Jacques Torres Chocolate expects to sell 5,000 kilos of Easter-themed chocolates this holiday season. The famous chocolatier’s eponymous Manhattan candy kitchen is churning out chocolate eggs, lambs and bunnies to satisfy the heavy holiday demand.
He says the spring holiday is about renewal.
“Easter has a long tradition and Easter is birth, Easter is Spring," notes Torres who is also known as "Mr. Chocolate". "Eggs are a symbol. The rabbit is a symbol also - reproduction - eggs, the same. So making them in chocolate became very big. Everyone loves chocolate.”
Chocolate Easter bunnies are a hallmark of the holiday. Torres says they look virtually the same everywhere, because there are only a few standard molds. This year, he worked with a sculptor to create a new mold and reinvent the rabbit.
"The body of the rabbit is oversized, really fat, and then we oversized the ears," Torres explains. "So now you can break the ears and actually can share the ears - this is the best part."
In the city's Soho district, on a sunny, tree-lined block, The Hat Shop is busy selling bonnets and other hats for spring. Regulars stop by to find that perfect new topper and catch up with proprietress Linda Pagan. There are dramatically tall top hats and demure, bell-shaped cloches in Easter pastels.
Local milliners handcraft the hats that Pagan has been designing and fitting since 1995. A person's hat size is taken by measuring the circumference of the head - just above the ears and just above the eyebrows, she says. Hat style is chosen to complement the customer's features. According to Pagan, round faces look good with fedoras and bowlers accent delicate features.
Although hats are popular in New York year round, Pagan says Easter is the perfect excuse for flamboyance.
"At the Easter parade, you'll get people dressing to the nines," she says. "It's not necessarily about everyday fashion. It's about fashion for Easter."
Historically, Easter church services and the parade on New York’s Fifth Avenue set the stage for dramatic hats bedecked with feathers, flowers and ribbons.
"At a time when women would dress to impress at church, Easter was the time to pull out all the stops," explains Pagan.
A brief hat history with Linda Pagan
The egg, the rabbit and the flowers adorning a colorful bonnet speak not only to Easter, but also to the rebirth and renewal of spring across the Northern Hemisphere. As for the chocolate, Jacques Torres says people are always looking for an excuse to eat more sweets.