Precinct 333

Friday, March 25, 2005

Anybody Else Troubled By This?

I loved chocolate-bunnies when I was a kid. And when i was in seminary, I raised a few eyebrows by giving some of my buddies a humorous product called "Just the Ears" -- a set of molded bunny-ears -- since they are usually eaten first while much of the rest goes to waste (the ears go to waste). I was accused of being disturbed by several of my humor-impaired classmates.

This product, on the other hand, is a bit more disturbing to me.

A symbol of Christianity that sits atop church steeples, dangles from necks and hangs on walls is now ending up in the mouths of the faithful, over the objections of some religious officials.

A mass-produced chocolate cross is being sold this Easter by Russell Stover Candies Inc. in about 5,000 stores nationwide, which experts say is apparently a first for a major American company.

"Obviously they've seen that there's a market for chocolate crosses at Easter," said Lisbeth Echeandia, a consultant for Candy Information Service, which monitors candy industry trends. "I don't see it growing tremendously but I think there would be growth in the Christian market."

However, not all Christians are happy about it. Chomping on a chocolate cross can be offensive to some, said Joseph McAleer, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic diocese in Bridgeport, Conn.

"The cross should be venerated, not eaten, nor tossed casually in an Easter basket beside the jelly beans and marshmallow Peeps," he said. "It's insulting."

They claim to be targetting the Hispanic market. The crosses are decorated with a floral bouquet and are filled with caramel made from goat's milk, a popular Latin America treat.

My initial reaction was "what's next -- a chocolate Jesus?" Not to worry, though.

Ward said Russell Stover considered making other traditional images out of chocolate but eventually opted not to.

"A molded Jesus, for example, would not be a good call and a cross with Jesus on it wouldn't be a good idea either," Ward said.

Am I being overly sensitive on this? Or is there really something "not quite right" about this product?


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