Who Put the Peanut Butter in the Easter Egg?
Peanut butter is always delicious. (Yes, we know we are biased, but it is!) And it’s particularly tempting when married with chocolate. Who can resist? (Not us.) That’s what communities across Pennsylvania were hoping for when, in the mid-to-late twentieth century, local parishioners began making and selling creamy peanut-buttery eggs dipped in chocolate for the Easter season to boost dwindling church attendance and revenues.
“It’s kind of a regional thing,” said Lee Zimmerman, owner of Zimmerman’s Nuts and Candies in Penbrook, Pennsylvania who has, for decades, supplied groups with peanut butter and other ingredients, from coconut and flavorings to chocolate and wrappers, for egg making. “It’s the Pennsylvania Dutch thing.”
While the tradition certainly originated in the Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish communities, it quickly grew in popularity and spread to find churches and non-profit groups in the South, becoming ubiquitous at church suppers.
These days, legions of volunteers invest hundreds of hours mixing, dipping and wrapping the eggs, cranking out hundreds of thousands of the homemade peanut butter eggs all in the name of fundraising. Egg sales (they usually go for a buck each) have become so successful, they have literally built churches across all denominations—Catholics, Lutherans, and Methodists.
Chocolate eggs appeared in France and Germany in the 19th Century, but because chocolate making techniques were not great, they were bitter and hard. As chocolate-making techniques improved, hollow eggs like the ones we have today were developed.
“Southern peanut butter eggs have a history of being a popular church ladies guild activity around the Easter holiday,” said Linda Pelaccio, a culinary historian and the Podcast Host/Producer of A Taste of the Past. “Chocolate egg confections have been around in Europe since the mid 1800's. So combine that with the popularization of peanut butter in America in the early 1900's, and it sounds like a delicious combination.”
If you don’t feel like going through the hassle of making your own peanut butter chocolate Easter Eggs, but are craving that decadent chocolate and peanut butter combination, get yourself a spoon and a jar of our Dark Chocolatey Dreams!