It’s no secret that chocolate bunnies are hallmark candies of the Easter season. But how are these confectionary creations made? And why bunnies in the first place? In this month’s blog, we take a hop on down the chocolate bunny trail, from centuries ago up until today.
Origins of the chocolate bunny
Since ancient times, rabbits have been regarded as a symbol of fertility and new birth. The concept of an Easter bunny was first brought to America with the migration of the Germans in the 18th century. When the group settled down in Pennsylvania, they introduced the legend of the Osterhare, a mythical rabbit known for its egg-laying. Each year, the children of these immigrants would craft special nests for the Osterhare to lay eggs in and leave him carrots for his troubles.
With time, the tradition spread to the rest of the country. As the Osterhare myth evolved, so did the finer details of what the bunny would leave behind. This led to the Easter tradition we know of today — magical mornings of candy galore! And what better way to honor the bunny who delivers these treats than to create chocolate in his hoppy image?
The chocolate bunny itself is believed to have originally been created by someone of German heritage, as this is where the Easter legend was born. Chocolate molds originating from the 19th century have been discovered in Munich, the largest city in Bavaria.
But it was Robert L. Strohecker, a drug store owner from Pennsylvania, who really started the chocolate bunny craze in the late 19th century. To promote his shop, he put together a 5-foot-tall bunny made of milk chocolate. Since then, the chocolate Easter bunny has gone on to become an essential springtime delight all around the world!
How chocolate bunnies are made
The revolutionary concept behind chocolate production lines — especially for chocolate molds — first took off in Switzerland. By the 1870s, powdered milk developed by Henri Nestlé led to the creation of the first commercial milk chocolate bars.
In 1879, Rodolphe Lindt invented a conching machine, which distributes texture, taste, and aroma to the chocolate. The sweet confection was then able to be mass produced on lines. Here in the US, Milton Hershey launched the assembly-line production for molded chocolate after converting farmland into a successful factory town.
As chocolate bunnies rose in popularity, so did the efficient production of its varieties —from the solid bunny to the popular hollow mold.
Solid chocolate bunnies
Solid chocolate bunnies begin with melted chocolate. When the confection is suitably melted and hot, the mixture is poured into a mold shaped like a bunny. Throughout this process, air pockets are pushed out of the chocolate. As the treat cools, it will be removed from the mold, retaining its adorable shape.
The next step is to trim the excess chocolate that is leftover from the mold, adding further detail to the chocolate bunny. For the final touches, extra candy details may be added, such as eyes, eggs, or paws to enhance the appearance.
Hollow chocolate bunnies
Hollow bunnies, on the other hand, require a slightly different preparation. Here, melted chocolate is once again poured into a rabbit-shaped mold. The mold is then shaken and turned repeatedly, getting rid of air bubbles in the mixture. As the chocolate spins around, it will eventually form a thin, even coating.
Once the chocolate mix is cool enough to safely handle, it comes out of the mold in a perfect bunny shape, complete with a hollow interior.
Tips for enjoying chocolate bunnies
Now that you’ve learned more about the amazing true story of chocolate Easter bunnies, the next step is knowing the best way to enjoy them! If, for instance, you’ve got a solid bunny on your hands (especially a large one), it is important to carefully section off pieces with a knife and cutting board. Because the chocolate is completely solid, it is often too thick to bite directly into it.
If you ever need to store some leftover Easter bunnies, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Avoid refrigeration, as chocolate is known to draw in other smells from your refrigerator. Extra moisture in your storage also has the potential to discolor your chocolate.
- Generally aim for a dry, cool location. If possible, store at a temperature below 70 degrees Fahrenheit to keep the candy fresh longer.
- Use air-tight containers for better flavor. Otherwise, the oxygen in the air will oxidize the chocolate and alter its taste.
- Try to position your bunnies away from light. Both natural and artificial light sources have a negative effect on chocolate flavor.
If you store your bunnies the right way, you can safely keep solid milk chocolates for up to an entire year. Dark chocolate will even keep for up to two years! Or, if you’re more of a filled chocolate fan, these can be saved for about three to four months.
Stefanelli's chocolate bunnies
If you’ve got a chocolate bunny craving, Stefanelli’s is here to help! We offer a truly delicious assortment of bunnies, including both hollow and solid chocolates. Molded by hand, each bunny is crafted with detail and the rich, decadent taste that’s brought happiness to customers since 1929.
We also offer other delectable bunny varieties, such as peanut butter filled and individually wrapped mini bunnies. No matter what you choose, our chocolates are sure to bring you and your loved ones much joy this Easter season!
Shop Easter candy!!
Easter is the biggest candy holiday of the year, so get prepared with all of your favorites here at Stefanelli’s!