The bunny that nobody ate

On The Way

By Olivia Fowler

Olivia Fowler

Olivia Fowler

I was 8 years old when I saw my first chocolate bunny. Until then, I didn’t even know there was such a thing. We were brought up with more simple candies.

Candy came into our lives only three times a year, as Mama believed it would rot our teeth out.

Halloween was the first candy celebration. We didn’t always get to go trick or treating, but when we did it was a very big deal.

We’d take our booty home, dump it out and sort through it. I’d give Matt all my licorice jelly beans and anything that had coconut in it. Tootsie Rolls and bubble gum were divided 50/50, as were Mary Janes and Bit-O-Honeys.

When Christmas rolled around, we could count on a beloved relative in Norfolk to send us each a fold-out box, Lifesavers Sweet Story, filled with every variety of Lifesavers made. We also got hard Christmas candies in what we considered exotic shapes and flavors, a few Silver Bells and sometimes chocolate-covered cherries. Nuts, tangerines and oranges filled up the rest of our stockings.

When Easter came, we could expect a few candy eggs with the candy shell exterior and the super sweet marshmallow-like filling and a handful of jelly beans. We were thrilled with this.

So when our cousins from Washington, D.C., came for Easter with the chocolate bunny, we were overwhelmed.

It was large and in its own box. The front of the box was cellophane so we could clearly see the bunny, from his chocolate ears down to his chocolate tail.

There was an egg hunt planned for Easter afternoon in Grandmama’s front yard. The uncles would hide the eggs, and whichever child found the most would win the chocolate bunny.

I coveted that bunny with a passion. It was an unbelievable opportunity — in my mind, a once-in-a-lifetime kind of opportunity. For at that point in life, never having encountered a chocolate bunny before, I saw no reason to expect to ever come across another one.

Since I’d never seen one before, I assumed they only had them in Washington, D.C.. I imagined that chocolate bunnies were probably available on every street corner.

We children discussed it and decided that everybody in Washington, D.C., must be rich. We could see no other way to own a chocolate bunny.

So the bunny represented more to us than just a piece of candy. The bunny represented an alternate lifestyle; a lifestyle where children had access to chocolate bunnies anytime they liked and could eat them at will.

As this group of cousins were the primary source of hand-me-downs, owned several pairs of shoes apiece and arrived at Grandmama’s house at holidays in a new car, the possession of the chocolate bunny proved to us that they were rich.

Every item of clothing we wore to school had appeared before on the back of another older child in the family. There was no such thing as a “new” coat. Most of them were already old friends.

This presented no problem to any of us, as every other soul attending our school was similarly situated, and label envy was unknown. As I was one of the youngest there were few labels left on anything by the time I got them anyway.

Suffice it to say, we all wanted that chocolate bunny, and we wanted it bad.

When the egg hunt began, we were so excited and stressed out we could hardly function. I missed egg after egg, trailing behind an older cousin who was part of the Washington tribe.

When all the eggs had been found, I was not among those with high egg counts. We were outraged when we learned that the cousin who would be awarded the bunny was one of the Washington cousins.

And when I asked if I could taste the bunny, he said no. He said he wasn’t going to share. This was a foreign concept to the rest of us. We always shared. If there was one piece of cake, we divided it among us. One would measure, and the others got to pick.

So this just added insult to injury. I remember saying, “But you can have a chocolate bunny anytime you want one!”

Although there have been other disappointments in life, the incident of the unshared chocolate bunny left a permanent impression. I still wonder what it tasted like.