Food & Drink Why the Creme Egg is the most divisive seasonal...

Why the Creme Egg is the most divisive seasonal snack

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As someone who struggles with eggs at the best of times (all it takes is one that’s slightly undercooked to remind you what you’re actually eating), I accept that I’m not the ideal customer.

It’s more than that, though. The cloying and grainy texture of the creme, as it erupts from the cracked top reminds me, just how naff these things are. The ratio always feels completely off: I don’t need all that creme in my egg. And you can guarantee that the very moment you bite into a Creme Egg, its sticky innards dripping down your fingers while the chocolate melts at the merest contact with warm digits, you’ll always be as far from a hand-washing facility as it’s possible to be.

I doubt that children of the future will reflect on today’s Creme Egg zeitgeist in the same way as past generations, given they’re now available as early as January and tend to respawn at Halloween as Screme Eggs. Moreover, what was once a unique offering has now been obscured by its imitators – Oreo, Reese’s and Reece’s all now have their own version.

Thus I question why anyone would be interested in an activity – that for 80p (or more these days) – will leave you sticky, nauseous and yearning for a time you can never return to. Chocolate might be an essential part of seasonal celebrations, but must we set our sights so low?

“There’s no such thing as a superfood, but if there were eggs would be a good candidate,” a nutritionist once told me. Granted, he was talking about hen’s eggs rather than the Creme variety but, in my mind, the point still stands.

I take the point that there’s nothing sophisticated about a Creme Egg. In a world where wannabe gastronomes witter on about provenance, terroir and curated artisanal flavour experiences, the Creme Egg has nothing much to offer. It’s low-quality chocolate stuffed with what is essentially no more than cheap sugary pulp.

On the other hand, isn’t it fun?

'There's nothing wrong with eating food that's fun', writes Rear

Creme Eggs are a joyful bit of whimsy. Look no further than the tiny dab of paprika extract used to simulate the yellow egg yolk. Most chocolatiers would have made the filling pure white. What’s the point of that bit of fake yolk? It doesn’t add to the taste. It is purely there to delight, and remind you of its absurdity. Yes, someone really did sit in a chocolate factory one day and consider how to make a hen’s egg facsimile out of chocolate.

They’re fun to eat, too. That famous “How do you eat yours?” ad campaign was successful because it tapped into our individuality better than a mass-produced product has any right to. Realistically there are, at most, two or three ways to eat a Creme Egg (personally, I’m a scooper) but we were offered a glimpse of a brighter world where food could be consumed in any way we could imagine, and it was beautiful. Heston Blumenthal would build a career from this very concept, but the Creme Egg laid the foundations.

There’s nothing wrong with eating food that’s fun. The foodie establishment would love for us all to wax lyrical about the wonders of kale, acai berries and ancient grains. But will any of those very serious, very worthy things put a smile on your face like a little, occasional, helping of low-quality chocolate and sugar? I think not.


Alternative sweet treats to try

Cadbury White Chocolate Creme Eggs

egg

First launched in New Zealand to coincide with the white chocolate Dream bar, they were discontinued in 2010 when production of New Zealand’s Creme Eggs was moved back to the UK. In 2018, the white Creme Egg was a promotional item, before being made available on shelves properly in 2023.

Oreo Eggs

egg

Originally launched as a Canada-exclusive creme egg variant in 2016, this one features an Oreo fondant filling with crumbled-up pieces of Oreo. It was released in the UK in 2019 and has been on shelves ever since.

Cadbury Caramel Eggs

egg

Originally launched by Cadbury in 1994, this egg eschews the fondant in favour of caramel sauce the likes of which you’d find in a Dairy Milk Caramel. The outer shell is the same as a standard Creme Egg.

Reese’s Peanut Eggs

egg

Similar to a standard Creme Egg but filled instead with peanut butter. They were one of the first competitors to Cadbury’s creme-filled eggs, launching just four years later in 1967. However, they were a broadly American phenomenon until Reese’s began its Transatlantic push in the early 2010s.

Mummy Meagz Chuckie Eggs

egg

Made with sugar and cacao in North Yorkshire by Meagan Boyle, this vegan take on the Creme Egg started to take off in 2020 and is now stocked in Waitrose, Asda and on Amazon.

Tony’s Chocolonely Egg-stra Special Chocolate Eggs

egg

Admittedly closer in size to Mini-Eggs than Creme Eggs, Tony’s Chocolonely has its own “ethical” chocolate eggs which come in almond honey nougat, white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, dark milk chocolate, raspberry popping candy, caramel sea salt, almond sea salt, hazelnut and pretzel toffee flavours.

Daylesford Praline Hen’s Egg

egg

Fine-food purveyors Daylesford have got in on the small egg trend with… a real egg. But this shell has had its yolk and white removed and replaced with chocolate hazelnut praline. Peel the eggshell to enjoy a hard-boiled chocolate praline centre.

A history of Creme Eggs

The Creme Egg’s history is absurdly convoluted. They were originally called ‘Fry’s Creme Eggs’. While Cadbury’s own efforts to create a filled egg had never taken off, the chocolate makers at Fry’s – a former rival to Cadbury’s which merged with the company in 1919 but maintained operational independence – struck gold with the current formulation in 1963.

Fry’s was rewarded for its success by being stripped of that independence four years later and eventually dissolved entirely (the factory where the first Creme Eggs were made was shut down in 2011). By 1971, the eggs were known as Cadbury’s Creme Eggs.

Part of the Creme Egg’s initial success was its 1985 “How do you eat yours?” advertising campaign, inviting the public to share how they enjoyed the confectionery – biting straight through it, scooping or sucking out the innards, even eating it with toast “soldiers”…

The contents of the fondant filling went viral last year after unassuming customers realised it was composed almost entirely of sugar. Originally intended to be filled with real cream, practical issues forced the chocolatiers to use a “creme” made with sugar, glucose syrup, inverted sugar syrup, dried egg white and flavouring, and the interior has gone unchanged for decades.

The chocolate itself is another matter. In 2015, Cadbury changed the formulation of the Creme Egg’s outer shell from using Dairy Milk chocolate to “standard cocoa mix chocolate”. Simultaneously, it reduced the number of eggs in a packet from the half-dozen found in real egg cartons to an unsatisfying five. Public opprobrium came quickly and research found Cadbury’s lost £6 million in Creme Egg sales compared to the previous year.

The fury was overblown, however, believes chocolate expert Andrew Baker, author of From Bean To Bar: A Chocolate Lover’s Guide to Britain. “Standard cocoa mix chocolate is about as ordinary as chocolate can get,” Baker explains. “I can’t think why there was all the fuss. It’s not as if Dairy Milk is good chocolate,” he argues. “The Creme Egg has never been a quality chocolate experience; it’s a sugar hit. Whatever chocolate you use will be overwhelmed by the sweetness of the filling. Accept that,” he advises, “and enjoy the sugar.”


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