Easter Crack, I Mean Candy
So I'm in Target over the weekend, on a research mission (that's how I rationalize my frequent visits). On my way to the toothpaste, I'm suddenly blinded by an intense burst of color, a swath of uber-pastels that lock my vision and bring me into a state of altered consciousness. I walk toward the light, slowly and methodically, as if in a trance (along the lines of "Scooby Doo"), unaware of everything around me but the end of the rainbow, an entire aisle of Easter candy, filled to the gills with bags of eggs, row after row seamlessly stacked as if it were one big sea inviting me to dive in and swim with the dolphins.
I inch closer, in hopes of getting a good whiff, and all I really smell is plastic. But what I do notice beyond the sheer volume is the variety, the infinite ways that candy eggs are packaged, flavored, coated and marketed. Remember the good old days when an Easter basket was full of jelly beans, foil-covered milk chocolate eggs and maybe a few marshmallow Peeps? It was kitschy but simple.
These days, those old Easter basket classics are second (or maybe even third) tier items reserved for nostalgic oldtimers like yours truly. Why would you want a bag of old-school "Robin's Eggs," candy coated malted-milk balls which are hard enough to break a tooth, when you can have "Speck-tacular" M&Ms, in plain, peanut or peanut butter or Cadbury "Mini Eggs" available in milk or "royal dark" chocolate enrobed in a "crisp sugar shell."
Foil-wrapped fans get their choice of the traditional solid eggs, but at some point when I wasn't looking, a "Wonka" egg came on the scene, milk chocolate filled with some kind of graham cracker crunchy stuff. Cadbury, which is now part of the Hershey's empire, does its crÃ¨me eggs but so does Snickers (yikes) and now, there are Hershey's kisses with goop inside? Come on guys; can't you just leave a good thing alone?
Wait a second. Wasn't Valentine's Day just 11 days ago?
Easter candy is serious business. According to Larry Finkel, who oversees Food and Beverage Research for MarketResearch.com, chocolate Easter candy totaled more than $433 million in grocery-drug store (FDM) sales in 2006. An additional $105 million was rung up for Peeps, jellies and other non-chocolate confections.
That's more than half a billion dollars -- in a six week stretch.
Eventually, I come to, but am stunned nonetheless at the candy trough before my grubby little hands. And it's all so cheep (I mean cheap); an 11-ounce bag of Cadbury "Mini Eggs" is $2; the Whoppers "Robin's Eggs" goes for a rock-bottom $1.33 (with enough corn sweetener to keep your teeth chattering for hours). With five bucks in my pocket, I can stay numb for at least a week. Sugar highs don't get cheaper than this, and if a few eggs are keeping me from sleeping soundly, imagine what they'll do on a school night to our candy-enthusiastic youth.
I'm all for Easter baskets and I do believe that candy is dandy, but anyone else agree we may be in overload mode? I'm still reeling from my altered state on Saturday and my teeth are still numb. Care to weigh in?
By Kim ODonnel |
February 25, 2008; 11:54 AM ET
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