Easter is coming! And with it, a new episode of Doctor Who – ‘Legend of the Sea Devils.’ But Easter is also traditionally a season that brings sweet goodness in the form of chocolate eggs. And we’re counting down some of the best Doctor Who Easter eggs ever!
Although the very first Easter eggs were created in the royal court of Versailles, it was in the 1870s that the first Easter egg as we’d recognise it today was created for the British market. At some point during the 20th century, it became popular to create tie-ins with popular TV series, cartoons and movies, with Easter Eggs coming in boxes decorated with the characters. And since the chocolate itself didn’t tend last long, it became increasingly common to package them with some more permanent memento, like a mug.
The world of Doctor Who Easter eggs began in 1982 with Suchard’s cardboard TARDIS
Doctor Who is no stranger to the Easter egg market, with examples appearing as early as the 1980s. Almost a hundred years after the first chocolate egg appeared in British shops, the 1982 Doctor Who egg from Suchard made for an impressive start. It came in a smart looking cardboard TARDIS, complete with little transparent light on top. The decorations also featured drawings of a Dalek and other, more generic, alien monsters around the sides of the Police Box.
The door even opened to reveal the Fifth Doctor himself! Unfortunately, the first of these Doctor Who Easter eggs is most famous for the awkward placement of the Fifth Doctor alongside the blast from the Dalek’s gunstick, which wound up looking a little, well, rude.
As if freedom of movement in the fourth dimension wasn’t enough for Easter Sunday, this egg also came with The Mini Book of Villains. Despite the slightly misleading name, this was actually several sheets of transfers, together with a booklet that you could unfold to create a comic strip of panels to put your characters in. These included the Fifth Doctor, Tegan, Daleks, something that might have been meant to be a Nestene (but probably wasn’t), a reptile man with a laser beam eye, and a generic robot with big clamps for hands.
Suchard also brought out the second of its Doctor Who Easter eggs the following year. The box for ‘Invasion of the Daleks’ might not have had the coolness of the actual TARDIS, but it did fold out to create an entire board game, and came complete with little Daleks to play the game with. Predictably, though, the fact you had to effectively take the box apart to play the game means even fewer of these Doctor Who Easter eggs survive today.
The Whomania of the 00s extended to a dizzying array of high quality Doctor Who Easter eggs
The return of Doctor Who in 2005 was perfectly timed to ride the crest of a merchandising wave. It was a time when it seemed like there were Easter eggs celebrating anything and everything. And after the huge success of that first series, it was inevitable that new Doctor Who Easter eggs were out in time for Easter 2006.
Confectionery company Bon Bon Buddies produced some of the best Doctor Who Easter eggs during the 00s.The inventiveness of the products they packaged it with gave many a Doctor Who fan a thrill on an Easter morning. These included a large egg that came nestled in a wide cappuccino mug decorated in handsome hues of blue and orange, along with images of Daleks and ‘EXTERMINATE’ text. In fact, your writer is still using his today. You could even get a matching bowl, this time containing an entire clutch of smaller chocolate eggs.
These smaller chocolate eggs, closer to the size of regular eggs, also featured in a series of Doctor Who egg cups for you to use again and again. One of these was shaped like Dalek Sec from the then recent epic ‘Army of Ghosts’ / ‘Doomsday,’ while another was the Police Box itself.
But of special note is the double egg cup of 2007. Not only did you get double the chocolate on the day, but the double egg cup was particularly nice to look at, with a Dalek on one side and a Cyberman on the other. (And yes, your writer still has this one too).
The smaller eggs were also useful in being able to scatter into the packaging of almost any Doctor Who product to make it more attractive for the Easter market. A case in point was the TARDIS money box from 2007. Although without doubt the best recreation of the iconic Police Box to ever get the Easter egg treatment, it’s hard not to observe that it’s the same as the regular TARDIS money box, but with some chocolate eggs rolling around loose at the bottom of the plastic packaging.
The Easter mug tradition continued into the Eleventh Doctor era
The humble mug, still with a chocolate egg lodged snugly inside it, remained the reliable heart of Doctor Who Easter eggs for over a decade. Each year the designs were refreshed to highlight the latest monsters, though usually with the Daleks sure to get their eyestalks in the mix. In 2008, the Judoon, the Scarecrows and Dalek Sec graced the mug, while in 2010 it was the turn of Davros, and the 2011 mug highlighted the New Dalek Paradigm and the Weeping Angels. Disappointingly though, the shape and size of the mug itself was revisited twice, each time getting smaller.
But perhaps sensing that fans’ cupboards were by now full to bursting with mugs and egg cups, Bon Bon Buddies began to create new, more unique items to combine their eggs with. These included a TARDIS Puzzle Cube which was essentially a much simplified version of a Rubik’s Cube with pictures from Doctor Who instead of solid colours. Another year featured a clever idea of a little tin box, which opened up into a gameboard that could be used for three different games – perfect for those long trips on the back seat of the car.
2010 saw the introduction of Matt Smith as the Doctor. It also featured a new Easter egg merchandising trend of egg hunt pails. So Doctor Who Easter eggs began to come in small metal buckets decorated with images of Davros swearing revenge, designed for little ones to collect their chocolate eggs in as they ran around on an Easter egg hunt. Although this probably made more sense for other licences like Peppa Pig or Chugginton, it’s hard to see these really tiny little buckets taking advantage of Doctor Who’s wide appeal with fans young and old.
The mid-2010s saw the presents included alongside Doctor Who Easter eggs get weirder…
The 2010s also saw some of the oddest Doctor Who Easter eggs. One was a magnetic sign featuring the Eleventh Doctor and the Daleks that came with smaller magnets with different words, allowing you to spell out your own message to hang on your bedroom door.
This period also saw the rise of an increasing number of sets that had very little connection to Doctor Who except for the logos on the packaging. Sometimes, alongside the chocolate egg, marshmallows and rice bars, there would be some dotted lines for you to cut out (including, one year, a circle that was oddly described as a ‘picture frame.’) But the main targets for these sets were undoubtedly parents who were on a tight budget. So perhaps these sets were doing the best work of all…
The Marks & Spencer Doctor Who Easter egg was an annual tradition for almost a decade
In parallel to Bon Bon Buddies, Marks & Spencer also made their own Dalek Easter egg an annual tradition. The M&S eggs were always high on many fans’ shopping lists each spring, as there was no question that they had the best chocolate of any of the Doctor Who Easter eggs. On the other hand, these tended to be very simple affairs, with a very vaguely Dalek shape printed with a wraparound Dalek image, with perhaps a couple of sheets of stickers inside.
However, in 2006 you even had a choice of two boxes, one disguised as a TARDIS and the other as a Dalek. And blissfully, each contained a sound chip, respectively playing the TARDIS sound effect at you, or screeching “EXTERMINATE!” You could also open the Police Box to reveal the control room in all its coral glory, although you did it by sliding the top half of the box off, which felt like a backward move after the 1982 box had an actual door…
Demand for character-led chocolate eggs dropped as consumers and companies shifted to higher quality chocolates from recognisable brands
Doctor Who Easter eggs began to fade from the market in the mid 2010s. We can’t remember any Peter Capaldi branded Easter eggs at all, and haven’t been able to find any evidence of their existence. While there’s been the occasional item since, it’s tended to be a more generic Dalek design, and this seems to be the result of a shift in the chocolate egg market itself. Officially licenced Easter eggs now focus more closely on those that appeal to small children, like Paw Patrol.
The days of getting an official Twilight egg with Bella and Edward on the box are well and truly over. Even Marvel eggs highlight the more child-friendly, cartoon based versions of the characters rather than featuring the likenesses of Tom Holland or Benedict Cumberbatch. So sadly, for anyone inspired by this article to get Doctor Who Easter eggs this year, you’ll have to look on eBay (and we wouldn’t recommend eating the chocolate.)
Perhaps the market will shift once more and those Easter Sundays of living room floors covered in TARDIS blue packaging squeaking ‘EGGS-TERM-IN-ATE!” will come again.
In the meantime, we still have our mugs…
Doctor Who Thirteenth Doctor scarf – order now from the Lovarzi shop!