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Why Are Ham And Chocolate Bunnies An Easter Tradition?

04/04/2012

Walk into any grocery this week and you’ll be presented with a huge array of ham’s. It seems as though hams, eggs (for dyeing or pre-dyed at Target) and chocolate bunnies are must-haves for Easter in America. But why is that?

Ham makes perfect sense from a traditional perspective. Historically, the average farming family kept a cow or ox ā€” if they could afford one at all ā€” for work and milk, not meat. One pig a year was bought in the spring, fattened over the summer, and butchered at the beginning of cold weather.

Preserved pork is arguably the meat that has kept the world fed more than any other. Ham, the generic term for the salted and preserved back leg of a pig, has taken on a multitude of different forms; all are very different in how they have been processed, how they should be prepared, and how they taste.

Americans consume about 51 pounds of pork a year on average, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Most of that is bacon, but ham is right up there.

It’s a little harder to draw out the historical underpinnings of chocolate bunnies. Contrary to what this spring-time holiday may lead you to believe, bunnies don’t lay eggs. And they certainly have nothing to do with the production of chocolate eggs. And while many of us are used to — even love — the idea that rabbits and eggs come together to bring us sweet treats, in nature, they just don’t. So, how is it that the Easter Bunny came to deliver chocolate eggs?

The origin of these two Easter symbols date back hundreds of years and have evolved dramatically over time. The Easter Bunny and Easter eggs began as two separate symbols for the same thing: fertility. Easter eggs turned chocolate in the 19th century, and were produced mainly in France and Germany. The production of these eggs didn’t really take off until Cadbury began mass producing them thanks to the introduction of a pure cocoa. Since then, the production of chocolate eggs (and bunnies) has greatly increased, and Easter is now the second day of the year with the highest sale of candy — after Halloween, of course.

So rather than obsessing on the calories and fat grams consumed on Easter while eating ham and chocolate bunnies just tell yourself you’re doing your part in carrying on an important tradition. That will offset any guilt.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Larry Thompson permalink
    04/04/2012 8:11 am

    Gotta love those hollow chocolate bunnies at Easter. Never cared for the Cadbury style chocolate eggs with cream fillings. But for forgot to give a single mention to Peeps! The most important Easter candy of all! LOL! Have a great Easter!

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