With Easter coming up, I thought it would be interesting to share some of the Finnish Easter traditions. Because the Finnish have a serious love for chocolate and I have a serious love for chocolate, I thought the chocolate Easter eggs would be a great place to start. Anything written in italics is my little side note and should not be taken too seriously.
Finland has the types of Easter eggs I am used to seeing (shaped, hollow with a chocolate shell). It also has a very special kind of Easter egg that will blow any chocolate lover’s mind. Strictly speaking, it’s not chocolate (it is even lactose free), it’s nougat… like a solid Nutella in an actual egg shell.
This is an egg made by the Fazer Company and called the “Mignon Egg”. According to the egg packaging in 1896 Mr Karl Fazer himself brought the idea of the Mignon Egg from Germany to Finland. It was Fazer’s second product ever and they are still going strong today. Very Finnish thinking that: If it worked/sold 100 years ago, it will work/sell today.
While the fact that it is a solid chunk of nougat is quite overwhelming, what makes it totally new for me is that this nougat is inside a real egg shell. To get to the nougat you have to break the egg like you would a boiled egg. In South Africa we have Easter eggs that looks very similar to this but they are hollow chocolate and have a white sugar coating that makes them look exactly like one of these Fazer eggs from the outside. Thinking that the real eggshell was a sugar coating, I was about to bite into it when my Finnish housemate saved the day and showed me how to crack and peel off the shell.
The manufacturing process seems pretty elaborate too. The packaging also tells this story. Each egg is hand-made and should weigh exactly 52 grams. The 2.5 million egg shells used for the Mignon eggs are apparently carefully selected, drilled, emptied, washed, rinsed and dried. Then the eggshells are filled with the nougat and chilled. There are mostly grannies in the pictures that explain the manufacturing process so, I think that makes for an interesting business model too. One the major concerns in Finland right now is that it is an aging population: through taxation, the fewer young have to support the many older people (most of whom get pensions and health benefits from the government). Maybe if they made more Fazer eggs all year round they would employ more grannies and help solve this national crisis.
The egg was an explosion of chocolate-esque heaven and should be tried by everyone who is ever in Finland at Easter time. Get it while you can, because after Easter, once they sell out of the shops, they are finished until next year when the grannies are put back to work again!