Candy-Coated Easter

Easter is the second most important candy-eating occasion in America (next to Halloween), and the National Confectioners Association (NCA) estimates Americans will spend $2.26 billion on Easter candy this year.

click to enlarge Shanili Latour painting a chocolate rabbit
Shanili Latour painting a chocolate rabbit

Lent, the Christian period of religious observation leading up to the Easter holiday, is traditionally a time for repentance and self-sacrifice. So there’s nothing better than splurging on Easter morning sweets to help compensate for those weeks of missed indulgences. 

Easter is the second most important candy-eating occasion in America (next to Halloween), and the National Confectioners Association (NCA) estimates Americans will spend $2.26 billion on Easter candy this year. Each Easter season, we produce more than 90 million chocolate bunnies, 16 million jelly beans and buy more than 700 million marshmallow Peeps. Thank goodness our local chocolatiers and candy makers have been contributing to our Easter candy supply for years.

Candy is a relatively new Easter tradition. Originally, Easter eggs in the form of decorative bird eggs were given as a celebration of spring, fertility and rebirth. According to Cadbury (as in Cadbury chocolate crème eggs), candy Easter eggs hit the scene in 19th century Europe, after the invention of moldable chocolate in the 1840s. (John Cadbury made his first chocolate Easter egg in 1875.) 

Also from Europe? The idea of a candy-carrying bunny. According to the NCA, the seasonal hare was introduced to America in the 18th century by German immigrants. The Osterhase, mentioned in German writings as far back as the 1600s, is similar to Santa Claus; he awards good boys and girls by placing colored eggs in their caps and bonnets. 

Today we fill baskets instead of bonnets, and chocolate bunnies are the most popular Easter treat (followed in short order by chocolate eggs, Peeps and jelly beans). And whether or not you’re like 88.7 percent of Americans and eat your bunny ears first, local confectioners have your basket needs covered.

Chocolats Latour

Chocolats Latour’s Shalini Latour worked as a pastry chef for 20 years before starting her own fair-trade chocolate business out of her home kitchen. “I’ve always loved chocolate,” she says. “My mom is from Belgium, and I lived in Brussels as a teenager, so chocolate was an important part of my life growing up.”

Currently expanding in-store sales to locations like Sidewinder in Northside, Coffee Emporium and, most recently, Whole Foods, Latour hand-paints or airbrushes each individual candy that leaves her kitchen.

Latour’s chocolate Easter bunnies come with a twist. Her white, milk or dark chocolate bunnies ($9.50-$24) are painted with a variety of natural-colored cocoa butters like pink and lavender. She also offers an Easter-themed “Bunny Box” ($28) shaped like a rabbit and filled with 13 truffles including bunny-shaped chili chocolates, pink grapefruit and mint truffles, dulce de leche butterflies and more. Her big chocolate egg ($20) is filled with fleur de sel caramels and dark chocolate duckies inside an edible shell. And her opera cream-filled chocolate eggs ($3) are an upscale version of Cadbury’s.

Fawn Candy Company

The Fawn Candy Company, a small-batch candy company owned and operated by Cincinnati’s Guenther family since 1946, offers a cartoonish four-pound white, dark or milk chocolate bunny named Thumper ($39.95), who resembles the Bambi rabbit. But they also have a yellow-tinted, white-chocolate duck ($3.50-$4.75), or a chocolate cross ($3.50) for Easter baskets or centerpieces. Their “coconut goodie nest” ($2) is a toasted coconut and chocolate patty formed into a nest and decorated with jelly bean “eggs.”


Graeter’s has a ton of candy options, including a traditional 16-ounce milk or dark chocolate rabbit ($15.95). They also have a box of 12 filled eggs ($14.95) with fillings including opera cream, black raspberry cream and peanut butter. Their marshmallow eggs ($10.95 for nine ounces) are like chocolate-covered Peeps without the creepy eyes.

Esther Price

Esther Price, started in Dayton by the Esther Price, has been offering handmade chocolates for 85 years. Their seasonal options include classic chocolate rabbits between 6 and 16 ounces ($4.50-$12.25); a variety of chocolate eggs ($1.95 each) with butter cream, fudge cream, peanut butter, coconut cream or raspberry cream filling; and boozy bourbon cherries ($28.75 per pound).

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