The Easter bunny is on his way, and he’s got a sweet tooth. Nearly 83 percent of parents plan to include candy and chocolate in their Easter baskets this year, according to a nationwide survey by the National Confectioners Association (NCA). Additional popular items in the basket include non-edibles, such as crayons, stuffed animals and books (73 percent).
Total U.S. confectionery sales this Easter season are projected to be $2.26 billion—up 4 percent from 2013—due to three extra weeks of merchandising. About 81 percent of survey respondents said they will share or gift candy during America’s favorite springtime holiday.
“The survey indicates that kids and adults alike continue to celebrate the Easter holiday by enjoying one of life’s great treats: candy. And with 87 percent of parents planning to buy or create Easter baskets for their children, the long-standing tradition lives on,” said NCA EVP Alison Bodor. “Candy has a special place in American culture. It’s what many people enjoy at holidays and other celebrations. And studies show that consumers know how to ‘treat right.’ Research suggests that candy comprises only 2.2 percent of the average diet.”
Holiday purchasing trends
NCA’s survey provides new insights about Americans’ buying preferences and habits:
• The power of the in-store experience during holidays. More than half of adult consumers (51 percent) are influenced by holiday displays to purchase seasonal candy.
• Playing the name game. Brand names influence 71 percent of Americans’ candy purchases.
• Keeping it classy. Seventy-two percent of those surveyed say they are influenced by the classics or popular choices when buying seasonal candy.
• Spring brings kindness. Seventy-eight percent of Americans often buy Easter candy to share with friends, family or colleagues.
The tradition of the Easter bunny began with the Easter hare in Germany, who would leave brightly colored eggs for children on Easter morning. In the 18th century, the tradition of the Easter hare came to the U.S. and eventually evolved into the Easter bunny we know today. Now, chocolate bunnies are the most popular items in Easter baskets, and are paired with other favorites, like jelly beans and marshmallow treats.
Survey results related to the Easter bunny include:
• Solid choice. About 66 percent of Americans prefer solid chocolate bunnies over hollow ones.
• All ears. Eighty-nine percent of respondents believe the proper way to eat a chocolate Easter bunny is ears first. Roughly 6 percent go for the feet, and 5 percent begin with the tail.
• The age-old question. Which came first—Easter bunny or the Easter egg? A slight majority of survey respondents (52 percent) say the Easter bunny came before the Easter egg.
Jelly beans remain a seasonal classic—more than 16 billion of them are made for Easter each year in the U.S. Cherry is the most popular jelly bean flavor among survey respondents (24 percent). Strawberry is another top favorite (19 percent), while licorice, lemon and grape collectively are enjoyed most by 35 percent of Americans. Surprisingly, about 22 percent of those surveyed prefer an “other” flavor.