The History and Future of the Easter Egg
The Easter Egg started its humble beginnings way back in the early 1600’s, in the form of a rather delicate hardboiled Hen’s egg, decorated in vegetable dyes and charcoal to create pretty patterned gifts for children. Fast forward two centuries and the first ever chocolate egg was produced, bringing what we now know as the iconic celebratory Easter egg to life. In today’s consumer society, it comes as no surprise that the appeal for chocolate Easter gifts is only increasing, with a staggering 80 million chocolate gifts being sold annually in the UK.
In anticipation for the celebrations in the coming weeks, artisan food marketplace Yumbles explores the history of the Easter Egg, and predict the future of the celebratory gift.
The History of the Easter Egg
Whilst Easter eggs, and chocolate, have both become synonymous with this celebratory time of year between Winter and Spring, the origin of the Easter egg goes back thousands of years. In many cultures, exchanging Easter eggs has long been a custom, as a symbol of rebirth. The consumer journey however, started only a few hundred years ago.
Eggs were hardboiled and then painted using charcoal and vegetable dyes to become colourful and decorative, before being handed out to children as celebratory gifts.
Egg shaped toys for children were manufactured and sold for the first time. They were initially made from a form of cardboard, before being covered in plush satin. Inside the toy would be filled with sweets, chocolates and sometimes miniature toys.
In 1873 J.S Fry & Sons of England introduced the first ever chocolate egg within the UK. The Bristol based company used a patented technique to grind cocoa beans using a steam engine, and as a result, the first egg shaped chocolate for Easter was created.
The first filled egg was introduced by none other than the Cadbury brothers in 1923, resulting in a whole new and previously untapped offering within the Easter market. This started a real demand for filled eggs, and in Cadbury’s Crème Egg as we now know it wasn’t introduced to the market until 1963.
The rise in alternative Easter gifts begins to emerge, with everything from novelty, non-egg-shaped gifts to those free from sugar, gluten and dairy, and those suitable for vegans.
The Future of the Easter Egg
In a time where catering for as many people as possible is so important, the 21st century has seen the Easter gift landscape change even further, with manufacturers and retailers taking it upon themselves to create Easter products that are appropriate for those with special dietary requirements. With a notable rise in the offerings of alternative Easter Eggs, dairy, gluten and sugar free options, as well as eggs suitable for vegan and vegetarians can now be seen throughout the Easter market. The demand for this extension of the celebratory range is great, with curated marketplace and independent food and drink supporters Yumbles seeing a huge 264% increase throughout 2018 in the consumption of alternative Easter products.
Simos Kitiris, founder of Yumbles says, “When you think about how far Easter gifts have come, we’re absolutely delighted with the progression of the offering. Our sellers know exactly what the consumer wants, and it isn’t all about the typical chocolate egg anymore. Last year over 45% of our Easter range was Dairy Free and / or Vegan and 50% of items ordered were alternative Easter products”.
This begs the question, with an ever-evolving market and a constant demand for more innovation, what is the future of the Easter Egg? Thanks to their broad understanding of the market, and visibility of the ever-changing landscape, Yumbles predict what they believe will be the future offering of the Easter Egg:
Similar to food trends in general – it’s expected that the market will continue to see more credible healthy alternatives, with a real emphasis on chocolate gifts that are refined- sugar free.
With recent surveys suggesting upwards of 51% of UK consumers prefer to do their shopping online, the delicacy of a hollow the demand for a more easily transportable and deliverable Easter egg is great. Whilst traditional eggs are still popular, flatter options are becoming more readily available in order to supply the demand for letter-box posting. Not only will this reduce shipping costs, but it could also reduce the amount of plastic waste caused from extra packaging.
Innovation of shapes and styles
Novelty is a huge sector of the market at current and is expected to evolve even more as the demand for unique products rises. Recent years have shown Easter eggs in the shapes of products huge within popular culture at the time, for example 2018 saw the first Avocado shaped egg, and this year unicorn eggs are expected to hit the market. The evolution of eggs may well follow the trend of what’s popular at that current time, in order to tap into demand and catch the attention of the consumer.
With so many products available for personalisation, and with a real demand for this in 2019, personalisation of the humble Easter egg could go beyond the traditional egg adorned with an iced name. Research into photograph adorned Easter eggs is well underway and could be the next big thing.
With the evolution of Easter gifts setting a high precedent, and with the marketplace striving to out-do itself each and every year, it’s clear that although the traditional Easter Egg may well be here for the long-haul, the expansion of alternative offerings s set to grow even further.