Auricular amputations of confectionery rabbits

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters

Imagine a bright Easter Sunday, back in the mid-1950s. The sun is shining, church bells are ringing, cherry trees blooming, and my sister Cathy and I are decked out in our brand new pink Easter outfits, including matching coats and bonnets.  We have been invited out to lunch at the home of family  friends after Easter Sunday Mass.

We enjoy a delicious lunch of baked ham, deviled eggs, potato salad and – our favourite! – traditional Easter paska, after which the children are dismissed from the table to play while the parents finish their coffee. And that’s when things suddenly go sideways. . .         .      


For some reason, while all the other kids are playing elsewhere in the house, I find myself playing alone in the bedroom of Terry, one of the family’s children.

Terry’s goodies from that morning’s Easter Bunny delivery are spread out over her bed. But the masterpiece is a colourful straw basket filled with a crinkly pastel cellophane nest, surrounding at least half a dozen milk chocolate bunnies standing upright and shiny.

I really, really want to eat one of those beautiful big bunnies. Each one is so perfectly glossy. I can almost taste that creamy deliciousness. But even at my young age, I know that if I eat a whole bunny, the resulting gap in the tightly packed basket will be immediately noticed, and I’ll get into big trouble.

Anxious to avoid trouble, I come up with what seems at the time to be a good idea if you’re four years old:   I will simply eat the ears off each bunny!

Of course, the minute Terry returns to her bedroom, she immediately sees the horrifying carnage that has taken place in the basket. She runs wailing to her parents, the culprit (me!) is quickly identified (perhaps by the chocolate smears around my mouth) and sure enough, I DO get into big trouble as I’m perp-walked in disgrace by my embarrassed parents down the driveway for the ride home .

Over the years, at every Easter since then, repeating the story of my ill-fated chocolate bunny-swiping strategy became a hilarious family tradition.

And decades later when I had my own children, they too loved hearing that story each year over our own Easter ham about that long-ago day when their Mummy got into trouble for eating all those bunny ears.

One Easter Sunday after hearing my story yet again, my son Ben (who had clearly spent some time figuring out how to get away with eating chocolate bunny parts that don’t belong to him) piped up:

“Mum! You should have eaten the FEET off each bunny instead!”

Oh, if only I had been that smart!  It turns out that my urge to start with the ears, however, is common. We even have a real study led by real doctors and published in a real medical journal that says so.(1)

This delightful seasonal study is all about auricular* amputations of confectionery rabbits.  Seriously.

The lead author is Dr. Kathleen Yaremchuk at the Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery in Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital. She and her team at HFH reported this:

     “A statistically significant increase in mention of rabbit auricular amputations occurred during the spring. Mapping techniques showed the annual peak incidence to be near Easter for each year studied.

“Human adults and children appear to be wholly responsible for the reports of rabbit auricular amputations.”


  1.  Kathleen Yaremchuk et al. “Seasonality of Auricular Amputations in Rabbits.”  The Laryngoscope. March 2017.

♥  ♥  ♥

This post was originally published here on April 21, 2019.


*auricular =  related to the ear

Happy Easter, dear readers!


Q: What is your position on eating the bunny ears first?

NOTE FROM CAROLYN:   Read Chapter 1 of my book, A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease  (Johns Hopkins University Press). Ask for this book at your local library or favourite bookshop (please support your independent neighbourhood booksellers!) or order it online (paperback, hardcover or e-book) at Amazon  or order it directly from my publisher, Johns Hopkins University Press (use their code HTWN to save 30% off the list price).


See also:

When eating chocolate is the only right thing to do!

Chocolate-covered bacon, and other ways to alter your brain chemistry

Is chocolate good for women’s heart health?

My favourite recipe for heart-healthy chocolate fudge brownies

16 thoughts on “Auricular amputations of confectionery rabbits

  1. What a wonderful story and memory Carolyn!! Adorable picture!

    Growing up, it was definitely the ears for me, and sometimes more like the whole head at once!

    It brings back a funny memory for me. . . one year I ‘may’ have snuck into my young daughter’s Easter stash thinking that she wouldn’t notice :-).

    A little while later I went to give her a hug and she said “Mom, why do you smell like chocolate?” – busted! She then had to check to make sure no other bits were missing.

    This is the first year I haven’t had any Easter chocolate. I miss it but once I start, it will be hard to stop.

    Hope you had a nice Easter weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my! Kathleen, I laughed out loud at that story of you getting busted with chocolate on your breath!

      And the whole head in one bite!? Reminds me of yesterday’s Easter dinner with my 2-year old grandson Zachary and his first ever chocolate bunny.

      After dinnertime was over, his Mum put a little chocolate bunny on his highchair tray, still loosely wrapped in colourful foil. He peeled off the foil, and could have just played with that for the rest of the evening! Then he started bouncing and jumping the “bunny” up and down on his tray as if it were a toy bunny – no clue yet that this was even edible! We waited for him to smell it or bite it, but he was having fun just walking it back and forth across the tray. Finally his Mum broke off a piece of bunny ear and handed it to him to see if he’d eat it. Still no reaction – until the rest of us, with cameras ready, finally started asking him if he wanted to take a BITE! He understood that part, and his eyes widened with shocked surprise after that first bite!

      There was no turning back once those ears disappeared!

      Take care, stay safe. . . 🙂 🐇 🐣


  2. Hi Carolyn,
    My sister and I would get this huge basket that my mom and grandma fixed. My mom had name tags over the sides as to which was which, and I would bite the feet off of my sister’s bunnies! She wasn’t really a chocolate lover.

    This really brought back fond memories of my childhood.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Easter Funnies.
    When your post showed up in my email, the only part that was visible was “Auricular Amputations”.

    Being of a certain age, from a time when the heart’s upper chambers were called auricles instead of atrias, I immediately assumed this was an article about some bizarre new surgical heart procedure.

    Glad it only applied to chocolate bunny ears!


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Blessed Easter everyone. I’m chomping at the bit, not for chocolate.

    Nine years ago, soon, I suffered from Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy (Broken 💔 Heart Syndrome)…no clogged arteries, arrhythmia ending up w/ major medical mistakes, a triple bypass, coding three times,a defibrillator, and 2.5 years of therapies.

    Why is it just NOW, this month, Heart Advisor has published about this and its brain connection?

    Rebel sisters!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Roslyn – You have been through a lot in the past nine years! Medicine is often distressingly slow between research and ultimate real-world bedside care – especially for conditions like Takotsubo which for years was considered a mild condition – not even a heart attack. Slowly this was challenged and changed.

      I’m just writing a new post now on emerging research that asks why it takes an average of 17 years (!) for published research to trickle down to create evidence-based practice for real patients.

      I haven’t read this month’s Heart Advisor yet but generally, I’ve learned to stop asking WHY SO LONG (which is simply crazy-making) and instead to feel relief that we are suddenly/finally seeing some progress when we do see it.

      Take care, stay safe. . . ♥


        1. Twas always thus! The history of cardiac research was for decades based on (white middle-aged) men – with women either not included, or included in such statistically insignificant numbers that their results were not analyzed in sex-specific ways. Even the lab animals used in heart studies were male animals. This is concerning for all of us because women are not just small men. What works in (white middle-aged) men may or may not work the same in women (or in racialized or ethnic communities).

          Major research funders now require researchers to demonstrate inclusion of women – yet many researchers somehow still drag their feet on this requirement.

          A dreadful example, which I wrote about here, was the 2019 ISCHEMIA study. When the Washington Post ran headlines on the results of this 5,000 person/$100 million heart study which included fewer than 23% females (“Stents and Bypass Surgery are No More Effective Than Drugs”) So I wrote to the WP editor with this corrected title: “Stents and Bypass Surgery are No More Effective Than Drugs FOR MEN! Every study that fails to include adequate female representation should be similarly publicly corrected.

          And you can be sure that every time I write about an emerging study focusing on women’s experience of heart disease, I hear from male readers asking “But what about the MEN?!” To which my feisty pal Laura Haywood Cory (who survived a SCAD heart attack at age 40) responds: “Honey, it’s ALWAYS about the men!”

          Take care, and stay safe. . . ♥


    2. Oh Roslyn. . . I count my blessings that my episode of TakoTsubo Cardiomyopathy did not end up like yours. Only one medical mistake when they gave me nitroglycerin for chest pain (which is never supposed to be given to patients with obstructive HCM).

      My chest pain got worse and my BP dropped and had to have IVs run wide open to get me stable. Not nearly what you went through.

      I am glad to say, that the newer terminology is Stress Cardiomyopathy. Mine was caused by 2 weeks of albuterol nebs for asthma, and had nothing to do with a “broken heart” or a Japanese octopus trap!

      Hope you have recovered. Blessings!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Such a frightening experience! It turns out that repeated usage of albuterol inhalers has been linked to stress cardiomyopathy (I agree – “Takotsubo” is a mouthful and not even accurately descriptive!)

        This 2014 case study, for example, reports on “a 78-year-old woman who presented to the Emergency Department with chest pain (10 out of 10, not helped by analgesics) and shortness of breath that began 2 days before. She had repeatedly used albuterol several times, and at least 4 times in 12 hours preceding the Emergency visit. Patient was diagnosed with Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, supported by an acute presentation and ECG consistent with acute myocardial infarction, as well as the findings of ‘apical ballooning’ of the left ventricle.”

        Take care, stay safe . . . ♥


    3. To Roslyn – Wow!! I too had a “broken heart” with two stents put in. Now having trouble with irregular heart rhythm. I am wondering where to find the article you spoke about. Blessings

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh this column is soooo good! Love the picture of you and Cathy. Adorable as always!
    Happy Easter dear friend.👩‍❤️‍💋‍👩🍫

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good morning Kit – thanks for your lovely message! That picture of us in our matching pink coats and Easter bonnets is indeed a classic, I must say!! Our next-door neighbour on Pleasant Avenue (yes! – that’s where we lived!) was a dressmaker and each spring she sewed our lovely new outfits for Easter Sunday. Cathy and I were a year apart but Mum often dressed us in matching outfits!

      Happy Easter to you and your family ♥


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