With Easter around the corner, I have been Googling vintage Easter advertisements and came across some gems, which led me down the rabbit hole! NO pun intended, but it did lead me to chocolate bunnies. Ahh, Easter at Eaton’s!
It wouldn’t be Easter at Eaton’s without the milk-chocolatey goodness of something sweet from the candy counter, like a chocolate bunny or chick!
Fun fact! Did you know that Eaton’s had its own Candy Factory?
In fact, it also had Candy Kitchens in some of its bigger stores. The Candy Factory was located on the 8th floor of the Toronto Queen’s street store until about the mid-1970s. The factory produced a variety of candy, including chocolate bars, suckers, caramels, jube-jubes and was known for its high-quality and handmade products. Cottage Sweets was the house-brand choice for all things confectionary. Advertisements for Cottage Sweets filled newspapers during Christmas, Valentine’s Day and of course, Easter. Homemade items were the standard practice, and Eaton’s took pride in their in-house, homemade treats with 12 thousand pounds of delicious treats made daily.
Inside the Candy Factory…
Large copper kettles sat on gas furnaces melting milk and dark chocolate used for various products. Women worked slathering marshmallow paste on grooved roller tables, criss-crossing and cutting the soft marshmallow into squares that would later be rolled in toasted coconut.
The Candy Factory had its own dipping room, which would have been an extremely expensive plant, as the chocolate had to maintain a fluidity to be workable. This meant temperature and humidity had to be absolutely consistent for the employees to dip chocolate. For Chocolate Easter Bunnies and other chocolate animals, 11 pound slabs of milk chocolate were used to fill special alloy moulds that came from New York. The melted chocolate was carefully poured into these moulds and placed in a cooler for 30-40 minutes. Later on, bunnies and chicks would be released from their moulds and placed on a pre-made chocolate base. Further, a hand-trimmer would then remove the excess chocolate on the seam and the chocolate would be packaged in fancy paper straw! Meanwhile, someone would be at the ready to deliver the chocolate goodies to the store’s candy counter shelves.
Cottage Sweets was an extremely popular brand due to the fact it was in-house made with ingredients from all over the world. Cinnamon from Hong Kong, ginger from China, chocolate from West Africa and maple sugar from Quebec.
Pandora Chocolates were another in-house Eaton brand chocolate, made within the Eatonian Candy Kitchens. An advertisement from 1924 described the Easter at Eaton’s Pandora chocolate box as a mauve box with a yellow ribbon. Inside the box were “little bunnies and clucking hens made from toothsome chocolate”. It is crazy to think that a department store would make so many in-house items, especially chocolates and sweets.
In-house items created customer loyalty and brand recognition. Theoretically, one could have shopped entirely at Eaton’s, preparing for their Easter weekend – from baked goods to meal prep, chocolate bunnies, table linens and decor. One stop shopping, what a dream!
As an Easter gift, I have created an 8×10 Eaton’s advertisement you can print and display! Click here to download the file.
Feeling more Eaton’s nostalgia? Click here for Thanksgiving at Eaton’s.
– Alex Inspired
- The Story that Timothy Built – by William Stephenson
- Contacts – Eaton’s in-house publication for employees of Eaton s stores in Winnipeg.
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