CANTERBURY, England — Chocolate manufacturers in the U.K. have removed the word "Easter" from the holiday egg candy that has delighted millions of children for generations.
But a demand that manufacturers put Easter back on the packaging of chocolate eggs has become the latest culture war issue on the eve of Christianity’s most important holiday, which falls on March 27.
"It’s deeply disappointing and shameful that some of the biggest companies (they include Cadbury and Nestle) are censoring the countries’ old tradition," said David Marshall, CEO of the Meaningful Chocolate Co., a group set up in an attempt to reintroduce Easter eggs and Advent calendars featuring Nativity scenes in the mainstream market. "It shows they’re insensitive and uncomfortable with the Christian faith."
Anglican Bishop Nicholas Holtam of Salisbury also weighed in: "Perhaps people understand that the festival is religious and do not want to see it turned into something secular," he said.
Cadbury, which is based in Birmingham, England, is also marketing chocolate eggs that celebrate the traditional children’s hunt for eggs at Easter.
Its up-market organic chocolate subsidiary, Green and Black’s, is describing Easter as "the festival of chocolate and loveliness."
The chocolate companies, meanwhile, denied claims they were deliberately trying to distance Easter eggs from their religious origin.
In a short statement Cadbury said: "We do not have a policy to drop Easter from our eggs."
"There has been no deliberate decision to drop the word Easter from our products and the name is still widely used at Nestle," said Laura Archer of Nestle.
A recent YouGov opinion poll showed that 4 in 5 British citizens want to keep the "E" word on their eggs.
Added Marshall: "More than 80 million chocolate Easter eggs are sold very year in the U.K., but over the past five years some manufacturers have either removed the word 'Easter' from their boxes, calling them just chocolate eggs, or reduced the word in size and put it on the back of the box."
Trevor Grundy is an RNS correspondent based in Canterbury, England