Tahlequah Daily Press

April 16, 2012

The Easter bunny is not good for the waistline

Managing Editor

TAHLEQUAH — Easter’s over, and I’m relieved.

I’m referring to society’s secular celebration of a sacred Christian holiday that has its roots in pagan practices. But what most people think of as Easter Sunday is actually the First Sunday of a 50-day season that culminates in Pentecost.

So what I’m really complaining about is Lent, the 40-day period of fasting, alms-giving and repentance, and the Triduum, which includes Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, plus Easter Sunday. My problem is not the religious aspect; it’s the gluttony of the season, featuring the prominent consumption of candy.

This tradition is a source of dread for parents of bunny believers and any adult engaged in a battle with the bathroom scales. It is celebrated the world over by children too young to worry about body fat; grocery stores, from corner to mega-warehouse variety; diet doctors pushing pills and cosmetic surgeons trading in tummy tucks; and dentists, with their armies of drills going “whee-whee-whee” all the way home.

When it comes to candy-peddling periods, the Easter stretch has the longest duration. Orange- and black-wrapped Halloween candy shambles onto the shelves in mid-September, to be replaced by hues of red, green, silver and gold, merrily jingling their way along for Christmas. Once Santa’s leftovers have been packed off to the dollar stores, the pinks and reds of Valentine’s Day arrive, followed by the soft pastels of Easter, coordinated to rest beside dyed eggs left by the sugar-hawking hare who hops along in April.

I’ve previously confessed to my neuroses involving candy shaped like animals. While I have no problem devouring a hamburger, I won’t eat animal crackers because I feel sorry for them. (I am aware I need counseling.) I have the same proclivities where chocolate Easter bunnies are concerned, though I like fried rabbit and rabbit stew. The Easter bunny has al-ways been sympathetic; when he dropped off chocolate rabbits for my sister and brother, he left me with a chocolate egg. The only emotional trauma I ever suffered was when my brother, who’s four years younger than I, got physically big enough to hold me down and force me to watch as he gnawed off the ears of his chocolate bunny, after having plucked off and audibly crunched its little candy eye.

My husband doesn’t eat much chocolate, except during the weeks before Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter. He’s a niche marketer’s dream. When our son was little, my husband always dropped a few bags of candy into the shopping cart with the comment, “It’s for the kid.” It was important to justify the purchase. For Halloween, trick-or-treaters wouldn’t work as an excuse, because we live in the sticks and have never hosted trick-or-treaters – except one kid many years ago, and we’ve always suspected either he got lost, or his parents intended to case the place before quickly realizing we had nothing they, or anyone else, would want.

Our son is at college now, but my husband still buys candy for his basket, which sometimes doesn’t materialize because our son doesn’t come home Easter weekend. This year, he did come home, and I found an old basket to fill with what was left of the candy purchased a few weeks earlier. His booty also included a large Reese’s egg, and a box of blue Peeps. Even if Peeps did not resemble baby chicks, I would not eat them. I have gotten into several arguments over the years about Peeps, and whether they are fit for human consumption. I’d just as soon seek sustenance from my cat’s litterbox. My son will eat Peeps – and anything else except potato salad – but he also informed me Peeps can be functional. College kids these days engage in “Peep jousting,” wherein they take two Peeps, stick a toothpick in each of them and place them in a microwave facing each other. The Peep that swells up and overtakes his opponent first wins the match.

My husband isn’t a big Peeps fan, but he does like jellybeans, and this year, he espied jellybeans flavored like Starburst, Skittles, SweetTarts and other traditional candies. He bought several bags and poured them into a bowl, along with the obligatory candy bar miniatures. The bowl was placed in the living room, where any passerby would yield to temptation. Since the only passersby other than on Easter weekend were my husband and myself, we did a disproportionate amount of yielding. But we continued the daily workout regimen I pledged for Lent, within reach of the “devil’s dish.” During weight-lifting sessions, while one of us pumped iron on the bench, the other would munch jellybeans. And I don’t even like jellybeans.

The torment ended April 8, at my parents’ house. My contribution was a chocolate-peanut butter layer cake that broke up like the Titanic during the trip to Fort Gibson. We all ate ourselves to a miserable state of bloat, before retiring to the backyard to watch my 3-year-old niece hunt for eggs. I recalled when we were kids, we were always loathe to part with our Easter eggs. One August, my brother dropped an egg in my bedroom. As the stench arose, we screamed for our mom, who retched repeatedly as she picked up the malodorous orb with a paper towel. My sister assured me that once her daughter’s back was turned, she would seize the eggs and devil them. Better her than me. My husband likes deviled eggs, too, but they also create a stench, even if it’s not as bad as the August Easter egg.

Kim Poindexter is managing editor of the Tahlequah Daily Press.