40 Years of Goodness: Mississippi church’s handmade chocolate eggs are a sweet tradition
Published 7:45 am Tuesday, April 4, 2023
Every spring, as the calendar approaches Easter, the fellowship hall at Gibson Memorial United Methodist Church transforms into a chocolate factory. And while the church will never rival Hershey’s, the Mars Candy Co. or Elmer Candy Corp. for supremacy in the holiday chocolate market, the chocolate-coated Easter eggs church members make annually to raise money for the church’s local missions are an anticipated and favorite holiday treat for many in the community.
Since Gibson Memorial began making the eggs as a fundraiser 40 years ago, church member Mary Agnes Westbrook estimated the church has made about 100,000 eggs in assorted flavors — almond, vanilla, chocolate, peanut butter, peanut butter with Butterfinger, raspberry, maple nut, coconut and almond coconut. Raspberry is a new flavor.
This year, church members will make 1,469 eggs that sell for $3 each.
“Peanut butter is the biggest seller,” Westbrook said. “And peanut butter-Butterfinger; we put crushed Butterfinger in the egg. A lot of people like that. Those two are about half of what we do.”
Westbrook said the idea for the eggs came from the church’s organist when Gibson Memorial was on Washington Street.
“He had a sister who lived in West Virginia, and they did it up there,” she said. “She sent the information and we decided to try it.”
The process of making the eggs is completed in several steps. The thick filling for the eggs is mixed in the fellowship hall kitchen and moved to a crew of church members, who roll it into the shape of an egg. Fondant, a rich, sweet type of icing that is normally used for sculpting and icing cakes, is used as the filling. The filling is molded by hand and placed on paper-covered tables to wait to be dipped in chocolate. Once the egg is dipped in the chocolate, it is decorated with leaves and a flower, placed in its own box and put with other eggs stacked according to flavor.
The process takes on an assembly line-type appearance as the eggs are laid out, dipped and decorated. The men of the church help in many ways during the entire process.
“We could not do it without the men,” church member Nancy Ballard said.
“I plan my trip around the Easter eggs. That just shows you how much fun this is,” Westbrook said. “We have people who come from another state to make eggs.”
Eggs can be ordered by calling 601-636-2605 or 601-415-4428, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We’ll be selling them until they’re gone, so if someone has a special flavor, they’d better get it,” Westbrook said. “We already have 400-500 orders.”