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How Switzerland's gold chocolate Easter bunny took over the world

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
How Switzerland's gold chocolate Easter bunny took over the world
Lindt's Easter bunnies have reproduced in a rabbit-like fashion. Image by Myléne from Pixabay

Just like the Swiss army knife, Rivella, and LSD, the iconic Easter gold chocolate bunny was invented in Switzerland — and has enjoyed global success.


It wouldn’t be Easter in Switzerland without chocolate bunnies wrapped in gold foil that are on sale in all supermarkets and many other shops as well.

But have you ever wondered how the bunny — who is a septuagenarian rabbit now — came to be?

The answer comes from Lindt & Sprüngli company itself (commonly known just as 'Lindt').  

The biography: short and sweet

As the company explains it, the first bunny was ‘born’ in 1952.

The story goes that one spring morning, a Lindt chocolate maker was watching a small bunny in his garden, which quickly disappeared into the bushes.

That gave him a brilliant idea: to craft a bunny from the milk chocolate, wrap it in a golden foil, and tie a golden bell on a red ribbon around its neck, so it would be traceable in the bushes.

And the rest, as the saying goes, is history.

READ ALSO: 12 life-changing inventions you didn’t know were Swiss 

From one, many

In a true rabbit-like fashion, that first bunny started reproducing — so much so, that today 160 million of its offspring are sold around the world.

That is a lot of bunnies: if you line up every one sold in a year, the queue would stretch roughly over 9,800 km – more than the distance from the company's headquarters in Kilchberg (Zurich), Switzerland, all the way to San Diego, California.

Not only that, but some bunnies are heftier than others: the smallest weighs 10g, followed by 50g, 100g, 200g, 500g — all the way up to a giant hare weighing in at 1kg.

The bigger ones are “lovingly hand-wrapped and then polished by hand with a soft glove to make sure that each Bunny's golden coat shines,” the company says.


Hopping mad

However, the iconic Swiss bunny has faced some legal challenges over the years, but has come out victorious.

In 2018, for instance, German chocolate manufacturer, Heilemann, started to sell its own version of Easter bunnies in gold wrapping.

Lindt took its rival to court, but the first decision was in Heilemann's favour.

Lindt appealed and the case with the Federal Court of Justice, Germany's highest court of civil and criminal jurisdiction, which ultimately ruled that the golden shade of the wrapping used by Lindt for its Easter bunnies has trademark protection.


Battle of the bunnies: Lindt vs Lidl

Another legal battle pitied the Swiss manufacturer against the local branch of budget supermarket chain Lidl over the latter’s similar-looking Easter bunnies.

Here too, the initial ruling was in Lidl’s favour.

However, Switzerland's highest court overturned the decision in 2022, finding that Lidl's bunnies posed "a risk of confusion, even if the two products present certain differences".

"Given the overall impression produced, Lidl's bunnies arouse obvious associations with the shape of Lindt's," the federal court said. "In the public mind, they cannot be distinguished."

It also ordered the retailer to stop selling its version of the bunny and to destroy all its remaining stock.

It is therefore fair to say that for Lindt, the revenge was sweet.

READ ALSO: Swiss court backs Lindt in chocolate bunny bust-up with Lidl supermarket


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