Rewind to 200 years ago and the only eggs you would find being passed around at Easter were real ones (albeit beautifully decorated). It wasn’t until the early 19th century that confectioners hatched a clever plan to create an alternative sweet version.
French and German chocolatiers are credited with inventing the chocolate egg, although they were very dark and bitter when first produced. Chocolate was so expensive at the time, that eggs were exclusively enjoyed by the wealthy. The Easter eggs that were available were also completely solid, as manufacturers hadn’t yet found a way to easily mold chocolate.
In 1828, the Dutch inventor Van Houten invented a press that could efficiently separate the cocoa butter needed to make smoother, moldable chocolate from the cocoa bean. Then, in 1866, the Cadbury brothers introduced a method for producing cocoa butter in large quantities. Now chocolate eggs could easily be mass produced and the eggs could be made hollow, ready to be filled with sugared almonds or sweets.
The sale of chocolate at Easter was truly secured as an Easter tradition when Cadbury
introduced milk chocolate eggs in 1905, which proved to be hugely popular. Nowadays, around 80 million eggs are sold each Easter in the UK alone.
Simpler eggs, such as the ones you are likely to find in supermarkets wrapped in brightly colored foil or paper, normally have a straightforward crocodile print exterior, a technique pioneered by a German chocolatier to disguise imperfections. However, if you walk into a fancy chocolate shop over Easter you’ll likely see an ornately embellished creation, patterned with chocolate piping and marzipan.