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A Bunny, a Bilby — a Chocolate Tradition

A Bunny, a Bilby — a Chocolate Tradition

I have a friend who just loves this time of year.  For her it's all about the chocolate — supposedly it tastes better than plain chocolate.  In truth, it's probably more about the texture and the crunch of snapped off pieces of dairy milk but who am I to say.

We all know that Easter is a significant time on the Christian calendar.  But what about this bunny?

The Easter Bunny (also called the Easter Rabbit or Easter Hare) is a folk figure and symbol of Easter, depicted as a rabbit bringing Easter eggs. This symbol originated among the German Lutherans — whereby the bunny played a role of a judge, evaluating whether children were good or disobedient in behaviour at the start of the season of Eastertide.

The Easter Bunny is occasionally depicted with clothes.  In legend, the creature carries coloured eggs in his basket, candy and sometimes also toys to the homes of children, and as such show similarities to Santa Claus or the Christkind, as they both bring gifts to children on the night before their respective holidays.  The custom was first mentioned in Georg Franck von Franckenau's De ovis Paschal ibis (About Easter Eggs) in 1682 referring to a German tradition of an Easter Hare bringing Easter eggs for the children.

An Australian twist on the tradition is the Easter Bilby.  

The idea of the chocolate bilby came from a story written by a nine-year-old girl, in March 1968. "Billy The Aussie Easter Bilby," was published as a book 11 years later. The story helped catalyse the public's interest in saving the bilby. In 1991 Nicholas Newland from the 'Foundation for Rabbit-Free Australia' also developed the idea of the Easter Bilby to raise awareness about the environmental damage that feral rabbits cause and to replace the Easter bunny with true native wildlife.

The first Chocolate Easter Bilbies were sold at the Warrawong Sanctuary when it was owned by John Wamsley. Chocolate manufacturers that donate towards Bilby conservation include Pink Lady and Haigh's Chocolates.

In 2014, Pink Lady donated 30 cents from every large bilby sale and $1 from every ten pack. Parent company Fyna Foods manufactures chocolate bilbies as well as other iconic Australian fauna in their Australian Bush Friends Easter chocolate. 20 cent from every Bush Friends collection is donated to the Save the Bilby Fund. 2015 saw these chocolates raise over $33,000 for the fund.

Cadbury's also produce Chocolate Bilbies, although they do not donate or support any bilby conservation projects. This had led to a backlash against Cadbury with many Australians derogatorily referring to their Bilby products as Easter Bludgers. Before their store closures in 2012, Darrell Lea donated approximately $60,000 per year to the Save the Bilby Fund from the sales of the Darrell Lea chocolate bilbies.

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