Easter means that the stores are full of chocolate and candies, but for L.A.'s 200,000 plus Brits it's a time of agonizing choices and wistful remembrances.
Whether it is too much or too little sugar/milk/high fructose corn syrup or just because it wasn't made in a mock-Tudor English countryside factory (and instead on license by Hershey's), Brits have never warmed to American-made chocolate – and the feeling is often mutual.
There are taste crossovers (100 Grand tastes Toffee Crisp/Picnic; Mounds tastes like Bounty and Whoppers taste like Maltesers), but it can be confusing too: 3 Musketeers tastes a lot like the U.K. Milky Way, though the U.S. Milky Way tastes like a U.K. Mars – which is not the same as the U.S. Mars. Confused yet?
In Blighty, Easter is a stomach-distending smorgasbord of hollow chocolate eggs, all of them seemingly as big as a rugby ball, filled with treats, and wrapped in elaborate, large and environmentally-unsound boxes.
Here in America? Welcome to the wonderful world of Peeps.]
These bizarre, brightly-colored marshmallow treats are everywhere, and come in the shape of ducks and rabbits for Easter (and are on shelves for other holidays too). Despite few people actually confessing to liking the taste, they're a pseudo-phenomenon – but over time it seems that some Brit favorites have shimmied their way into the American Easter basket.
Brits may despair that there are still no big choccy eggs to make yourself sick on, but it does seem that British titan Cadbury's and their Mini Eggs – regular and (the currently super-hip) “Royal Dark” chocolate flavor – are front and center in many stores, as are Creme Eggs, chocolate-covered delivery systems for a white liquid sugar filling. The filling looks like a yolk, though of course at this time of year it's okay to eat rabbits, rabbit ears, ducks, birds, frogs and butterflies – as long as “Easter” is involved.
There's a sort of U.S. equivalent to Creme Eggs made by Russell Stover, but they're half the size, and this isn't a time to skimp on the energy-giving sugar calories.
Overall then, it seems that many of the big U.S. brand names only half-heartedly embrace the chocolate orgy: making a Twix or Reese's shaped like an egg or a small rabbit is apparently enough, and as for Easter jelly beans? The ultimate in laziness. There are some innovations, though. Sour-tasting Easter candy is something you don't get in the U.K., nor would you see chocolate crucifixes or “inspiration” eggs: plastic ovals with Jesus' cartoon image on the outside (“He is risen!”) and a bag of crunchy crosses inside.
Granted the chocolate yellow duck that wouldn't last five minutes in the bath looks cute, as do some of the countless cartoonish/anthropomorphized choc bunnies, but for Brits the ideal accompaniment to their Creme Eggs is Terry's Chocolate Orange.
Available at import/niche stores and Cost Plus World Market, it's a ball of chocolate that you smack hard on the top until it splits into segments, like the fruit, and is so popular in the U.K. that it's an Easter and Christmas essential – a sort of equivalent to Peeps – and is very much a guilty pleasure for adults who have pretended to leave such childish things behind them.
Peep-lovers might point out that losing the chocolate war isn't such a bad thing. A century ago, a dentist showman and pioneer named “Painless Parker” pounded the streets of downtown L.A. and pulled teeth in front of large crowds – often with musical or a circus accompaniment – though while dental health has improved, obesity has become the big U.S. problem.
The cliché that Brits have desperately rotten teeth isn't borne out by the statistics at all, but perhaps the real differences that Angeleno Brits see at Easter can be explained by the fact that their sweet-toothed expats eat around 10kg of choc per year, per person – more than twice what Americans put away. That said, high-sugar desserts like cookies, brownies and cupcakes are the go-to snack in America, whereas a Brit tends to reach for a bar when wanting a boost.
Just last week, another Easter story with a British tone hit the news when a butcher in Liverpool, England, created a chocolate scotch egg. A popular treat in the U.K., scotch eggs are boiled eggs encased in sausage meet and deep-fried with breadcrumbs on the outside – something that is a love/hate thing to start with. This went one better though, substituting the sugary creme egg inside instead, and causing gags and lip-smacking in equal amounts.
But then perhaps none of it really matters anyway: Today the much-loved Terry's and Cadbury's brands are owned by Mondel?z International, Inc., a spin-off of American giant Kraft Foods.