Who Started the Chocolate Egg?

By: Chris Obenschain  | 

Pastry chef Nicolo Moschella decorates a handmade chocolate Easter egg in Milan, Italy. Chocolate eggs, often containing tiny surprises, are Italians' delicacies of choice to celebrate Easter festivities. Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images

What comes to mind when you think of Easter? Church? Bunnies? Eggs? You might find it strange that chickens' offspring have come to be associated with the resurrection of Christ, but it actually makes sense. People have been celebrating spring and the renewal of the seasons with eggs for thousands of years, long before Christianity was an organized religion. Eggs symbolize fertility and new life, and the ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Persians all used dyed eggs in their spring celebrations. It was only natural that the tradition be incorporated into the Christian holiday, which also focuses on rebirth and renewal.

OK, so eggs and Easter have been partners for a while, but how did chocolate get involved? It's impossible to say who invented the chocolate egg, but these confections started appearing in France and Germany in the early 19th century. The first were solid dark chocolate eggs that tasted grainy, coarse and bitter.

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The truth is, chocolate wasn't really all that great back then. It contained around 50 percent fat, which made it incredibly hard to digest. Confectioners were forced to add various starches and other ingredients to make chocolate more palatable. In 1866, however, the Cadbury chocolate company imported a revolutionary press that cut out half the candy's fat content, making a smoother, better-tasting form of dark chocolate. The press also allowed the company to easily mold its chocolate. In 1875, Cadbury released its first line of chocolate Easter eggs, which were hollow and filled with sugared almonds.

It wasn't long before Cadbury's business was booming, and by 1893, the company had 19 different Easter patents -- a lot in those days! Easter candy production went into overdrive in 1905, when Cadbury introduced milk chocolate Easter eggs. To say they were successful would be an understatement: The majority of chocolate Easter eggs sold today are made from milk chocolate.

Cadbury's eggs are still incredibly popular, but the confectioner hardly has a universal hold on the market. Today, you can get chocolate eggs of all kinds from countless candy companies, whether you like them solid, hollow or filled with anything from flavored crème to expensive, gourmet chocolate candies.

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Originally Published: Mar 29, 2010

Chocolate Egg FAQ

What are chocolate eggs made of?
The majority of chocolate Easter eggs sold today are made from milk chocolate.
Are Kinder eggs still banned in the U.S.?
Kinder eggs are still banned in the U.S., but a modified version called Kinder Joy has made its way to supermarkets. It's a treat that is eaten with a small utensil and features a toy.
Why were Kinder eggs banned in the U.S.?
Despite being sold in other countries, the FDA banned Kinder eggs from being sold in the U.S. That's because the mix of edible and non-edible parts are considered a choking hazard.
Where can I buy a giant Kinder egg?
You can buy Kinder eggs at most grocery stores in the candy section.
How do you make a chocolate egg?
Open the mold, fill it with some melted chocolate, close the mold and turn it so that the liquid chocolate coats the entire inside of the mold. Then open the mold after the chocolate has solidified.

Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • Cadbury. "Our Story." 2010. (Mar 10, 2010).http://www.cadbury.co.uk/cadburyandchocolate/ourstory/Pages/ourstoryFlash.aspx
  • --- "The Story of Easter and Easter Eggs." 2010. (Mar 10, 2010).http://www.cadbury.com.au/About-Chocolate/The-Story-of-Easter-and-Easter-Eggs.aspx
  • Hotel Chocolat. "History of Chocolate Easter Eggs." 2010. (Mar 10, 2010).http://www.hotelchocolat.com/chocolate-easter-gifts-AEasterEggHistory/
  • --- "History of Easter Eggs. 2010. (Mar. 10, 2010).http://www.hotelchocolat.co.uk/easter-egg-history-AEasterEggHistory/
  • Hunt-Anschutz, A.E. "Eostre and Easter Customs." Association of Polytheist Traditions. 2006. (Mar. 10, 2010).http://www.manygods.org.uk/articles/essays/Eostre.shtml
  • Schmidt, Sarah. "Kinder Surprises: Banned in the U.S.A." The Vancouver Sun. Dec. 17, 2009. (Mar 10, 2010).http://www.vancouversun.com/life/holiday-guide/Kinder+Surprises+Banned/2353187/story.html

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