EggsIf only we could blame it on the EU or Muslims – I suspect that was the first thought that entered the heads of Mail and Telegraph journos when it was pointed out that the word ‘Easter’ had been quietly dropped from the branding on boxes containing the springtime produce of the chocolate manufacturers. It would certainly chime with some of the silliest Brussels directives of recent years, ones concerning new specifications over the size of sausages, ones that prompt Sun campaigns to ‘save the British Banger’ and so on. It would also fit the classic Fleet Street Islamic narrative of Loony Left local councils banning Christmas decorations on the grounds that they might offend the non-Christian community. Alas, no. This particular move appears to have come from the chocolate companies themselves.

Nestlé deny there has been a deliberate decision to drop the word Easter from their produce this time of year, but it has disappeared none the less, just as it has from the eggs sold by their rival Cadbury. Is this a sinister conspiracy to erase the key word from a Great British Tradition? I don’t think so; it probably has more to do with the fact that businesses – which is, lest we forget, what Nestlé and Cadbury are – have merely picked up on which way the popular wind is blowing and have gone with the secular flow.

The front cover of the Radio Times – in many respects an unsung barometer of the zeitgeist – this week displays a cartoon bunny. When I was a child, the cover of the Easter issue would always be graced with religious imagery; at one time, I suspect only Father Christmas had appeared on more RT front covers than Jesus. The programming on the BBC reflected the roots of the Easter festival as well; aside from the token church services, I remember seeing the enjoyably kitsch 1973 movie of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ on BBC1 at Easter 1979, and even ITV exhibited a reverence for the Christian tradition by spending a fortune on ‘Jesus of Nazareth’, its epic retelling of the Christ legend with Robert Powell in the title role.

After donning a turban for a visit to a Sikh temple in order to win the ‘ethnic vote’ during the last General Election, David Cameron then went on to nail his colours to the Church of England mast in stressing Britain was still a Christian country. On paper, yes it is; but it’s not the Christian Britain I had shoved down my throat in early schooldays, when assemblies would be dominated by the RE teacher reading a Biblical fable, and the entire class would have to close its eyes and recite the Lord’s Prayer in unison at the end of every day before being allowed to leave at 3.30. It’s not even the Christian Britain that marked Harvest Festival with each pupil bringing a tin of food to school that would then be distributed to the pensioners of the parish. I’m not up to speed on the curriculum these days, but perhaps if such a ritual still exists it now bears a name of something like The Non-Denominational, All-Inclusive Multi-Faith Festival?

While the likelihood of a ‘Jihadi Egg’ being manufactured in the shape of a severed head and featuring a cartoon incarnation of a sword-wielding ISIS assassin on the packaging is probably a step too far even for the paranoid fantasies of a right-wing tabloid editor, the removal of a word that a Nestlé spokesman says is so associated with chocolate eggs that it’s no longer necessary to put it on the box isn’t quite the end of the world as we know it. One could argue the disappearance of references to a religious festival from something so frivolous should enhance the presumed dignity of the occasion rather than detract from it.



Thirty years ago, I bought the first issue of a new national newspaper; today, I bought the last. Yes, the Independent remains an online presence, but it’s not quite the same, is it? I don’t buy a paper often, but when I do, I tend to opt for the Indy; the content always seemed well-balanced between left and right to me, attempting to navigate a middle ground where other papers are incurably partisan, something I found refreshing. But what I really liked about the Independent, a factor it will be impossible to reproduce online, was the design of the front cover.

A cover featuring a single image was pioneered by the Daily Mirror at the turn of the twentieth century, when the Times famously featured classified ads on its cover. Ever since it adopted this eye-catching tactic for major news stories, the Independent has stood out from the other cluttered covers on the newsstands, in which a hysterical headline is hemmed-in by free gift offers, quotes from a columnist whose column features inside, and photos of celebrity fashion faux-pas. By its very nature, an online newspaper’s homepage is cluttered, with the need to include links to every section. The single image that gave the print edition of the Independent’s front cover its aesthetic uniqueness cannot have the same impact when viewed on a monitor or a mobile.

The paper may be moving with the times, but by doing so it has undoubtedly lost something special in the process. The Independent stood out from its competitors in the newsagents, but it won’t online. It can’t.

© The Editor

11 thoughts on “INSERT EGG PUN HERE

  1. By coincidence, Mrs Mudplugger observed earlier this very day that there seemed to be far less ‘Easterish’ coverage on TV than ever before, even noting that Brenda’s annual, and increasingly generous, distribution of Maundy Money seemed to have by-passed the editors this year.
    I suspect it’s a combination of the rapid growth of secularism, the fear of offending other religions (which all my Muslim friends tell me is nonsense, they like chocolate too) and the wish of suppliers to distance their product sales from anything which could compromise them – if they lose marginal sales from a linkage to a religion, then sever the link and keep the sales. It’s far safer to promote your product using a bouncy bunny than some bearded bloke being brutally executed. Progress eh ?

    Although not a regular Independent reader, I respected its mission and method, but it was trying to survive in that squeezed-out space between all the more partial press and it did well to last as long as it has in dead-tree format. I love reading newpapers, real paper ones: there’s nothing quite like the eye-flicking exercise as you scan a full broadsheet for items of interest, then settling on one to plunder for detail and depth, then another topic, but I’ll be surprised if they last another decade. The odds are firmly stacked against them, with far fewer young readers replacing the dead ones like me and advertisers finding more cost-effective ways to narrow-cast to their targets, the print-writing is on the wall for that information-vehicle of both my delight and education. It takes courage to be the first to jump to the digital-only ship, but surely the rest will follow. Like horse-power, water-power and steam-power before them, they had their day in the sun, but even the Sun goes down eventually. Progress eh ?

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  2. I suspect that they are trying to make the sales less date specific. Aren’t cream eggs sole for most of the year? There’s not much indigenous confectionery left anyway Cadbury’s are apparently owned by Mondelez International whoever they might be.
    Here in the former colonies we seem to always have the Cecil B. DeMille classic “The Ten Commandments” on the box over Easter maybe it is because Charlton Heston wear a coat with colours very similar to our national flag.

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    1. I think Cadbury’s cream eggs are on sale all year round now, though they didn’t used to be. Easter eggs, or the eggs formerly known as Easter eggs, are still only on sale this time of year.


  3. Do you think that most Christians, or God Almighty Himself, on no longer seeing Jesus’ death being trivialised by association with a clucking hen, or a gormless rabbit, really give an iota?

    As for politicians who draw their ‘faith of the day’ from their magician’s hat, Pilate showed greater credibility….

    It’s all enough to make you cross

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    1. Whilst I agree that they should indeed resent the trivialisation, they may alternatively subscribe to the dictum that ‘no publicity is bad publicity’. So when any innocent young child asks why there is a tasty chocolate-based celebration around this time, that’s the ideal trigger opportunity for the god-botherers to promote their faith-based message to a whole new generation unsullied recruits through the medium of bribery-by-chocolate. Tough call for them.
      I too reckon that Pilate, like Judas, had a bad press – both need a new PR agent, shame Max Clifford’s unavailable at the moment.

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  4. Christians co-opted the pagan festival to the goddess Eostre, a fertility festival, which is where we get oestregen from (the name, not the actual hormone) and was corrupted to Easter. Both bunnies and eggs are symbols of fertility. So, religious in some way, and Christians co-opted it because Jesus rising from the dead also tries to chime with the cycle of birth/death/re-birth. It’s a bit like hijacking Yule for Christmas.

    Losing the name on a box of chocolate means you can sell it all year round. After all, most humans don’t seemed to be limited to seasonal reproduction cycles.


  5. The country is losing its formal Christian tradition; whether by default or design, the values that my parents and the generations before them adhered to are melting away like snow in the rain. And in some cases that might be a good thing. But I fear for what might fill the vacuum….++

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