David Trinko: Dishing on dining for Easter

Mar. 23—Americans may be spending more money on their Easter dinner, but that doesn't seem to have slowed their interest in a tableful of good eats.

A survey by Advantage Solutions revealed that 93% of Americans will spend the same or more on their Easter dinner than they did a year ago. In fact, 33% of respondents said they intended to spend "much more" on their meals.

That's no surprise to me. My wife and I have played host to my family's traditional Easter dinner for about 15 years. It's just one of those meals that you can't under-deliver.

We have a high standard to live up to, as ours is a successor to my maternal grandmother's annual Easter dinner. While we routinely top 30 people crammed into my house, that's nothing compared to my grandma's, who somehow found a way to host nearly twice that many people in a fairly small house in the Chicago suburbs.

We always had enough ham, sweet potatoes and vegetables to enjoy, with a family tradition of serving a dense poundcake shaped like a lamb afterward. (In fact, sometimes it was so much afterward that my grandma would beg people to eat a piece as they tried to leave, as we'd forget about it and over-indulge in dinner.)

Nowadays, we generally provide the ham, roast beef and potatoes, but each of my siblings' families generally bring a side dish. Being from a big family that occasionally brings in a few other people who don't have plans, that means we have plenty of good food to go around.

I'm not exactly inviting you to my house for dinner, though. You'll have to find your own.

As it turns out, Ruler Foods, which has two locations in Lima, put together Easter meal bundles this year, a curated shopping list "made to bring 'everybunny' together this year," as its press release says. That includes a savory dinner for less than $25 that serves eight people, including an 8.8-pound ham, green beans, au gratin potatoes, macaroni and cheese, rolls and a fruit pie.

I'm not sure that's quite going to feed a family full of people with Trinko blood. Doing that economically involves keeping an eye open for deals. My wife learned that ham is plentiful and cheapest about two weeks before Easter, so we picked up a pair of them last weekend to feed my oversized extended family.

The real challenge in our house is planning ahead enough for the candy. Peeps are rather popular with my family, but the bulk of them (including my wife) prefer them a bit stale. I've learned over the years this is either delicious to you, or you're totally disgusted by my family at this point. We're OK with that. We bought our marshmallow bunnies and chicks about a month ago and poked the packages so a little fresh air could take out the fluffiness and replace it with a snap.

CandyStore.com ranked Peeps as the third-worst Easter candy, behind the Easter candy corn, or "Bunny Corn," as some people call it, and the Cadbury Creme Egg. Those of us of a certain vintage remember thinking the Cadbury Creme Egg was the epitome of fine Easter dining, thanks to great marketing involving a rabbit that appeared to be laying eggs.

In case you're interested, that same survey ranked Cadbury Mini Eggs as the best candy this year and last year for those crunchy shells and chocolate inside.

People are still devoted to buying candy for the holiday, with 91% planning to spend the same or more for candy, according to that Advantage Solutions survey. About a third of people buy that candy one to three days before Easter, and roughly another third buy it three to seven days before the holiday. In fact, it reports 13% of people shop for Easter candy on that Sunday. Clearly those people don't know about the joys of a properly-aged Peep.

Whatever your Easter dinner traditions might be, I hope you spend it with your family and pass the traditions on for another generation or two.


See past columns by David Trinko at LimaOhio.com/tag/trinko.

David Trinko is editor of The Lima News. Reach him at 567-242-0467, by email at dtrinko@limanews.com or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.