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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

On the Eve of Creme Egg Day

And so, as the circles of the world turn, ever-spinning, never-ending, like an ever-spinning wheel, we reach Creme Egg Day Eve. All over the country, small people, jaded in just six short days with the contents of endless Selection Boxes, put small egg boxes on the window sill and hope that the Creme Egg Goblin will arrive in the night. He won't, of course. Because they actually go on sale tomorrow. And the Creme Egg Goblin is therefore universally despised among the more productive and successful fairy-tale gift-bringers, such as the Tooth Fairy, Father Christmas, and Richard Dawkins. As a result, he spends the rest of the year sulking, and trolling Santa's Elves on Twitter. Or is that Richard Dawkins? Can never get those two separated in my mind, for some reason.

Before we consider the shocking out-of-season-ness of the annual complaints about Easter Eggs arriving on the 1st of January (I swear the complaints get earlier - this year people are complaining before the Creme Eggs are even in the shops - yet it's been 1 January for Creme Eggs for ages), I'd like to consider the logistics of getting Creme (and other chocolate) Eggs to the masses.

See, what those people who only want to see Easter and Creme Eggs in Easter Week itself (and presumably a bit of Holy Week, so people can actually buy them in time for Easter Day) - is that what they are asking for is something that would make those eggs incredibly expensive. If the Chocolate Egg-producing community (for it is a community, famous for its punch evenings and inter-chocolate-factory-worker marriages) were only going to pile eggs into the shops for a week or two before Easter, the following would be required:

A load of lorries that would sit around idle the rest of the year;
A load of land to park said lorries;
A load of lorry-drivers to deliver the eggs very suddenly, and then get laid off or go to work in holiday camps and other summer-season workplaces.

And EITHER - A mass of warehousing, all year round, that starts empty every Easter Day and then fills up until the following Lent
OR - A load of chocolate egg-making machines, that stand around idle all year. For egg-making machines are specialised things. They can't be converted, for example, to make rugby balls, light bulbs or other ovoid products the rest of the year. And that's a lot of expensive plant, occupying a lot of expensive warehouse, gathering expensive dust for most of the year.

So, economically, the chocolate egg people do the most sensible thing. They have about the right number of machines to make eggs all year round. Chocolate is a good keeping product, after all, being largely made of sugar. And they make eggs all year round. Eggs for export can be shipped out early, of course - some sea journeys can take a while, and if you are exporting Easter Eggs to, for example, environmental reporters in the Antarctic, they can take a heck of a while to get there.

But the other eggs pile up, back at base. Occupying warehouse space that could be used for Mars, Dairy Milk or other chocolate-based comestibles. And warehouse space is relatively expensive. So, as soon as possible, to save on rent and make way for Snickers, Turkish Delights, Crunchies or whatever, they really need some way to get them out of the door.

Meanwhile from 25 December onwards, the retailers have an opposite problem. All those shelves that were stuffed with Xmas puds, mince pies, cakes, advocaat, and gift boxes containing a slice of blue cheese, some crackers and a half-bot of port, are now empty. Shoppers don't trust empty shops - they assume the company may be going bust. The shelves must be full, to give an impression of life, vitality and flourishing sales.

So at this point you may be thinking - "If the shop shelves are empty, but the chocolate egg producers are paying for warehouse space for eggs, maybe there's some sensible way out of this? Surely the most sensible thing would be to push all the chocolate eggs into the shops - they'd occupy otherwise idle shelf space, they'd be all shiny, the makers wouldn't have to waste rent on warehouse space, and the retailers might make a few bob from people who suddenly notice the Creme Eggs on the counter where the Ferrero Rochers were? Wouldn't that be a sensible thing to do?"

Have a happy Creme Egg Day.

5 comments :

  1. If you put it like that, I'll bin the complaint I've just written and save a stamp. Now where's that chocolate egg shopping list....?

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  2. I have just been to my local co-op. Crème eggs are on the shelf. In the interests of research, I ask the lady at the check-out when they had arrived. She said that they came in on Christmas Eve, ready for Easter. The Crème Egg Goblin will be busy in South Shields tonight.
    Me? I'm still eating giant Toblerone!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, some people get so over-excited they start celebrating the season early.

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  3. A good point and well made. Thanks for that.

    In a similar vein, I wonder how all the small shops that infested our local town square managed to make enough money to survive until the next Christma market? There can't be that many people wanting wooden christmas decorations in April, so where does all the stick go and how does it reappear the next year? Or maybe the turnover in Advent is sufficient to pay for the logistics off season.

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  4. I would advise Santa Claus to get into the creme egg business. After all, he has in his sleigh the means to distribute large quantities of gifts around the whole world in one night. And presumably he has the warehouse space to store the eggs, otherwise mostly unused in the first few months after Christmas, and naturally cold at the North Pole. Makes good business sense, surely! ;-)

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