Sanctified Sweets: Religious Alternatives to Secular Easter Candy

Sanctified Sweets: Religious Alternatives to Secular Easter Candy

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Jelly beans, Cadbury bunnies, marshmallow peeps--they may satisfy your sweet tooth, but they don't have much to do with Jesus. Shouldn't Christianity's defining moment be celebrated with treats that are delicious and meaningful? Luckily, religious alternatives to traditional Easter basket fare abound. Just in time for the big day, Beliefnet sampled spiritually correct candies, judging them on taste and theological import.

Scripture Candy Jelly Beans

Where to buy:

Concept: 15 jelly beans packaged with religious poem; company mission statement says a "single piece of Scripture Candy is like that seed planted by the sower in the parable spoken by Jesus in Matthew 13; it has the potential of producing a tremendous harvest."

Rating: Overall, our panelists praised the "delicious," "chewy," "fruity" taste of these beans--though most agreed they weren't quite the equal of Jelly Bellies. However, the religious poem on each packet gave us pause. The verses describe each bean color in theological terms: red is for Jesus' blood, blue is for the waters of baptism, and so forth. "What does it mean that I like the sin-speckled kind best?" agonized one eater.

Panelists also liked the same company's Strawberries & Cream candies, though they felt the scripture wrappers went too heavy on stern verses from the Pentateuch (the Commandments seemed to be favored) and were short on uplifting passages. A tester wondered whether children "need to be reminded of their mortality and inherent sinfulness" while eating candy.

Chocolate Cross

Where to buy: Gertrude Hawk Chocolates

Concept: Solid 3.75-ounce milk chocolate cross

Rating: Testers enjoyed this "creamy," "chocolatey" and "sweet" item; one admired the small symbol of a butterfly stamped at the cross's base, saying it "subtly conveyed the resurrection message." However, some panelists thought the concept of cross-shaped chocolate tacky, and felt hampered by moral concerns about how to eat it: "Who would bite into the cross?" Also available in a cutesy lamb, as opposed to Paschal lamb, shape.

Cross Lollipops

Where to buy: Oriental Trading Company, Inc. 1-800-228-2269

Concept: Clear and swirled lollipops

Rating: Panelists enjoyed these sweet, flavorful lollipops, reminiscent of those we got in the pediatrician's office. A tester praised the clear variety for providing a "pure sugar rush." But the same concerns arose--should one suck on a religious symbol?

Paschal Lamb Cookie

Where to buy:

Concept: Sugar cookie based on a 17th-century German cookie mold and edged with gold leaf

Rating: Most tasters felt this cookie was "buttery and delicious," similar to "those great shortbread cookies you get." However, one taster found the cookie "dry." All agreed, however, on its appearance: "It's the prettiest cookie I've ever eaten," said one. For most tasters, it was the only cookie they'd ever seen with a genuine gold leaf border.

We also gave a thumbs up to Monastery Greetings' moist and tangy Easter Lemon Cake. Profits from the sale of baked goods benefit a Vermont church's ministries, including a women's shelter.

Last Supper and Praying Hands Chocolate Bars

Where to buy: Sherm Edwards Candies

Concept: Great religious art reproduced in chocolate

Rating: Once "Da Vinci Code" readers stopped arguing over whether the figure to the left of Jesus was the disciple John or Mary Magdalene, testers admired the Last Supper bar's exquisite detail. Most testers ate the background cornices before venturing to consume the apostles; all were reluctant to "eat Jesus."

Unfortunately, panelists felt this 14-ounce bar had that "bargain basement," "artificial," and "waxy" taste. The more petite Praying Hands chocolate novelty (3 ounces), with Durer-like detail, fared much better in taste tests.

Foil Easter Eggs with Cross

Where to buy: Oriental Trading Company, Inc. 1-800-228-2269

Concept: Chocolate eggs wrapped in cross-stamped foil

Rating: Testers admired the pretty foil wrappers on these eggs, but found the chocolate to be so-so in flavor and texture--"definitely inferior to Hershey's." We were tickled by the fact that these cross-emblazoned Easter eggs are kosher. Available in packets or in prayer jar.

Moses-Topped Jelly Beans

Where to buy: Oriental Trading Company, Inc. 1-800-228-2269

Concept: Cylinder of jelly beans topped with plastic biblical figure

Rating: Testers were disappointed in the "toothpasty" and "medicine-y" taste of these jelly beans, which varied in size. The biblical hero we received at random was a rather peculiar Moses carrying the Ten Commandments; he appeared shifty-eyed.