It was understood when we were young
that nearly everything in the Easter basket had its
price, with one exception.
My brothers knew I would never trade my panorama sugar egg, not for foil-wrapped chocolate
bunnies, not for jellybeans — even red — and certainly not for all the Peeps in the world.
The hollow sugar egg, a vestige of Victorian Easter traditions, had a peephole at one end.
Inside was a miniature, idyllic scene of frosting flowers and edible rabbits, which was so
compelling that I could not bear to part with it, much less eat it.
The diorama was a glimpse into a blue-sky world, whose tiny inhabitants hunted colored eggs
or enjoyed a springtime picnic. These were the sort of genteel activities I longed for, but
understood were unattainable, in a full-size land populated by siblings who competed to see
who could stuff the most marshmallows into his mouth (or nose) without gagging.
Each year the panorama egg would sit on my bedroom shelf for months. Ours being the sort of
family in which it was a badge of honor to hoard holiday candy (the last surviving trick-or-treat
Snickers was an annual object of awe), it was perhaps inevitable that the egg became the
center of post-Easter dramas, most involving accusations that someone had broken off a leaf
to sneak a quick sugar fix.
Childhood vanishes. Ideally, memories don't. But sugar eggs, once ubiquitous in the seasonal
aisles of drugstores, are harder to find these days. So this year as Easter approached, I
turned to the Internet to see if I could buy a piece of the past to put in my daughters' baskets.
What I learned was that there are plenty of other sugar egg lovers like me, craving the old days.
D. Blümchen and Company, which specializes in traditional ornaments and decorations at
, sells sugar eggs every year because the company's president, Diane Boyce,
remembers them from her own
"I still have one my father bought when I was little, with a scene inside of a little girl in a little
short skirt and a boy running, picking up Easter eggs," Ms. Boyce said.
said, "I remember the scenes being a lot more elaborate when we were little."
"That's because the pictures inside were paper," Ms. Boyce said. "Now the law says sugar
eggs have to be 100 percent edible, but they used to make them with little paper bunnies and
flowers and eggs, front to back, so when you peeped in, it was like a little stage set."
Ms. Boyce, who collects vintage sugar eggs, bought two on eBay. "One came broken, even
though I said, 'Please, please, wrap it carefully,' " she said.
Last week I searched eBay.com and found several vintage eggs for sale. Item 6618192461,
for example, with a scene that featured two boys playing accordions and a gnome petting a
white puppy. (Or was it a lamb? The photo was fuzzy.) It sold for $105.50 after 13 bids.
Oh, never mind. Instead I ordered a set of panorama eggs at Blumchen.com
, along with vintage
wooden Easter figures that Ms. Boyce found on a buying trip in Germany. I could easily see
the $21 Mr. Bunny's Easter Preparations set (consisting of a wooden Mr. Bunny, his balancing
scale and the colored eggs he weighs on it) becoming a non-negotiable item in some lucky
girl's Easter basket.