Sweet Season For Blue Frogs And Chocolate Alligators
Chocolate alligators that lay pastel-colored foiled chocolate eggs, Passover plagues dipped in chocolate, and, of course, blue chocolate frogs…
Easter is a more than $2 billion business according to yearly statistics from the National Confectioners Association (NCA), and Blue Frog Chocolates, an Uptown New Orleans chocolatier with a boutique brand of Easter delicacies, is vying for a sweet piece of the seasonal action.
You’ll find all sorts of traditional Easter treats at the 5707 Magazine St. candy store, from chocolate bunnies to chocolate eggs, religious chocolate crosses, prolific panoramic eggs, carrot shaped goodies and bountiful Easter baskets.
But, you’ll also find signature products that set Blue Frog Chocolates apart – kosher for Passover Matzah Crunch (matzah coated in caramel and chocolate), almond macaroon slices filled with raspberry jam, Biblical plague inspired chocolate marshmallow filled frogs and locusts, and, perennial favorite, Cajun Easter “Bunnies,” which are really solid milk chocolate alligators sold in gift boxes served with chocolate eggs for lagniappe.
“You may be able to find similar things to what we have, but they won’t taste as good,” storeowner Ann Streiffer said. “People want to shop local and buy products with fewer preservatives. Our chocolates aren’t the most expensive, but we like to buy natural products, and we have the best quality chocolate that is real chocolate. Pricewise it’s middle of the road, not over the top, and we have an enormous variety.”
Streiffer said her Easter edibles, which range in price from $3.25 to $30, represent only 13% of her annual sales, falling behind Christmas, Mardi Gras and Valentine’s Day in volume and popularity. Even more atypical, at Streiffer’s sugar-fied showroom Easter sales trump Halloween, the nation’s top selling confectionery holiday.
Streiffer said it’s due to the fact that many local schools stopped allowing kids to bring in Halloween chocolates for their classmates. It’s also because her store is steeped in sugarcoated nostalgia, and many customers stick with Blue Frog Chocolates for their Post-Lenten victuals.
“After Lent, they’re ready for their chocolate bunnies,” she said. “When it comes to Easter baskets, everyone loves the bunnies and comes in to find the specialty items that were found in their baskets as kids. Some adult customers come into our store with their old Easter baskets they had as children and carefully choose from our unique variety of Easter desserts. We even see Moms coming in to fill Easter baskets for their 30 and 40-year-old children.”
Streiffer’s pre-packaged Easter baskets start at $65. If one prefers to fill their own, they can choose from chocolate bunny lollipops, chocolate shaped deviled eggs, sour marshmallow bunnies, pastel colored “Milkies,” Peeps, pretzels, Oreo cookies and Louisiana strawberries dipped in chocolate and chocolate bunnies with nonpareil sugar seed bow ties.
“People really love the 3-D bunnies that sit upright, that can’t wait to have their ears bitten off,” Streiffer said.
According to the NCA, 66% of Americans prefer solid chocolate bunnies to hollow ones, and 89% eat a chocolate Easter bunny’s ears first. Roughly 6% start by eating the feet, and 5% begin with the tail.
“Kids and adults alike continue to celebrate the Easter holiday by enjoying one of life’s great treats – candy,” NCA Executive Vice President Alison Bodor said. “And with 87% of parents planning to buy or create Easter baskets for their children, the long-standing tradition lives on.”
Easter is arguably the most important holiday in Christianity, which commemorates the resurrection of Christ. Combined with a secular celebration marking the arrival of spring, Easter has become a pastel-infused festivity where bunnies, baskets, eggs, and chocolate candy have become contemporary symbols of renewal and rebirth.
The NCA reports while the chocolate Easter bunny remains the most popular tasty tidbit to fill Easter baskets, consumers hop to other alternatives like chocolate eggs, marshmallow chicks and jelly beans to round out their candy cornucopia.
Streiffer, whose favorite Easter delight is Marzipan, a ground almond paste, dipped in chocolate, said she and her 6 employees expect to sell more than 600 chocolate bunnies, 200 packs of foiled eggs, around 300 Peeps and 30 pounds of jellybeans by this Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015.
According to the NCA, brand names influence 71% of Americans’ candy purchases.
Since opening in 2000, Blue Frog Chocolates has found a successful balance of eclectic branding, packaging, pricing, variety and social convictions that keep Streiffer’s sweet-toothed customers coming back for more. She said they appreciate her variety of healthful dark chocolate and organic offerings, Fair Trade philosophy and business dealings with environmentally responsible partners.
Savvy chocolate customers normally won’t trifle with consumables with additives and preservatives. But Easter is different. Streiffer said many of the kids who used to come into her store years ago have returned as adults and even bring their kids to choose from her colorful collection. Nostalgia always seems to trump confection convention at Blue Frog Chocolates, she said, where staffers often act as personal shoppers who guide candy-loving clientele around their divine bonne bouches.
While the locally owned and family operated business capitalizes on holiday traffic, Blue Frog Chocolates offers year round indigenous favorites like traditional European-style truffles, Italian candy flowers, chocolate shaped crabs, crawfish, King Cakes, doubloons, music instruments, milk chocolate morsels in black and yellow Saints colors and Zapps Crawtator Chips dipped in dark chocolate.
“We find our kids tend to go for the dark chocolates, and our adults prefer gummy candies like our chocolate covered gummy bears,” Streiffer said of another startling trend reversal. “I don’t think we’re the norm. I guess all our customers are just big kids at heart.”
“We sell really good quality chocolates for the masses,” Streiffer said, “that are very delicious and really cute for Easter.”
Blue Frog Chocolates
5707 Magazine St.
New Orleans, LA 70115