Easter in Philadelphia – Zitner Butter Krak Eggs – Need I Say More?

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.

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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.

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Remember Easter Baskets?

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:

  • Books
  • DVDs
  • 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!

 

Hop – A Sarcastic Mom’s Movie Review

Growing up during the dawn of time, as I did, I recall how incredibly excited I used to get over holiday specials.  Christmas, of course, was the bonanza season of holiday specials, but Easter had a couple.  We’d sit, with my Dad, and get all into Peter Cottontail; but of course, the all time favorite Easter special was the religiously significant “It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!”

Yeah, Easter movies and television geared towards children are about as religious in nature as “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”.  It’s always been that way.  Kids don’t really want to sit for an hour or more and watch the crucifixion of a significant historical figure over differences in religion and a struggle for power.  I may be wrong, but it just doesn’t scream “warm and fuzzy” – like an Easter bunny.  And besides, doesn’t Veggie Tales cover that somewhere?

So that was kind of a long way to tell you that I was not disappointed that Hop wasn’t loaded with religious significance.  I didn’t expect it to have any, unlike some other reviews I’ve seen.  But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a bit disappointing.

Here’s the story – the Easter Bunny is getting on in years, and he’d like to pass the responsibility of world (well, except for China) sugar high induction on to his come of age son EB.  EB, however, has decided that he is destined more for a life of rock stardom, and he sets off to realize his dreams where young, rebellious, determined to make their own way in the world rabbits all go – Ireland – Hollywood.

Coincidentally, a young man(Fred) living in the neighborhood already finds himself the victim of an Intervention, as his family makes the determination that he is not rebellious or determined enough, and they want his arse out the door, on his own, and not mooching off of Daddy’s dime.  This poor, now homeless young man is forced to stay in a multi-bazillion dollar mansion as a house sitter for his sister’s boss.  Yeah, he learned his lesson.

The two wayward young adults meet each other accidentally, and hilarity ensues.  Well, okay, it doesn’t; but there is some humor – twice, I heard a line uttered by the amazingly talented Russell Brand that made me laugh out loud (I think his comedic timing is impeccable).

My girls loved the movie, but it fell a bit flat for me.  It seemed a little bit rushed to come to the conclusion, and in the end, I’m not sure real dreams were fulfilled – except for Fred’s father, and honestly, for a man who wanted his son to find “steady” employment, I’m not sure how he ends up so freakin’ deliriously happy about Fred’s new very part time gig.

I don’t think the characters were very well developed, and the sub-plot of the evil villain Carlos (who obviously  has not seen the You Tube videos of what happens to Peeps put in the Microwave – that might have helped keep him in his place) wasn’t very well thought out at all.  There was no real affection for Fred or EB, so honestly, if they had both ended up homeless on Hollywood Boulevard, selling fake Godiva chocolate bunnies, I’m not sure the end of the movie emotions would have been any different.  Instead of a weepy, happy, awwwww feeling, it was more of a “so that’s what happens to them – let’s go get sushi.”

I will say though that Russell Brand is the highlight – his lines are hysterical in a couple of spots, funny in others, and the big bonus here is that as much as I love Russell Brand, he’s damn scary to look at.  I’m glad I got the opportunity to enjoy his movie without actually having to watch him.  I won’t be so lucky when I go next week to see “Arthur”.

For kids – I’d give the movie a thumbs up.  Seriously, who’s making Easter specials anymore?

For grown-ups – Don’t expect the big laughs you found in Despicable Me.  If you didn’t have to take the kids, I’d tell you to go see something else, but what the hell – it’s Easter time, the kids will be excited to see the movie, you’ll be the hero Dad or Mom for taking them, and if you’re lucky, they’ll leave you alone the whole rest of the evening so you can tend to your virtual farm in Farmville as a reward.  Sounds like a win-win to me.