Schneider’s personalized opera cream eggs, made at their candy store in Bellevue, Kentucky.
As folks in the candy biz know, Easter is the largest sales holiday of the year. To many people’s surprise it tops even Christmas and Halloween. Chocolate bunnies and eggs of all sorts, jelly beans, marshmallow peeps, and other confections fill Easter baskets. And, to hop up above the rest, our Cincinnati Candy companies have come up with some great new unique Easter candies.
Vintage chocolate molds from Doscher’s.
Of course the Cincinnati candy most associated with Easter is our opera cream, invented by the Maysville, Kentucky-turned Fort Thomas native, Robert Hiner Putman in 1900. It became so popular by 1920 that every candy company in Cincinnati had their own opera cream, and today that is still the case. Papas Opera Cream eggs are probably the most visible in the retail market, but my favorites are those made by the Schneider family, either at Schneider’s in Bellevue, or their other family operation, Sweet Tooth in Newport, Kentucky. Today the unicorn of Easter opera creams are the white chocolate opera cream crosses made by Papas, at their factory in the hillside Lewisburg neighborhood of Covington, Kentucky, catering to the young First Communicants.
New this year from Fawn Candy company of Cheviot and Rookwood is what they call Bunny Trail Munch. It is a calliope of popped caramel corn, drizzled in white chocolate and topped with Pectin Jelly Beans, Bunny Candy Corn, Sixlets and Chocolate Covered Gummi Bears. It’s an explosion of color and looks like an explosion of flavor too. Fawn has a variety of sugar free chocolate options too. No one has come up with a sugar free jelly bean to my knowledge, which would be great for those of us watching our glycemic levels.
Fawn’s new Bunny Trail Munch
The cutest chocolate bunnies in the world are the Zombie Bunnies made by Chocolates Latour in Northside. Who can imagine a cute hoppy, floppy-eared Easter bunny, dripping in blood munching into your head to eat out your brains? Well owner Shalini Latour can. I mean it makes sense, the whole idea behind Easter – violent death by crucifixion and then rising from the dead – relates.
Latour’s army of Zombie Bunnies.
Maverick Chocolates is the only game in town that makes a Bean-to-Bunny chocolate Easter bunny. That means the ethically sourced (non African child slave labor harvested like all of the big retail chocolatiers) beans are roasted and the cacao processed into a lovely high % cacao chocolate. They’ve also got a unique lemon white chocolate bunny that sounds amazing.
There are the bird nests made by Graeter’s, (yes they make candy too, not just ice cream) and in a variety of forms by home bakers, that are chocolate covered coconut, filled with jelly beans or hummingbird eggs. To me, the butterscotch topped Chinese noodle version of the bird’s nest, made by many home bakers could be marketed as the Crown of Thorns and take on a whole new category. But maybe that’s too macabre for the children.
Graeter’s birds nest in center – Chinese noodle version to the left, and marshmallow cereal version with malted milk eggs to the right.
And of course, we can’t forget the handmade chocolates of Aglamesis made on site above their ice cream parlor in Oakley. They call themselves your “One Hop Stop” to build an Easter basket. Aglamesis are also the last remnant in Cincinnati of what was once a market of hundreds of Greeks from Sparta who owned retail candy stores all over Greater Cincinnati. It’s these families that started our tradition of having a chocolate peppermint patty after eating a Cincinnati chili threeway. Stop into Aglamesis and get a chocolate mint and taste what the original would have tasted like before all the chili parlors bought Andes mints or Peppermint Patties, which are not made in Cincinnati.
Many don’t know that Roscoe Rodda, the man who invented the marshmallow Peep, one of Easter’s most iconic candies, was a candy maker in Cincinnati for Reinhart & Newton, Peter Echert Company, and even a partner with Opera Cream inventor Robert Putman. He probably learned the art of shaped marshmallow candies that spawed the Peep at Peter Echert’s company. And, the original Peep had wings, but when it was automated by the company that bought Rodda out, the wings were clipped off and now the Peep is flightless.
The original hand-piped, winged marshmallow Peep.
Other local candy companies have chocolate dipped the Peep, a variety of flavored Oreo cookies for other unique basket stuffers. The chocolate dipped Peep opens up a whole new genre of candy that can be dipped in coconut a variety of finely chopped nuts as well as sprinkles, nuts, and even Pop Rocks candy.