The Story of Easter and Easter Eggs

Easter Egg Tradition

Eggs have been associated with the Christian festival of Easter, which celebrates the death and resurrection of Christ, since the early days of the church. However, Christian customs connected with Easter eggs are to some extent adaptations of ancient pagan practices related to spring rites.

The egg has long been a symbol of 'fertility', 'rebirth' and 'the beginning'. In Egyptian mythology, the phoenix burns its nest to be reborn later from the egg that is left; Hindu scriptures relate that the world developed from an egg.

With the rise of Christianity in Western Europe, the church adapted many pagan customs and the egg, as a symbol of new life, came to represent the Resurrection. Some Christians regarded the egg as a symbol for the stone being rolled from the sepulchre.

Eggs as an Easter Gift

The earliest Easter eggs were hen or duck eggs decorated at home in bright colours with vegetable dye and charcoal. Orthodox Christians and many cultures continue to dye Easter eggs, often decorating them with flowers.

The 17th and 18th centuries saw the manufacture of egg-shaped toys, which were given to children at Easter. The Victorians had cardboard, 'plush' and satin covered eggs filled with Easter gifts and chocolates. The ultimate egg-shaped Easter gifts must have been the fabulous jewelled creations of Carl Fabergé made during the 19th century for the Russian Czar and Czarina, now precious museum pieces.

Chocolate Easter eggs were first made in Europe in the early 19th century, with France and Germany taking the lead in this new artistic confectionery. Some early eggs were solid, as the technique for mass-producing moulded chocolate had not been devised. The production of the first hollow chocolate eggs must have been painstaking, as the moulds were lined with paste chocolate one at a time.

Cadbury Easter Eggs

John Cadbury made his first 'French eating Chocolate' in 1842 but it was not until 1875 that the first Cadbury Easter Eggs were made. Progress in the chocolate Easter egg market was slow until a method was found for making the chocolate flow into the moulds.

The modern chocolate Easter egg owes its progression to the two greatest developments in the history of chocolate - the Dutch invention of a press for separating cocoa butter from the cocoa bean in 1828 and the introduction of a pure cocoa by Cadbury Brothers in 1866. The Cadbury process made large quantities of cocoa butter available and this was the secret of making moulded chocolate or indeed, any fine eating chocolate.

The earliest Cadbury chocolate eggs were made of 'dark' chocolate with a plain smooth surface and were filled with sugared almonds. The earliest 'decorated eggs' were plain shells enhanced by chocolate piping and marzipan flowers.

Decorative skill and variety bloomed and by 1893 there were 19 different lines on the Cadbury Brothers Easter list in the UK. Richard Cadbury's artistic skill undoubtedly played an important part in the development of the Easter range. Many of his designs were based on French, Dutch and German originals adapted to Victorian tastes. Germany came up with the 'crocodile' finish, which by breaking up the smooth surface, disguised minor imperfections. This was the forerunner to the many distinctive finishes now available.

The launch in 1905 of Cadbury's Dairy Milk Chocolate made a tremendous contribution to the Easter egg market. The popularity of this new chocolate vastly increased sales of Easter eggs and establish them as seasonal best sellers. Today the Easter egg market is predominantly milk chocolate.

Today's Market

The Easter egg market is one of the most exciting confectionary markets, with new ranges and presentations attracting more consumers every year. The Easter Egg gift market reaches all ages of the population - young and old alike.

Shell Eggs

Making up a large portion of the market are Shell Eggs. These hollow eggs filled with chocolate assortments, including Cadbury Roses and Milk Tray boxed chocolates or the popular chocolate bars: Time Out, Twirl, Flake, Picnic, Crunchie or Cherry Ripe.

Creme-Filled Eggs

Creme-filled eggs, dominated by the famous Cadbury Creme EggÒ, also make up a significant portion of the Easter Egg market. They closely resemble the original article - the chocolate shell, with its fondant cream white and yellow cream yolk. Over the years, variations on filled eggs in Australia have included Hazlenut Truffle, Dairy Milk Truffle, MarbleÒ and CaramelloÒ.

The Land of Cadbury

The Land of Cadbury was introduced in Australia in 1997 as the umbrella campaign for Easter. The Land of Cadbury is developed around the central tale of the Great BunnyÒ.

The Land of Cadbury incorporates some beautifully packaged items that each play a role in the Tale of the Great Bunny. The Land of Cadbury has been well-received and the figurehead Great Bunny is a favourite character.

Production Techniques

Principles of chocolate Easter Egg manufacturing haven't changed greatly over the years. The earliest Easter eggs were made of dark chocolate and were 'whole shells' rather than the half shells manufactured today.

Cadbury has always been at the forefront of machine design and commissioning and produces Easter Eggs using highly efficient computer-operated technology. Liquid chocolate is deposited in moulds that are then rotated to achieve a uniform thickness. The eggs are then cooled and the two halves of the egg joined to produce the perfect Cadbury Easter Egg. To cater for demand, Easter Eggs are produced in Australia for eight months of the year.