On Easter morning in 1987, I bounded out of bed and dashed to my Easter basket. I had long since stopped believing in the Easter Bunny, but that didn’t stop my parents from holding on to the dream. As I eagerly looked at the colorful eggs and candy in my basket, my eyes fell upon the greatest Easter basket find ever: a cassette tape of the Beastie Boys’ new album, “Licensed to Ill.” I spent the morning fighting for my right to party as I stuffed jelly beans and peanut butter cups into my mouth like it was my job.
It was the best Easter basket I have ever received.
(Well, except for the wine basket my husband gave me after the Lent I gave up wine. That one didn’t suck, either, come to think of it.)
My point is that Easter baskets were simple back in the 1970s and ’80s. A little fake grass, some hard jelly beans, and maybe a chocolate bunny thrown in for tradition’s sake, and we were hoppy (pun intended). But, little did we know, Easter would become the Christmas of spring, and our candy palates would become discerning. And while we are all guilty of going overboard on treats and presents in Easter baskets, I think we can all admit that there are some Easter candies that have stood the test of time. And there a few that we’d like to send back with the Easter bunny.
1. Peanut Butter Eggs
Peanut butter eggs have been a staple in Easter baskets since I was kid. Thankfully, like wine, these have improved over time.
Then: Peanut butter eggs made by companies like Asher’s. Generic and sad, we had no idea what we were missing when we ate these imposters filled with fake peanut butter.
Now: Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs. OMG, please don’t ever leave us, Reese’s.
2. Mini Sugar Egg Panoramas
Then: Sugar eggs made from a metric shit ton of sugar with a tiny duck or a chick inside. Often heavily decorated with brightly colored hard icing, these eggs served absolutely no purpose. Designed to survive a nuclear war, these eggs sat, untouched, in your basket for weeks — until your mother threw them out in a fit of post-holiday rage cleaning.
Now: These monstrosities are still showing up in Easter baskets. Seriously, I can’t be the only one who doesn’t understand why these sugared eggs have stood the test of time.
3. Cadbury Creme Eggs
Then: Cadbury Eggs made the phrase “No bunny knows Easter like Cadbury” famous with their commercials showing live bunnies auditioning to work for Cadbury. You are either Team Cadbury or Team No Creme in My Chocolate based on those commercials.
Now: Stressed-out moms can be still found buying them by the armload in Walmarts across the country on the night before Easter. And they are still gross AF. #SorryNotSorry
4. Pez Dispensers
Then: Pez dispensers were the best thing on earth. Candy on the go! With a fun character to spit out a little piece of sugary delight! And they were refillable! It was like an ATM machine but with candy!
Now: We still love Pez dispensers. And Easter baskets just wouldn’t be the same without a creepy lamb’s face dispensing rock-hard sugar squares one piece at a time.
5. Black Jelly Beans.
Then: Black jelly beans belonged in hell.
Now: Black jelly beans still belong in hell.
6. Chocolate Easter Bunnies
Then: You’d die a little inside if you woke up Easter morning and didn’t see a big chocolate bunny nestled in that fake green grass.
Now: You still hope for that chocolate bunny, but now you die a little inside when you see your toddler’s germy mouth taking a giant bite out of the ears.
7. Malted Easter Eggs
Then: Brightly colored, malted eggs that had a satisfying crunch. You delighted in sucking out the malted flavoring and saving the shells for last.
Now: You eat these brightly colored malted eggs in your closet as your kids bang on the door demanding that you wipe their asses.
8. Peeps Marshmallow Chicks
Then: Peeps were but a twinkle in our eye.
Now: You are either on Team Must. Eat. All. The. Peeps. (even the weird blue colored ones, but not in Oreos. Never in Oreos) or you are on Team Get a Toothache Just Looking at That Garbage.
9. Easter-Themed Candy Corn
Then: Didn’t exist.
Now: Go home candy corn, you’re drunk.
10. Jelly Beans
Then: We had one brand of jelly beans: Brach’s. They were colorful, yet they had the flavor of Easter sadness.
Now: Jelly beans have come a long way, baby. Nowadays, there’s a jelly bean for every palate. From sour to sweet to savory and everything in between, jelly beans are the full-service Easter candy. What a time to be alive, really.
11. Foil-Wrapped Chocolate Eggs
Then: The Easter Bunny would hide brightly colored, foil-wrapped chocolate eggs all around the house. You’d fight your siblings to the death in hopes of declaring egg-hunt victory.
Now: The Easter Bunny still hides the eggs — only you forget how many you’ve actually hidden. You find these little surprises all over the house for months afterward and high-five yourself for the Easter gift that keeps on giving.
When I think about Easter 1987, the thought of my Irish Catholic mom buying the Beastie Boys cassette for my basket makes me giggle. But the joke is on me, really, because I now know that being the Easter Bunny means getting your hands on all of the candy before the kids do. So if you’ll excuse me, I have to break into the bags of peanut butter cups and jelly beans that I have stashed for emergencies. Also, I need to download some Beastie Boys music…