If Charlotte’s clouds of pollen have kept you in a fog, you may have overlooked the fact that Easter and Passover are coming up fast – on the same weekend, in fact.
Passover begins at sundown Friday, April 19. Easter is Sunday, April 21. They’re both deeply religious holidays that we celebrate with distinctive meals.
Any similarity pretty much ends there, with one exception: the abundance of unique, novelty foods available to bring a little sweet levity to the season. So while you’re planning how to prepare your ham, lamb, and matzo balls, here are some other treats you can consider adding to your menu just for fun.
Sure, everyone knows about mainstream chocolate eggs, bunnies, and beans. Now, with the “explosive” popularity of Peeps, the flavor palette for this marshmallow confection has expanded to include root beer float and pancakes-and-syrup versions. The Jelly Belly company has rolled out cinnamon-apple, glazed, and other Krispy Kreme doughnut-flavored beans; plus cocktail-themed blends such as Mojito and Margarita. These join a roster of what can only be called gag flavors that include Pencil Shavings and Toothpaste - perfect for kids who deserve lumps of coal on Christmas.
We haven’t tried the religious-themed Palm Leaf Gummies and can’t imagine what that flavor might evoke, but we sure hope those Cross-Shaped Lollipops don’t taste like the wood they represent. It’s a relief to know we can always rely on Reese’s stalwart chocolate-and-peanut-butter combo, now fashioned into a “Reester” Bunny.
Passover predates Easter, but the Jewish commemoration of the Exodus has some catching up to do when it comes to foods that amuse. Keeping kosher and following the prohibitions against leavening during Passover really limit the options for bakers and sweets-makers. They have to be extra creative. Hebrew letters and symbols are embossed into lickable chocolate candy pops that we found online from longtime kosher purveyor Streit’s. Another venerated manufacturer, Manischewitz, produces “Magic Max Cotton Candy” and a Passover-approved S’more Matzo kit. Thinking back to the Biblical Plagues of Egypt story, we were really disappointed to find that the “Plague of Animals” sour jelly candies seem to be out of stock everywhere this year.
Welcoming spring means lots of opportunities to nibble on sweets as colorful as the actual flowers, bees, and butterflies they mimic.
But all silliness aside, Easter and Passover mark pivotal events in human history. We should be appropriately reverent. Still, this is the season of rebirth. When the clouds clear, it’s only natural that we’ll want to indulge all of our re-awakening appetites.
Amy Rogers writes WFAEats, a fun adventure where we explore all things tasty and tackle the meatier side of the food scene in and around Charlotte.