Okay, I know, I know. Straight sugar… uhg! But so cute and CHEAP to decorate with. I usually get a few packages of the little guys and use them, decorated hard boiled eggs and Jelly-bellies to perk up the dessert area for Easter. This year what do I spy on my perusal of ingredients: they have
finally labeled that they are gluten free. (If you are avoiding dairy, watch out for the cocoa coated peeps, as they contain milk.)
Peeps are generally considered harmless as long as one is not a sugared-up four-year-old, but their crunchy-coated marshmallow hearts inspire deep-seeded loyalty or disgust. You either love them or hate them. Are they a decorating tool or an object for abuse? Do you like them fresh or stale?
Maybe it’s the pure sugar rush that ensues five seconds after you pop a Peep in your mouth. Some folks find it blissful; others shudder at the mere thought.. As a kid, I blissed out every Easter on a squat chorus line of yellow marshmallow chicks, now available to a new generation of candy fiends in a variety of neon colors (lime green bunnies, turquoise chickies — the mind and stomach reel). In my misguided youth I could eat a whole package of them at a sitting, deftly picking shreds of Easter grass from their sticky sides, though I was so charmed by their chickie shape that on occasion I made them into toys, poking pipe-cleaner legs into their undersides and propping them on my bookshelf. I conducted scientific taste-tests on the relative qualities of peepy marshmallow over time: How hard would they get after a week? Three weeks? If you waited until Thanksgiving?
I am a bit of a Peep traditionalist. I really don’t want any colors but pink bunnies and yellow chickies. White can be acceptable for the chickies OR bunnies, but no blue, purple or green. A couple of years ago a certain store that shall remain nameless had peeps in their theme color: RED. I was appalled! Have you ever seen a red Peep? There were rows and rows of red chickies. It was a disturbing sight, let me tell you. I went to three stores before finding the colors I was looking for, all the while muttering over and over “Pink bunnies, yellow chickies.” It’s was a dark day…
This year, I have my Peep stash all set. The beautiful thing is that my kids don’t really care to eat too many Peeps, but they do think they are cute. Usually one or two get eaten up, and then they save a couple for cocoa. Nothing like having a bunny floating in your hot chocolate! The rest are packaged up for their aunt who likes to age the Peeps to a nice stale chewieness.
These innocent-looking creatures — the chick-shaped Peeps in particular — have become an icon of American pop culture. People don’t just eat Peeps. They take pictures of them. They make crafts with them. They write songs about them. They put them on wreaths. They put them on pizza. They create parody porn web sites for them. They are photographed before the Moulin Rouge. Some devote countless hours to Peep research, testing the effects of everything from heat to liquid nitrogen on the hardy little chickies. And you thought you had too much time on your hands.
What is it about Peeps that inspires such passion? Is it their winsome expressions? Maybe. But hollow chocolate rabbits are cute, too, and nobody writes loving odes to them. (Edit: My friend, Brad, reminded me there IS a song about the chocolate bunny, “the Bunny Song” of Veggie Tales fame. How could I have forgotten? Of course, it is sung by a giant zucchini, so what do you expect…hee, hee!) Is it their long-standing association with Easter? The Just Born company has been putting peeps in Easter baskets since 1953, but Cadbury eggs have the holiday-icon thing going on too and nobody builds little dioramas for them to live in. For me, it’s their kitschy-cuteness and their squishy little faces. What about you?
The official Peep site, where you can find recipes, crafts, history, and sign up for the Peep fan club.
Peeps in Science:
Peep research: Their site is not for the faint of heart as it shows perfectly innocent peeps being forced to endure such traumatic experimentation as smoking, consuming alcohol, being placed into a vacuum, and testing of Peep fear responses.
Peep Research: A study of small fluffy creatures and library usage: Many have used Peeps for reasearch, but how well suited are Peeps to conduct research themselves?
Peeps in Hollywood:
Monday, March 17, 2008