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We help to crack race against time to feed nation's Easter egg craving

FOR some, it's not so much a food as a drug. For others, according to several studies, it's more important than sex.

But whatever its importance in your life, chocolate is set to be on the menu for every child and most adults this weekend.

Sunday marks the culmination of one of the busiest periods in the year for chocolatiers. And as workers added the final touches to their Easter creations, the Herald lent a hand with last-minute preparations at the Butlers Chocolate Factory.

The chocolate manufacturer is renowned worldwide for its products -- but few realise the tremendous effort that goes into the spring celebration.


"A whole year's work goes into Easter, as soon as one Easter is finished we start preparing the next one straight away," Butlers' spokeswoman Aisling Walsh told the Herald.

"Two weeks after this Easter is over, we will all sit down and review how we did, because we will be working on the next one for 12 months."

Staff members are not allowed to take annual leave around Easter and Christmas because the factory gets so busy -- but there is little evidence of added pressure at the north Dublin factory.

More than 250 staff members put in extra hours to ensure there will be enough praline eggs and sweetheart chocolate bunnies left on the shelves on Sunday for last-minute buyers.

The fact that Easter is late this year was gave workers extra time to prepare.

"It's actually going quite well and quite smoothly," Ms Walsh said.

" I suppose we have been doing it a long time, so we can estimate accurately what we will need.

"Late Easters are usually good because people have had enough time to get their chocolate-appetites back from Christmas, Valentine's Day and Mother's Day."

Ms Walsh added: "Everybody who works here is a chocoholic. We all enjoy it and never tire of it, even though we can eat as much as we want to day after day," she said.


"I'm here nearly 20 years -- a lot of us would have grown up with Butlers and we love it. Irish people have a very a sweet tooth."

She says that Butlers has been here nearly 80 years and is the longest of the independent chocolate producers.

"Tastes have changed, but everyone still has their favourite."

She confesses to having a preference for the butter-praline.

"Irish people have developed a greater awareness for a more continental style chocolate -- I suppose it's like wine, people become more discerning. Dark chocolate is growing, white chocolate has a loyal following -- but you still cannot beat milk in popularity, it's still number one."