When I was growing up (whenever you start a sentence with that phrase you immediately date yourself and people under the age of thirty stop reading) the non-religious celebration of Easter involved seeing what kind of new hats ladies would wear to church. The ladies worked hard to strike a balance between choosing a hat that was sure to be noticed but not one that would give off an air of being flirtatious. It was also the Sunday that white cotton gloves were released from their mothball-filled sarcophagus.
Easter Sunday was mother’s target date for finishing sewing new sport coats for me and my brothers. Foolish boy that I was, I envied the boys who had store bought sport coats.
Easter eggs actually came from chickens, were hardboiled and colored on Saturday using a concoction of vinegar and food dye. Fear of carcinogens lurking in Red Dye #48 be gone!
We would hide and re-hide the eggs until the shells became so shattered there was nothing left to do but peel and eat them. No one let a little salmonella stop them!
There might be a few jelly beans in my Easter basket, but that was the lone concession to the confectionary art.
I’m not sure when the shift started, but I’m guessing it was while Ronald Reagan was President. (Another historical reference that dates me.) He’s the one who kept a jar of jelly beans on his desk. His hand was often in the jar. (I am not suggesting that his offense eventually led to another President (Clinton) who couldn’t keep his hand out of the (ahem) “cookie jar.”)
But I digress. My concern is that sugar has taken over Easter.
I did some research on this. (Which, in today’s language, means I let Google do all the research.)
Here’s what I learned about sugar intake in general in the United States:
- Americans consume 22 teaspoons of sugar a day according to a report on MSNBC.
- 16% of a child’s diet is comprised of sugars.
- Another source said we consume 150 lbs of sugar a year
As shocking as those numbers are, what I now know, and perhaps what researches have overlooked, is that the gorging that goes on Easter weekend is why these numbers are so high. I found the following information in the “Yorkshire Times” (you gotta love my Scottish kinsmen):
- Children aged 10-14 will indulge in an average of more than two-and-a-half kilograms of chocolate over the Easter holiday, taking in nearly 13,000 calories and 650 grams of fat, a survey revealed.
- The poll, by mystery shopping company Retail Active, found a typical 200g Easter egg has 990 calories and 50 grams of fat, with youngsters eating an average of 13, many first thing on Easter Sunday.
- Managing director Julian Chamberlain said children could get as many as 13 Easter eggs each.
- He said: “Families with two adults in their 40s and two children under 14 could have an amazing cumulative total of 30 Easter eggs in the household over the holiday.
- “Seventy-seven per cent of adults allow their children to tuck into their Easter egg binge first thing on Easter morning – before having any breakfast or even a drink”
It’s no wonder that yesterday’s Easter celebration with my grandchildren involved plastic eggs filled with M&M’s, jelly beans, and tic-tacs. There was a cake. At least I think it was a cake somewhere underneath the two inches of icing that was overlaid with tiny colored rabbits holding hands around the edge and dancing on top. Those innocent looking rabbits were actually marshmallows. (When did they start making marshmallows in any other shape but cylindrical?)
Also there was a small tub filled with rabbits on sticks. Those rabbits were paraffin textured, mint-flavored candy like the kind served at wedding receptions.
By the time the afternoon was over I felt as if someone had held one of those funnel-tube things over my mouth and poured two ten-pound sacks of sugar down me.
My sweet grandchildren had been transformed into some type of evil Gremlins. I actually saw one of them bare their teeth at their brother. A scary sight that caused their pet Rat Terriers to tuck tale and hide!
When sleep finally came last night, those visions of sugar plum fairies all looked like the hippos in Disney’s movie “Fantasia.” (My final historical reference.)