Easter Egg Redux

I have had such a busy last few weeks that I totally forgot to post this blog entry that should have been uploaded on Easter Sunday! Back in the UK it’s a tradition to give chocolate Easter Eggs as gifts on Easter Sunday. Over here in the USA they have been very hard to come by and only recently have I started to see a few more of these for sale. As an aside, I find this odd, as it’s unusual for confectionery manufacturers to miss a new marketing opportunity, but there you go.

Last year I managed to get a mold and make a chocolate egg for my wife, as detailed here. This year I thought I’d do something a little different so I used the same mold but instead made a ceramic two part egg and glazed it in white with blue and yellow highlights, in the style of a faux Faberge Egg. As a finishing touch I filled with some of her favorite chocolates, Wilbur Buds, from Lititz, PA.

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170428_LateEaster2

~Richard

Hershey – a paradox

I stayed in Hershey, Pa over the weekend as my daughter and her friends were attending a concert at the Hershey Stadium. The town of Hershey is a thriving place, designed and built in the early 20th century by the great Milton S. Hershey, the most famous chocolate maker in the US and probably one of the most famous chocolate makers in the world.

Mr. Hershey’s story is fascinating – a poorly educated, failed confectioner with a devoutly religious mother and a father who was, to say the least, a bit of a reprobate, and who after years of hard work develops  a successful caramel (Lancaster caramels) that sells internationally and makes him very wealthy. This would have been a good enough “rags to riches” story but Milton decided that caramels were not the future so sold his business in 1900 for the astonishingly huge sum of one million dollars and then sank all his money into developing his new passion, chocolate.

For this he bought the latest technology, employed modern production methods and developed a new process for making chocolate using lots and lots of locally sourced milk. For this reason he sited his new town in the heart of Pennsylvania dairy country. The new town’s name was chosen by vote to be Hershey, as a tribute to the man and he employed thousands of people in his hugely successful business.

He also suffered tragedy though as his young wife, Kitty,  became ill and died in her early 40s devastating him. As he and Kitty had no children Milton established an orphanage school to provide free education to thousands of children over the years and which, today, provides the same service for students of humble background.

Milton S Hershey was a true philanthropist, of the ilk that we do not see so often in modern times, and his various companies, institutions and organizations carry on his legacy to this day.

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So, where’s the paradox, you may be asking?

Well, as someone brought up in the UK, I have to admit I simply cannot stand the taste of his chocolate. Even the smell of it is quite nauseating. I have tried many times over the decade that I lived in the US to get used to it but I simply cannot. To me it smells and tastes like paraffin wax (kerosene).

There’s my paradox – I admire what Milton S. Hershey achieved, his philanthropy and general attitude, and the fact that he made his fortune on a product that is of actual food value (unlike Coca Cola, for example), but I simply detest his product. There, I’ve said it!

~Richard

Easter Eggs

As British ex-pats living in the US one of the quirky things we miss from our immigrant tradition at this time of year is the chocolate easter egg. The supermarket shelves are fully stocked with colorful, but ghastly, marshmallow peeps in a variety of shapes and sizes, there may be myriad easter-themed other chocolates, and mounds of chocolate bunnies, but alas, no hollow eggs. I do see mini-eggs and creme eggs, but where are those large hollow confections we used to love as a kid in the UK?

When easter came round we would usually get a couple of these from family. Displayed in their quirky half-boxes so that you could see the bright foil that encased the chocolate, they were a welcome treat for all children. In fact in the UK there are still around 80 million sold each year, which has to be about 3 per child!

In the “good ol’ days” the eggs would also contain a surprize of some sort. Usually in the form of more chocolate goodies, or other candies, but sometimes a small toy or a keepsake. Over the years, this seems to have changed, with these “extras” now being included in the box rather than the egg itself. I don’t know if that’s because of production costs or some kind of “health and safety” directive, but either way it’s a shame in my opinion. It spoils the fun of cracking open the egg.

So, what’s a man to do? Well, only one thing for it – get some molds from eBay and make my own, and what’s more this has the added benefit of me being able to choose the chocolate too! (I won’t bore you with my rant about the concept of American ‘chocolate’ here…).

A quick trip to purchase the last 3 bars of the increasingly elusive Scharffen Berger Milk Chocolate (the best American chocolate there is) at Wegman’s and a few hours later, my handmade gift is ready for my wife:

160326_EasterEgg

Happy Easter (egg) to all!

 

~Richard

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