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My favorite holiday, hands down, is and always has been Easter. It's obviously special for what it means as the pinnacle of the church year - but the older I get, the notion that it hasn't been commercialized to excess the way Christmas has only adds to its already wonderful appeal.  

As I'm sure is the case for you also, I have lots of great memories of Easters past. My dear mother is at the center of many of my holiday recollections. One stroll down the candy aisle at the grocery store this time of year, and I see something that brings her immediately to mind. Peeps!

If you don't know them by name, I'm certain a little description will help you. They're those little marshmallow creations shaped like chicks (and bunnies and - new this year - tulips). I must confess I'm not a lover of Peeps myself, but they were one of my mom's favorites. She suffered a massive stroke at a fairly young age which ended up confining her to bed until her death, but even while she was ill, it was easy to bring a smile to her face with a pre-Easter package of Peeps!

If you're an aficionado, you know that chicks were the originals, and at first they only came in yellow. Now, though, they also come in pink, lavender, blue, and green. It seems the white chicks have been retired...

The chicks were followed by bunnies (yellow, pink, lavender and blue) and now we have tulips. According to their manufacturer, Peeps have been the most popular non-chocolate Easter candy for the past 10 years. I made my way to the Peeps official website this week; it's a little bit tongue in cheek, full of factoids and company history, and even includes recipes (who knew...PEEPSicles?).

While I was thinking about Easter candy, of course I had to do some sleuthing to dig up more "sweet" facts! Easter ranks right up near the top in terms of candy sales and consumption - it's in the number two slot right behind Halloween.

According to the National Confectioners' Association, we're talking more than seven billion pounds of candy. 90 million chocolate bunnies are produced annually, more than 700 million Peeps are sold, and 16 billion jellybeans are consumed at Easter. Talk about a sugar rush!

People who have far too much time on their hands actually polled Americans to find out how they eat their Easter candy! According to the survey, the chocolate bunnies should be consumed first (that opinion is shared by a whopping 76%). But should one start at the feet or the ears?

70% of kids ages 6-11 said they prefer to eat jelly beans one at a time, versus several at once. The favorite jelly bean flavor? Cherry.

In recent years, of course, other candy makers have gotten into the Easter act, with items like pastel M&Ms and Reese's peanut butter eggs joining the more traditional candies on the shelves. That's a long way from hot cross buns, one of the earliest (and still popular in Europe) Easter treats.

Though I'm not a big candy eater, I do have an Easter favorite, and I always indulge at least once during the's the Reese's egg for me.

How about you? However you celebrate, and whatever holiday memories you're creating this year, may the miracle of the Resurrection fill you with hope and joy.

Wishing you and yours a blessed Easter.

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