When it comes to Easter there's one holiday tradition that a lot of people just can't live without -- chocolate.
And the numbers prove it. Confectionery sales for Easter in 2014 were projected to be $2.26 billion according to the National Confectioners Association.
State College is no different from the rest of the world. The custom of giving out chocolate Easter bunnies, chocolate Easter eggs, and just plain chocolate is immensely popular here.
"People will come for our chocolate eggs three months before Easter even gets here," says Steve Morrison, manager of Gardners Candies, located at 1613 N. Atherton St.
Gardners is a staple in the Pennsylvania chocolate industry, founded in 1897 by 16-year-old named James Gardner in Tyrone. In the century since, Gardners Candies has attracted lots of chocolate fans who love its peanut butter meltaways.
"We have our eggs which are a big deal every year," Morrison says. "We do one-pound eggs, with the peanut butter meltaway variation being our most popular flavor."
In addition to the massive eggs, Gardners offers smaller 1.25 ounce chocolate eggs. The shop has Easter molds for rabbits, lambs, crosses, and more.
"We do a lot of fun shapes that kids like a lot," Morrison says. "Our Easter season typically starts about five weeks before the holiday and we get things in as early as January."
Gardners isn't the only local confectionary shop selling chocolate, though. Tucked away at 120 Miller Alley is the Sweet Tooth Bakery, which has plenty Easter options of its own.
Sweet Tooth is making peanut butter eggs as well, but on a much smaller scale than the competition. Owned by Cheri Christian since 1993, the Sweet Tooth Bakery isn't as busy as one may expect before Easter.
"It isn't our busiest holiday," Christian says, "but we do sell a lot of our Hungarian nut rolls this week. We can't do as well as Gardners with the peanut butter eggs, because those are kind of their thing."
In addition to the usual chocolate eggs and crosses, Sweet Tooth has a unique cookie option for those celebrating Easter. The shop uses a computer that can paint detailed images onto cookies with food coloring.
If you need more than just some assorted chocolate and baked goods, Irving's has been selling Easter baskets. The Sweets and Treats basket is packed full of jelly beans, chocolate bunnies, peanut butter eggs, and other candy and trinkets. The coffee shop and cafe, located at 110 E. College Ave., also has an Easter basket with brownies, raspberry bars, cookies, and other sweets.
Easter Chocolate Fast Facts:
- Ninety million chocolate Easter bunnies are produced each year according to infoplease.
- Forbes Magazine, citing a survey by the National Retail Federation, says 9 out of 10 consumers who celebrate Easter will stock up on candy during the Easter season and will spend an average of $20.66 on sugary confections.
- CandyUSA.com reports that 81 percent of parents steal candy from their children's Easter stash.