In Search of a Natural Pastel Easter Egg

Sometimes I feel like less of a woman because I don’t like chocolate. Like drinking coffee helps you fit in at the office, eating chocolate helps you fit in as one of the gentler sex. I play along with “this calls for CHOCOLATE!” when times get tough but the truth is, most of the time I’d rather have broccoli.

Micro mini Easter eggs from Carnaby Sweets

Micro mini chocolate Easter eggs

The exception to the “Chocolate = meh” rule is if that chocolate is a) milk chocolate and b) covered or mixed with some kind of candy. I do get occasional cravings for caramel chocolate pretzels, ice cream with chocolate cookie bits, and Cadbury chocolate mini-eggs around Easter. Which brings me to my point: Easter eggs.  

For those not familiar, mini eggs are little milk chocolate morsels in a candy coating. They come in pretty pastel colours; very spring-y. It’s a bit too easy to pop a few in your mouth every time you pass the candy dish. They’re addictive, and they’re tasty. My brother-in-law usually scarfs down a 1-kg bag over the few days leading up to Easter.

I eat mini eggs every year, and I feel bad about it. I know they’re full of artificial colours and flavours, as well as other ingredients you certainly wouldn’t find in your cupboard at home.

Easter merchandise at the drug store

A covert (photo) op at the drug store

I struggle at Easter (as well as Halloween) because there don’t seem to be any natural (yet festive) alternatives. I don’t want to be the Debbie Downer who says “hey guys, I brought raisins to your party/the office since I couldn’t find any good candy”. (I don’t even want to think about what it would be like to go through that exercise with your kids, like Lisa at 100 Days of Real Food, which I’ve just started reading and definitely love.)

Anyway, I was browsing through our local Shoppers Drug Mart last week and taking a few covert photos of the aisles (see the spread of Easter chocolates at right ->) when I noticed a new brand called Carnaby Sweet. Sounds quite British, but I’ve since learned it’s actually a re-brand of Life brand. This is odd, because I didn’t think of Life brand products as very health-oriented. I flipped over the package of micro-mini eggs and was immediately caught off-guard by these words: natural flavour.

Artificial vanilla flavour drives me bonkers. It’s everywhere. When I was younger, I didn’t even realize you could get natural vanilla since I never saw it.

Let’s compare the classic Cadbury mini eggs ingredients with the ones (which I think are genuinely tastier) from Carnaby Sweet:

Cadbury Mini Eggs chocolate Easter Candy Micro mini chocolate Easter egg candy from Carnaby Sweet
Cadbury Mini Eggs (Canada): Milk chocolate (sugar, milk ingredients, cocoa butter, unsweetened chocolate, soy lecithin, natural and artificial flavours), sugar, gum arabic, artificial flavour, colour (with tartrazine). Carnaby Sweet: Sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, unsweetened chocolate, soy lecithin, natural vanilla flavour, modified corn starch, natural colours.

For a somewhat alarming comparison (especially for you cross-border shoppers out there), check out the ingredient list for Cadbury Mini Eggs in the US: Milk chocolate (sugar; milk, cocoa butter, chocolate; lactose; soy lecithin; PGPR; emulsifier; artificial flavor and natural flavors); sugar; contains 2% or less of: cornstarch; gum acacia; corn syrup; artificial color (YELLOW 6 LAKE; BLUE 2 LAKE; YELLOW 5; BLUE 2; RED 40); milk fat; invert sugar; nonfat milk; artificial flavor; sodium bicarbonate; salt)

Which would you rather eat?

If you want to talk price, the “more natural” eggs are $3.49 per 200 g bag, while Cadbury mini eggs are $4.79 for the same size – significantly more.

Are the Carnaby eggs they fully natural? No. Are they a step in the right direction – for me? (yes) and for candy-makers in general? (also yes.)

Since I can’t share over the internet, here’s some eye candy instead.

Candy-coated chocolate micro mini eggs from Carnaby Sweet

Candy-coated chocolate micro mini eggs from Carnaby Sweet

 

Do you turn a blind eye to the ingredients in seasonal sweets? Or have you found a “more natural” brand? Please let me know in the comments below.

Comments

  1. Love the post. Our family eats NO artificial dyes or flavors (or preservatives). Guittard and Ghirardelli chocolates normally use real vanilla (in some of their products). We have a Trader Joe’s nearby, and they have a good selection of all-natural, festive candy, but they don’t do mail order. I do find a few things online – there is a natural variety of Choco Rocks that is every bit as good as M&Ms (not made with carob or anything weird) – and I make my own beautifully colored cupcakes with a combination of my own homemade dyes (boil a cup of carrot juice down to a tablespoon of liquid color for a wonderful daisy yellow; boil beets, strain the liquid & boil down for a fantastic fuchsia) and commercial all-natural colors. So we have plenty of color in our lives, but I do wish candy companies would get on board with using real vanilla at the very least. Thanks for the post!

    • Thanks for sharing your tricks for making natural dyes, Karen! We definitely eat with our eyes as much as our taste buds. There are no Trader Joe’s near me either but I can probably get my hands on some Ghiradelli…will definitely take a look.

      One other option I’ve seen online but not yet in person is UnReal. They don’t make Easter eggs but they do make chocolate similiar to M&M’s, but with natural colours. http://getunreal.com/gimme-ones#compare

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  1. […] more abundant. That’s why I so was surprised to find natural vanilla flavour lurking in my pastel-coloured Easter eggs. Flavours might be added to foods to make them more palatable and enticing (think vanilla yogurt) […]

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