What’s in your Easter candy?

Easter. Possibly the prettiest holiday in the Wal Mart seasonal isle, full of sweets and sours and everything in between.

We (America) spent $1.9 billion on candy last year, less than $1 million than what we spent on Halloween the same year and $600 million more than we spent on Christmas candy. We bought 90 million chocolate bunnies, 700 million Marshmellow Peeps (interesting tidbit: in 1953 it took 27 hours to create 1 peep, today it takes 6 minutes) and 16 billion jellybeans (enough to circle the world three times).

That’s a lot of candy.

So what’s in all that…. stuff?

Let’s start with Peeps. They’re marshmellows. What exactly is a marshmellow? Pretty much just sugar, corn syrip, water and gelatin softened in hot water, dextrose, vanilla and whichever color peep you are buying. They’re also industructable. But, hey, at least they’re real sugar.

Jelly beans are also “mostly” made of sugar. There’s also some beeswax, salt, confectioner’s glaze and lecithin. Lecithin? Wanna know what that is? You probably don’t. It’s a group of yellow-brownish fatty substances occuring in animal tissues and egg yolk. It’s also found in blood, bile, brain tissue, fish eggs, fish roe, chicken and sheep brain. Yummm. So next time you eat a jelly bean, keep in mind it could come from any one of those and they don’t have to tell you which one.

Onto the chocolate. Most of us know what’s in chocolate: cocoa, cocoa butter, sugar, milk, vanilla, soy lecithin (that little bugger just keeps popping up!), etc. Let’s talk less about what’s in the chocolate bar and more about where it comes from.
Some basic facts:
Cocoa is a fruit, the seeds of which make the candy you eat
It grows mostly in South America (Venezuela, Ecuador) and Western Africa (Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon), but used to grow throughout the Amazon
Production increased 131 percent in the last 30 years
More than 110,000 child slaves pick these fruit on the Ivory Coast.

Yep. You read that last one right. Children, as soon as they’re able to walk until they’re too independent to be slaves, pick these fruit 16 hours a day as slaves.  Somewhere in the third world, a forest was destroyed to make way for the cocoa fruit, which was picked by a child slave, shipped across the ocean, processed with these animal parts, molded into a bar, packaged and sent to Wal Mart as a bunny.

Never look at that Easter candy isle the same.

-30-

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