Among the deliciously rich history of Easter Candy in the American Popular Culture, the Chocolate Bunny, Jellybeans and Marshmallow still reign as the standard-bearers, as defining of the Easter Basket as the basket itself.
Jellybeans had been around since the Civil War, but if it took Ronald Reagan to make them part of Presidential History, it took Roscoe Emmons Rodda, to make them part of Easter History.
Mr. Rodda renamed the multi-colored and multi-flavored little pectin sweet into “Jelly Eggs,” and sell them in baskets, thus earning him the distinguished title of “Father of the Easter Jellybean” in Candyland.
As every Easter sweetie knows, he didn’t stop there; Rodda began offering milk chocolate and dark chocolate shaped as a multitude of shapes related to the holiday, from bunnies and chicks, to roosters and elephants.
While it might be a stretch to credit him with single-handedly establishing the Chocolate Bunny as the ubiquitous Easter candy, he sure helped prop it up until it stood on its own.
Rodda also was the originator of what would evolve into that now ubiquitous Easter Basket favorite of “Marshmallow Peeps,” even surviving its dark Black Sheep Peep Scandal of 1912.
Before even his 1922 “Marshmallow Pups,” however, he was selling egg-shaped marshmallows enrobed in chocolate.
With Chocolate Bunnies, Jellybeans and Marshmallows as the base line, once the conspicuous consumption spree of postwar America got underway, big-time candy manufacturers began elaborating on these Easter Candy basics.
Already at the forefront of packaged Halloween candy, Brach’s Candy would take the lead on all things jelly and gummy for Easter(keep an eye out for a forthcoming article on their era of Easter candy ads.)
In time, candy-making companies Russell Stover took the lead on Eastertime chocolate marshmallows, eventually branching into coconut and other fillings.
The Chocolate Bunny hopped too far and too fast for any one manufacturer to corner the market on them, being available in every imaginable size and quality of chocolate by hundreds of different companies.
A bite into any Easter candy is basically a variation or combination of the chocolate, multi-color multi-flavor jellied candy and marshmallow.
And over the years, that’s resulted in the introduction of some innovative Easter candy, a few of which have stood the taste of time.
A good example of this crop is the annual reshaping of the classic Tootsie Pop into an Easter Egg.
One that is unlikely to last is the green-tinted yet still chocolate Zombie Easter Bunny.
And then there’s the oddballs of the Easter candies, stand-outs for their uniquely peculiar take on chocolates, marshmallows, colors, flavors, textures and intended symbolic twist on the traditional holiday icons. Some are plainly peculiar, one of disappointing derivative. One has vanished. Some unappealing. Oddball candies, however, don’t necessarily mean they’re all bad eggs. Two have become extremely rare but still to be found.
Here then, are the Top Ten Weirdest Easter Candies:
1. Chocolate-Covered Cookie Dough Bunny Poop
You won’t find “Bunny Poop” in the local Safeway or Croger’s. It’s mail-order only, made exclusively by It’Sugar. Nothing unusual there. Nor is the idea of a cute little Easter icon leaving a trail of some candy from their bottom a unique one.
There was something amusingly fantastical for little kids to wind up a plastic, toy chicken, and have it take a few mechanical steps and drop an unnaturally pink, blue or yellow gum ball “egg.” That’s what chickens do, they lay those round things which are part and parcel of the Easter tradition, the egg.
Perhaps if this was “Bunny Eggs,” the fantastical element would have remained, after all rabbits do not make eggs. Even if these “Bunny Eggs” were to be brown, it wouldn’t be too big a deal since that’s just a good old chocolate egg.
The concept of animal excrement, however, is a hard bit of feces to swallow on its own. Combine this with the internal ingredient being an uncooked food matter chockfull of E. Coli bacteria and led to death. Consumption of uncooked pieces of the famous Nestle Toll House cookie dough, for example, sickened several dozen people in 2009 and killed one woman.
2. Strawberry Easter Bunnies
To know the rare Strawberry Easter Bunny, one must first meet its mother, the Vanilla “White Chocolate” Bunny.
In the beginning, it was milk chocolate bunny or dark chocolate bunny.
Then someone wanted vanilla.
So along came “white chocolate,” stripped of its dark cocoa bean solids, thus missing the antioxidants of dark chocolate, and even the vitaminy riboflavin and thiamine. Its also “deodorized” for chocolate-haters. There’s not even caffeine. And that’s the “good” version. More ubiquitous is the “gross” version of cheap, artery-clogging hydrogenated cottonseed oil, vegetable shortening and lard fats, doused with artificial vanilla flavoring.
Then someone wanted strawberry.
So they kept the lard and substitute artificial vanilla with chemically-cococted strawberry flavor. In truth, the Strawberry Easter Bunny has all but disappeared, some reported sightings on back road grocer shelves made by shady confectioners. Luckily, among those colorful critters more readily ferreted out are made to order from precious candy makers using purer ingredients than in past decades – and astronomical prices.
3. Easter Candy Corn
Going by several names like “Pastel Corn” and “Bunny Corn,” this one ranks as weird for flagrant overreach, marketing itself as the spring version of a true Candy King.
A delusional derivative of the beloved triangular, orange-yellow-white candy so familiar, it needs no preamble of “Halloween.” Candy Corn so wore down the hearts and enamels of schoolchildren that it manifested into other forms, from costumes to candles. Some claim its tricolors fools the tastebuds into believing it tastes like a vanilla, banana and orange mix. Nothing tastes Halloween more than this tricky treat.
In striving to seem original, however, the Easter version changed the color balance and thus fails the moment it hits the tongue. Ignoring the fundamental uniformity, the Easter version promises a cornucopia of tastes – the individual corns are all duo-colored, coming in white on the top but with four different base colors of purple, pink, green and yellow. One bite of any color, however, makes it clear that there’s no cherry, lime, lemon or grape to savor, just a mouthful of mealy, tasteless sugar.
4. Pastel-Colored Kissables
Before even all of its silver-foil was unfolded, the power of memory taste made the legendary Hershey Kiss familiar and lovable. And so the bright lights at corporate decided to jazz it up as an Easter special in 2005. They concocted a springtime candy of milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate, nonfat milk, milk fat, lactose, soy lecithin, PGPR, and artificial flavors), sugar, red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, blue 1, and carnauba wax.
In truth, it may have been a bit too heavy on the wax, the pink, blue and yellow kisses never quite melting in the mouth as they did greasily slide down the throat.
Before it was truly a sure bet, however, the company decided to cut out the heart of the chocolate. In 2007, they swapped out the pure cane sugar with the dangerously dreaded corn syrup, and luxuriant irreplaceable cocoa butter with the equally cursed artery-hardening oils of palm, shea, and sunflower. And then, as if that wasn’t enough, they added an ominous-sounding “resinous glaze.” With that, the FDA declared that these Easter Kissables unqualifiable any longer as “milk chocolate.”
The hideous little creatures thus never lived to see their sixth Easter, permanently yanked from the Hershey line in July of 2009. Not all is lost. In case one finds a package of Easter Kissables in the bowels of a cupboard needing cleaning, they’re a super substitute for missing board game pieces.
5. Carrot Cake M & M’s
With a little bit of what makes Chocolate-Covered Cookie Dough Bunny Poop wrong and a little bit of what makes Strawberry Easter Bunnies so bad, comes the once-a-year-only special M&M candies in the impossibly imaginable flavor of Carrot Cake.
There is no real chocolate in this chocolate, of course. Following the same course of poor choices with “white chocolate,” these Easter specialty version of the beloved M&M are unusually dry (like cake lacking moisture!), the only discernible flavor being a vague aftertaste of sour cream (does this suggest the “white chocolate” has spoiled?)
Since the candies are coated in the trio of green, orange and white, these may have a shelf life that begins a few weeks before Easter.
They already have the colors of the flag of Ireland. They might as well start pushing them for St. Patrick’s Day and claim the flavor is Irish Creme.
Nobody would know the difference.
6. Marshmallow Chicks and Bunnies
A most certainly acquired taste, these are the artificially-colored Easter version of the most legendarily mysterious candy of them all, the circus peanut. For all the non-Easter year, one can find these extra-sugary marshmallows with a unique sponge quality found among the detritus of civilization only among Dr. Scholl’s shoe cushions going stale in those stores with the luxury of vast choices afforded only by extra-large candy sections.
Disrespectful wiseasses dismiss these as “compressed Peeps” but that very belittling speaks to one of their many wonders: Peeps can be microwaved out of existence but a scientific British food study a decade ago discovered that “Chicks and Rabbits” only get denser.
Not even the most assiduous Candy Historian knows when or how the Circus Peanut came into existence, but the leading manufacturer of them, based in Ohio, can regale their lore and legend.
For some reason, this one candy leads otherwise rational men to go berserk in their defense of Circus Peanuts or threaten to head up national campaigns to wipe them from existence. Perhaps part of their duality to evoke love and hate is that, despite their bright orange, blue and yellow color “Chicks and Rabbits,” the brand name of the Easter Circus Peanuts made by Brach’s, do not come in corresponding flavors of Orange, Raspberry or Lemon. They don’t even taste like Peanuts. Instead, regardless of shape, color, or the time of year they’re sold, a clean palate might suggest the mildest hint of banana breaking through the intensely reliable flavor of Sugar.
And squeezed with just the right pressure in just the right places, the Rabbits magically transform into Communist North Korean dictators (yes, look at the lead picture again).
7. Candy-Coated Marshmallow Eggs
These are a disappearing classic, alas, a sad fact of 21st century life for it offers the most purely fluffy marshmallowy marshmallow to hit the tongue and be found on the shelves.
Here is a granddaddy of Easter candy, dating back at least to the late Fifties, the Marshmallow Candy Egg.
Its most important distinction from the rest of the Easter bunch is that not one whit of chocolate is associated with this marshmallow egg.
Instead, the uber-white bit of fluff in the center can only be accessed by working your teeth through a protective armor of impossibly fluorescent-colored sugar so crystallized that you have to literally chew it apart. For good measure, there’s a coating of edible wax to give it a gleaming, glistening sheen.
8. Carrot Cotton Grape Candy
Made exclusively by Bunnyland Candy, there’s potential for a whole new world of Easter Candy possibilities by the innovative use of the ephemeral spun sugar sweet which is ubiquitous still at carnivals, fairs and circuses. Carrot Cotton Candy makes sense enough as the famously favored food of rabbits, Easter or otherwise. Stuffed into this cellophane bag shaped like a giant carrot, you’ll find sticky, fluffy cotton candy colored in an earthy tone of orange. Yet, oddly, its flavor bears no discernible similarity to the earthy vegetable. While perhaps that’s a blessing, it would seem logical enough that the pleasant taste of “orange” would be a good match. Inexplicably, however, its flavored grape.
9. Edible Easter Basket Grass
You’ve got to admit, this green candy is “green.” Think of all the shimmering lawns of freshly-watered blades cellophane grass that were saved by the use of edible Easter Basket grass instead.
Compared to some of the other ghastly ingredients of weird Easter Candy, edible Easter Basket grass is relatively harmless on the body, composed almost entirely of whipped natural gelatin that’s then flavored, baked, rolled, powdered, and cut. It’s almost a health food. Almost.
Considering many people eat ham for Easter Sunday supper, the fact that Edible Easter Basket grass derives from pig’s feet isn’t too far a stretch.
There may even be some redemption for those lapsed church-goers filled with remorse for missing Easter Sunday services and mass.
If you can forget the artificial color and stringy form, the ungodly notion of consuming Easter basket straw becomes a higher calling.
If it tastes exactly like Holy Eucharist hosts, its because its made with the exact same ingredients.
10. Mint Lamb Coconut Pops
When bits of bacon were introduced into chocolate bars, could mint lamb-flavored Easter lollipops be long behind? Think of it: one could entirely skip setting the table or washing the linen napkins entirely and just munch on this pop to enjoy both the dinner and dessert of the great day.
Hold on. These cutie pops, however, are not yet quite so efficient, thankfully perhaps. It certainly takes a cultivated taste nonetheless for the pops are mint-flavored chocolate with coconut flakes included.