Packing the power of Peeps

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pink marshmallow peeps
By Jon Sullivan (PD Photo.org.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Now that Easter is behind us I think it’s safe to discuss polarizing topics in polite company.

There are, in every crowd, your believers and your non-believers. Generally, we co-exist peacefully. Easter, however, often brings out deeper discord.

I am speaking, of course, of Peeps. You either love ’em or you hate ’em.

Of course, hate may be a strong word. Gag, however, is not.

What is it?

I think it’s safe to say, I don’t exactly know what a Peep is.

I am referring, of course, to the sugar encrusted blob of goo that has been appearing in every Easter basket all across the nation for as long as most of us can remember. Are they marshmallow? Candy?

Honestly, my money is on styrofoam, heavily sugared styrofoam. I’m not knocking it. I would eat almost anything if you rolled it in sugar first.

Easter without Peeps is almost unthinkable. How did they gain such a foothold on things?

It is difficult to find anyone who truly LOVES Peeps.

Served stale

At most I have been able to scrape up a few folks who admit they will eat them — but only if they are stale. If your food product tastes BEST served stale, that’s saying something. That something is unkind.

It is actually estimated that up to 1/3 of all Peeps purchased are not eaten but instead used for decorations or for craft projects like dioramas.

My money is also on gap filler, insulation, and base material for Nerf toys.

Packing

Frankly, I feel like Peeps spawn from the same devil’s factory that brings us Circus Peanuts. A strange peachy orange color, much larger than any peanut has a right to be,
Circus Peanuts are another sub-genre of the packing materials masquerading as food market.

Circus Peanuts are, my mother claims, wheel chucks for toy vehicles.

In fact, mom did a little research and sent me the following: They are made from a mixture of sugar, pork gelatin, corn syrup, food coloring, soy protein, artificial flavors, and pectin (a gelling agent extracted from citrus fruits).

They had me at “pork gelatin.”

Weirder still, they are peanut shaped but banana flavored.

What? At least Marshmallow Peeps taste like marshmallow. They aren’t pretending to be marshmallow and then tasting like coffee or clementines.

As for me, I have never cared much for anything “banana” flavored except an actual banana.

Call me crazy but nature already offers such a perfect vehicle for banana flavor, why mess with perfection?

Research again proves that Circus Peanuts date to the 19th century, when they were one of a large variety of unwrapped “penny candy” sold in such retail outlets as five-and-dime stores.

That explains it

The 19th Century also brought us horehound candy, tea berry gum, and actual cocaine in our Coca-Cola. It was a sad time.

Well, all except for that last one. I suspect that was quite popular with some folks actually. In fact, maybe they were drinking THAT when they stumbled upon the recipe for Peeps. Peeps, I learned, were once made in a painstaking process that required 27 hours to create. In the 1950s when everything when automatic, they managed to turn the process into a mere six minutes.

Total Peep domination was sure to follow. I actually applaud the powers that be down at Peep Central. They have managed to market what is basically a glorified marshmallow in an ever increasing array of colors, styles and flavors (Birthday Cake and Sour Melon anyone?).

They have kept a nice low price point marketing a product that is frankly adorable, definitely ubiquitous, and that I truly wish one of MY ancestors would have stumbled upon.

Stale Peeps and Circus Peanuts

There really IS no accounting for taste.

Is it nostalgia?

Indiscriminate palates?

The need to round out the Easter Bunny’s Basket with a bright, colorful ball of sugar covered sugar?

Nonetheless, even to the non-Peep-believers, there is a certain allure. I meant to grab a box. I was going to jam one Peep on top of the cheesecake I baked just to make it more festive. Then we would take the Peep off and throw it away because we are not savages and I am still not entirely sure those things are edible.

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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