9. April 2004, Swissinfo/NZZ
Cult gold bunny rings in Easter
Easter in Switzerland is a time when one rabbit in particular seems to steal the show - a gold, chocolate rabbit that has even hopped onto four wheels.
The gold bunny from Swiss chocolate maker Lindt & Sprüngli has indeed become something of an institution.
In the weeks before Easter, it has toured shopping centres, has been the centre of a competition run by the tabloid newspaper "Blick" and has even been the inspiration for a Smart car.
"The gold bunny really is a cult object and I can only say it has a golden future," Uwe Sommer, Lindt & Sprüngli's head of marketing and sales, told swissinfo at the company's headquarters in Kilchberg near Zurich.
Lindt & Sprüngli, renowned worldwide for its premium chocolate, admits that this particular member of the "leporidae" family is not exactly the cheapest, but the sales figures speak for themselves.
"In the chocolate industry you don't publish data, but it's not a big secret that in Switzerland alone, which has a population of seven million people, we sell almost three million gold bunnies," he said.
The story of Lindt's rabbit goes back more than 50 years to one fine March morning when the son of one of the company's master chocolate makers spied a rabbit down his snow-covered garden.
"The boy was totally excited and went closer and closer to the bunny but then it ran away," said Sommer.
"The boy cried and was very disappointed. Because of his son's emotion, the father said to himself that he had to make a bunny out of chocolate, similar to the one seen in the garden," he added.
And just to make sure that the rabbit did not go missing, the father had the idea of putting a bell around its neck.
Breeding like rabbits
The idea took off and now the Lindt & Sprüngli bunny is breeding like only rabbits know how.
There's a mini rabbit, a 50 gram, 100 gram and 200 gram bunny, and the most recent member of the family weighs in at one kilogram. According to Sommer, the one kilogram bunny has already sold out in Switzerland.
"Our Easter bunny is becoming more and more popular, even in the countries where they are not so usual, like the Anglo-Saxon countries."
"The heritage of the gold bunny is obviously in the German-speaking countries like Germany, Austria and Switzerland, but we have a very good track record also of selling the bunny now in other countries," he added.
In Switzerland, the gold bunny is something most people simply cannot or do not want to ignore at Easter.
The only downside for consumers, both young and old, is that the lifespan of the gold bunny is rather short. But then they themselves are to blame.
swissinfo, Robert Brookes in Kilchberg
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