Peanut Flavored Confectionary Wafers for 15 seconds, then pour into a squeeze bottle.
- Pipe the melted peanut butter candy into the centers of the pretzel rings.
- Then immediately attach a marshmallow tail (at the top of the peanut butter circle) and two candy bunny feet (at the bottom of the peanut butter circle).
- Repeat for all 50 pretzels.
- Once done, place the baking sheet in the freezer for 5-10 minutes until the candy is hardened.
- Lastly, you can peel each off the parchment paper and they are ready for serving.
This Easter holiday make things easy on yourself, whether you have the time make some homemade chocolate goodies or not, be sure to check out what we have available here at Wilbur!
Our Springtime Gifts including our Chick Tin filled with milk and semisweet Wilbur Buds, are always a great treat to share. Order online or stop in at the Wilbur Chocolate Store – we are sure to have just what you need this Easter!