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It’s easy to be cynical about the prospect of chocolate Easter Eggs - after all, in many parts of the UK they hit the shelves in January. Barely have we recovered from having our wallets emptied by Christmas and here comes another pagan-cum-Christian holiday whose raison d’etre seems to be forcing us to part with our money.
We understand: capitalism has much to answer for. However, as a counter-argument, may we put forth that everything seems a little less concerning with a mouthful of chocolate? And also, if you review the history of Easter Eggs, it’s so storied and, well, silly, that scoffing them on Easter Sunday seems positively reasonable by comparison.
Why do we eat chocolate Easter Eggs at Easter?
The tradition of giving people eggs has pagan roots, as centuries ago people gifted (chicken) eggs to each other to celebrate the beginning of spring.
The delicate oval represented fertility, rebirth and new beginnings in celebration of the spring equinox for centuries, before being absorbed and adapted to fit into the Christian tradition. There, the gifting of eggs transmogrified to symbolise Jesus’ return to life - the Resurrection - after three days of death, crucified by the Roman Empire.
Come medieval times, eating eggs was forbidden for Lent (the 40 days before Easter. Lent marks the 40 days Jesus spent ahead of his crucifixion wondering the desert, feeling quite upset about being the son of god and knowing he had to sacrifice himself to save mankind), as part of the abstinence Christians practised ahead of Easter.
When Easter Sunday came, then, and eggs were exchanged, they were not only considered a symbol of new life, Jesus’ return, but also, for the recipient, they were enjoyed as a long-missed delicacy.
Eggs were gifted to the Church on Good Friday, and villagers would also gift eggs to the lord of their local manor (trickle-up economics? See, a silly history indeed).
As we moved into the Victorian era, eggs had morphed into hollow cardboard ovals, decorated in different fashions, stuffed with Easter gifts and - mmmm, chocolate. The ritziest example of this are the bejewelled Fabergé eggs gifted to the Czar and Czarina of Russia – now worth millions of pounds.
At this time, people in France and Germany started to gift chocolate Eggs, though the chocolate-making process at this time lacked refinement: the eggs produced were solid, bitter, and dark.
In 1875, Swiss chocolatier Daniel Peter changed the ballgame by inventing milk chocolate, and the silky, delicious, sweet Easter confectionary we adore become an annual staple.
And what a staple - according to GWD, the UK purchases £299 million worth of Easter chocolate each year - that’s 90 million eggs. Indeed, it translates to around 8000 calories per child consumed in a single week.
(Mercifully they didn’t record the excess calories consumed by adults at this time).
Thanks for that, but which are the best Easter Eggs?
Potted (or scrambled) history aside, let us get to the 2022 eggs. It’s a crowded chocolate market out there, so before you cram anything into your maw, it’s worth knowing the choccy in hand is worth your cash - and the calories.
We’ve hit up the most prominent UK supermarkets for their own-brand or store exclusive eggs, eaten them - and somehow emerged, mouths smeared and bellies full - to write about it.
Reporting by Aimee Stanton, Harriet Clugston, Rhona Shennan, Rosalind Erskine, Helen Johnson
We happen to be of the philosophy that no Easter is complete without a Lindt bunny to enjoy, and this is the ultimate incarnation - a hefty kilo of the iconic chocolate.
If you’re lucky enough to be familiar with Lindt, you’ll know it takes smooth and creamy to the next level, with a decadent mouthfeel, and a perfectly pitched sweetness - never too cloying.
This big, big bunny may be a (slight) wrench to whack into pieces, but the shards come out satisfyingly thick and chunky - a true religious experience.
It seems perfectly logical to us that Easter confectionary has evolved to depict soft-bellied molluscs.
This cute character is sure to appeal to big and small kids this Easter. Made with ‘extra creamy’ milk chocolate, Inky has intricate features.
When it comes to the chocolate, it’s smooth and quite sweet - more so than you may expect but as this is aimed at children, it works.
If you love a chocolate biscuit then this egg is ideal. Based on the M&S chunky chocolate biscuits, this extremely chocolatey biscuity egg does exactly what it says (on the biscuit tin).
The creamy milk chocolate, shaped like a giant - you guessed it -biscuit, is studded with crunchy (yep!) biscuit pieces for texture. This egg is great with a cup of tea.
This egg comes in its own paint tin, and looks very appealing - as if it has been dipped in pastel paints.
The Belgian chocolate is smooth and moreish but the colourful drips are very sweet, which takes away from the quality chocolate somewhat and may not appeal to all.
If you’re a fan of KitKat and Biscoff then this is the Easter egg for you. The box includes one Easter egg and three full-size Kit Kat Chunky Lotus Biscoff bars.
While the egg itself is just standard KitKat chocolate, it still delivers a rich and creamy taste, but it’s the individual Biscoff bars that are the real treat.
They combine the iconic chocolate and wafer duo of the classic KitKat with soft, gooey Biscoff and are a delight for the taste buds.
PHWOAR. Get, indeed, in.
The Easter egg itself is luxuriously indulgent, providing the iconic rich and creamy chocolate Lindt is known for.
The egg also comes with eight separate and individually wrapped delicious Lindt salted caramel truffles, which are rich in flavour and melt in the mouth.
If you love Cadbury’s chocolate and chocolate fingers then this is the Easter egg for you. The egg itself provides the classic Cadbury taste, but is made with shortcake biscuit pieces, which is a refreshing twist.
It also comes with three individual bags of Cadbury Nibbly Fingers, which are small versions of the iconic Cadbury fingers.
This egg is a little pricier at £12, but the egg is huge and provides a lot of chocolate for your money.
This dinky white chocolate lemon looks and smells just like the real thing, right down to the dimpled skin.
One thing it is not is very chocolatey, so is perhaps best avoided for the true chocolate fanatic in your life.
But for a very reasonable £3 price tag, it is a fun alternative with a zesty, refreshing taste for those without too much of a sweet tooth.
This sizable milk chocolate egg is flecked with almond shavings and has a subtle salty tang which balances out the sweetness well.
It comes complete with a pouch of four deliciously gooey, gold dust covered salted caramel truffles.
This smiley little guy is, as the packaging suggests, almost too cute to eat. He may not look it, but Sam, though small, is surprisingly substantial.
A pleasingly chunky white chocolate shell, with milk and coloured chocolate decoration.
The packaging of this red marbled egg promises a “sweet, sharp and fruity” pomegranate flavour.
Unfortunately it is an over promise - the egg fails to capture the pomegranate essence, and truth be told is probably closer in taste to the pith than it is to the juicy seeds.
This white chocolate and fruity Easter Egg is a great alternative for those who aren’t that keen on just regular old milk chocolate.
The strawberry and meringue pieces embedded in the white chocolate egg bring together all the flavours you would expect from an Eton Mess.
The fruit and nut offering was definitely the surprise stand out from the eggs from Aldi - the chocolate is delicious and the fruit and nut mixture is well incorporated throughout the egg, meaning every bite is guaranteed to have a bit of everything.
While some, especially kids, might think they don’t like fruit and nut chocolate all that much, this Easter Egg from Aldi is bound to convert even the most sceptical.
The Milk Chocolate Lovers’ Duo egg is made of two halves of a whole egg - on one side we have 41% Ghanaian milk chocolate paired opposite a Belgian milk chocolate half with crunchy caramel pieces and a sprinkle of sea salt.
However, despite being marketed specifically for milk chocolate lovers, this egg proved to be a let down. The chocolate on either side didn’t taste very high quality, regardless of its premium looking packaging.
This might just be the thickest Easter egg we have ever come across.
This chunky chocolatey delight from Asda is bursting with raspberry flavour and filled with a very generous helping of marshmallow.
It might not be the most traditional Easter egg on the supermarket shelf but this scrumptious Belgian white chocolate serving from Asda oozes luxury at a very reasonable price – just don’t try and roll it down a hill.
Another extra special helping from Asda that definitely won’t disappoint.
Filled with almonds, honeycomb and pretzel pieces that bring a pop to every bite, this mouthwatering milk chocolate egg is incredibly moreish and very generous in size.
The design isn’t the most exciting so maybe not one for the kids but you certainly won’t want to give this one away anyway.
This Vegan Society approved egg selection from Asda is free from gluten, eggs and milk and sadly also free from any Easter fun too.
The trio of eggs come in three different flavours (Anglesey sea salt and sweet honey, white chocolate with Costa Rican coffee and Seville orange Belgian dark chocolate) which are OK in taste but for vegan chocoholics nothing really stands out.
Despite the name it doesn’t taste or look very special at all either and unlikely to satisfy an Easter sweet tooth.
Every giant egg you purchase from James’ Cadbury (yes, from those Cadburys) results in the company planting one tree in the fight against deforestation, a fact we find makes us feel warm and fuzzy.
This is luscious, creamy milk chocolate - and a sizable egg - but we quibble a little at the price tag, which is hefty. Still, if you consider it a donation to the planet, it may go down a little easier (as will the artfully salty truffles that go with).
The packaging for this vegan, oat milk based egg is LOUD - perhaps obnoxiously so - but plastic-free, so it is admirably recyclable.
We were delighted by the texture of the chocolate - creamier and more delicious than any other vegan varietals we tried, indeed, it’s indistinguishable from trad milk chocolate.
The caramel and sea salt is well balanced. A great choice for vegans, especially if they want to get away from the ubiquitous dark chocolate options.
With respect and apologies to Walter, the chocolate sausage dog, we found his chocolate to taste a little waxy and unappealing - not a luxurious experience.
But to be fair that’s not why he’s flying off the shelves. Just look at him. What a cutie. Want a sausage dog shaped Easter Egg? This will meet your needs.