Lucy Mangan: confessions of a Creme Egg addict
The first time Lucy Mangan tried Cadbury’s famous fondant egg, she knew she’d found her one true love. Don’t even think about telling her they’re too sweet...
How – as the 1985 slogan goes (probably tying for first place with Flake’s ‘Only the crumbliest, flakiest chocolate...’ for iconic chocolate ad campaign status) – do you eat yours? Like 53% of the people once surveyed by the product’s manufacturers, I am a bite-and-licker, and could never contemplate any other way.
I am talking, of course, of the great and glorious confection that is the Cadbury Creme Egg. I still remember my first one. My mother was strict on everything, but especially sweets, and when I finally got my hands on one, I thought I’d reached nirvana. The chocolate top was so thick, I couldn’t bite through it, but had to scrape shavings off with my teeth. Perseverance was its own reward, I had been taught – clearly by people who had never experienced a Creme Egg.
Underneath the chocolate, I eventually discovered, lay the famous fondant (it’s technically an ‘inverted sugar syrup’, but let’s not let daylight in upon magic, shall we?). I cannot describe this gorgeous substance with only the paltry resource of the written word at my disposal. So thick it coats your tongue, so sweet it turns your whole bloodstream to singing joy... I instantly knew all other relationships in my life, be they with food, music, books or people, would pale by comparison. And it was yellow and white, like a real egg! There are YouTube videos aplenty showing you how this miracle is achieved, but I prefer not to know. Thirty years on, I still get an echo of that first thrill whenever I see this benign witchcraft.
Short version: I’m a fan. How do I eat mine? As often and in as great a number as possible.
There are people, of course, who dislike Creme Eggs, finding these wonders cloyingly sweet. During Creme Egg season – officially 1 January to Easter Day – these people partake of none of the 1.5 million a day the egg plant at Bournville makes, the 500 million a year produced worldwide or the 333 million little bundles of joy sold in the UK alone. I am closer to understanding fans of Top Gear than I am these people. It’s a sweet. It’s meant to be sweet. The sweeter a sweet the better, is my very simple philosophy in life.
The Creme Egg has been bringing joy to right-minded people for more than 50 years. Eggs filled with creme fondant were originally manufactured in 1923 by Cadbury, but the first Creme Egg as we would recognise it was produced by Fry in 1963. Cadbury (which bought Fry in 1919) took on the mantle in 1971.
I can measure out my life in Creme Eggs, from that inaugural taste sensation bought in my local sweet shop, TK Bantons (now, alas, no longer with us), to the dizzying moment when my revered older cousin David, who had a paper round, bought me and my sister six each (six! My mother confiscated five, but still, what style! What munificence!), to the day lovely Simon in my sixth form bought me one from the school canteen, just because he knew I liked them.
Each to their own, of course, but I’m a traditionalist and have no truck with Creme Egg spin-offs like the Twisted bar or McFlurry, or upstarts such as Cadbury’s Caramel Egg (introduced in 1994), or the orange or mint versions that have emerged over the years. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they are abominations, but they do distract from and dilute the pure high that the original first delivered to me. I stick to the classic egg. It takes me less time to bite through the top now, but in all other respects, our bond is unchanged. We always have a very happy Easter.
Why not try our favourite Creme Egg recipes this Easter...