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Watch this audio slideshow of how traditional Icelandic Easter eggs are made at the chocolate factory Nói Síríus in Reykjavík. The eggs are made of a shell of creamy chocolate, which is decorated with flowers and chicks and filled with candy.
Narrated by Eygló S. Arnarsdóttir, photos by Páll Kjartansson.
Chocolate Easter eggs have become inseparable from the image of Easter in Iceland. Almost every child in Iceland—and most grown-ups—enjoys a chocolate egg or two at this time of year.
But how are they made?
The IR crew visited the chocolate factory Nói Síríus in Reykjavík in 2007 to learn how these delicious eggs come into existence.
It all begins in the basement of the factory where the ingredients are crushed and mixed. Melted chocolate is then pumped to different work stations through heated pipes, as food scientist Kristrún Hrólfsdóttir explained.
Melted chocolate is pumped out of a machine and into plastic moulds. Identical moulds are placed on top and then the moulds are shaken so the chocolate is distributed evenly and forms a hollow shell.
The eggs are put onto a conveyor belt and go through a cooler to make the shell hard. The top mould is removed and holes are made to make room for candy.
Thereafter the conveyor belt brings the eggs to a different room where they are filled with candy, decorated, wrapped in plastic and packed into cardboard boxes, all by hand.
According to marketing director at Nói Síríus, Gunnar B. Sigurgeirsson, the Easter egg production begins as soon as the production of assorted chocolates is finished after Christmas.
Nói Síríus produces more than one Easter egg for every Icelander—over 300,000 eggs—and every employee at the factory is involved in the production at some stage.
Chocolate Easter eggs are known in other countries, but each country has its own tradition. In Iceland, a little note with a saying is put into each egg. It has become a family tradition to discuss and interpret the sayings.
The eggs come in different shapes and sizes, from size 0 to size 7. Chocolate eggs from Nói Síríus are also available in supersize, or shaped as a heart or a bowl, which people can order directly from the company.
Easter eggs in sizes 1 and 2 are now available in Whole Foods Market in the US. Chocolate from Nói Síríus has been sold there for awhile, which is part of a marketing campaign for Icelandic food products abroad.
Eggs first became a symbol for Easter in the Middle Ages when landowners had to pay eggs in taxes around Easter. Eggs were considered particularly tasty in spring.
Nói Síríus began producing chocolate eggs for Easter in the 1930s and is the market leader in Iceland. But the competition is tough and Sigurgeirsson said the eggs are under constant development and quality control so they will remain popular.
People use Easter eggs to decorate along with other symbols of Easter, such as branches, chicks or daffodils, anything green or yellow which symbolizes spring.
The last few pictures were taken in Runni – Stúdíóblóm in Reykjavík.