There were so many things I missed about being “home” when we lived in Florida. Clearly, I missed my parents and my sisters. I missed things like the Philadelphia Zoo and the Mummers Parade. But Philly foods are hard to replicate, no matter how hard people in other regions try.
When we first came back to live in South Jersey 13 years ago, I enjoyed many of my Philly food favorites. I sampled hoagies from all our old stomping grounds, and we grabbed cheesesteaks from Pat’s and Geno’s – just to be on the safe side of the “best” cheesesteak in the city. I ate more TastyKakes than I care to admit, and even managed to keep a stash of Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews handy.
But then comes Easter. And for a few short weeks every year, a Philly area staple starts popping up. Zitner’s Fine Confections has been pumping out delicious chocolate covered Easter eggs since Sam and Annie Zitner first began selling them out of their home in 1920. There is a lot to be said for all of the Zitner’s eggs – the butter cream are among my favorite anywhere, and the peanut butter soar past Reeses peanut butter eggs. But there’s a soft spot in my heart for the Butter Krak.
These dark chocolate covered eggs are buttery and sweet, and instead of the choppy little pieces of coconut you find in a lot of coconut cream eggs, the Butter Krak eggs have longer pieces of coconut, that give you a real punch of coconut when you bite in. When I was a kid, the eggs were always kind of odd looking – almost fuzzy looking – because of the long strands of coconut poking through the chocolate, but through the years, I think we lost some of that due to the use of more contemporary machines. I miss that texture, but the taste is still there – creamy, coconutty, and delicious.
I look forward to Easter every year – the ham and potato salad, the egg dying with my kids, making the Easter baskets (ummm, I mean suggesting to the Easter bunny how to fill the baskets) – but Zitner’s has shouted “It’s Easter” in our house since I was a little girl. I’m so happy for those nostalgic moments I can share with my girls.
We were some damn lucky kids. Not only did my mom go to some of the best candy stores in Philadelphia to get us delicious homemade chocolate bunnies and marshmallow chicks, she and my Grandmom Fee would put together the Easter baskets. Grandmom Fee was the poor man’s version of Martha Stewart – she could recycle anything and craft it into something amazing. Our Easter baskets were festooned with ribbons, cotton ball chicks, bows, bunnies, and elaborate Easter decorations. People from all over the neighborhood would come to see the amazing baskets, and drool over the mountains of candy my mom piled inside – with the centerpiece being a coconut cream egg with our names on them.
But that was when candy was still okay to give to children.
When I had children, candy became an outlaw. Never would something sweetened with corn syrup and loaded with artificial colors and flavors cross the lips of my precious children. It would be only organic produce, healthy foods, and definitely nothing that tastes better rock hard and stale than soft and sugar covered for my girls.
But you know what that did? That took a $20 or $30 per kid Easter basket – with GOOD candy – to an Easter basket that almost contains the same dollar amount of goodies that Santa brings on Christmas.
Included in our Easter baskets in order to spare our children a lifetime of dental woes and diabetes:
- spring clothes
- Easter pajamas (any pajamas with bunnies/chicks/or, in lieu of bunnies and chicks, monkeys)
- craft kits
- outdoor toys for spring and summer
- sidewalk chalk
- and when they are Brighid’s age, and too old for sidewalk chalk and craft kits, gift certificates to buy something so she won’t feel bad when the other kids have more in their baskets than she does
What the hell?
God bless Jamie Oliver and his Food Revolution. I love him, and I completely support him in his efforts to make our children healthy and our population less obese. But it’s nearly to the point that I need to take a loan out to fill the Easter baskets!
It’s once a year, and I don’t think a few jelly beans are going to harm my children. Honestly. And while I want them to know the lesson of the real meaning of Easter, I want them to also know the joy of an Easter egg hunt, where the eggs are filled with sweet treats that don’t break the bank, as opposed to slips of paper promising trips to the movies or the zoo during Easter break.
Save me. Tell me what you put in your kids’ baskets that keeps you from bankruptcy – both financially and nutritionally!