Peeps — love ‘em or loathe ’em?
I happen to have not just one sweet tooth, but a lot of sweet teeth. But Peeps ... even I can’t eat them. I’m not sure if it’s the overwhelming sugar rush, the graininess on my tongue from the coating vs. the light and airy texture I expect from a marshmallow, or the shock of the fluorescent colors and whatever remnants of neon might make them shine as they do. Or maybe it’s just that they’re too cute to annihilate. But no matter what the reason, just think of it as more Peeps for the rest of you.
The Ann Arbor News used to hold an annual competition to use Peeps in a diorama. Some winning themes included “The Peepular Vote,” with Peeps lining up at the precinct on Election Day; “The Village Peeps” impersonating the Village People; and “Give Peeps a Chance,” with a collection of bunnies and chicks holding signs at a sit-in. A friend of mine once told me that he always thought of entering with a Seder scene: Peeps-over instead of Passover, perhaps? If I were to make one, I might create a mini Peeps-a parlor, serving cheese and Peep-aroni pizzas.
The Washington Post is currently running its eighth annual diorama contest; in past years, Peeps have been dressed up, dressed down, and presented as everything from the Pope to the minions from Despicable Me. A search on Pinterest brings up images of a little pink Peep perched atop the rim of a cocktail glass, Peeps driving Twinkie-mobiles (with pretzels for steering wheels and halved Oreos for tires), a beribboned yellow Peeps wreath decorating a front door, Peeps and jelly beans used in clear vases in place of colored glass marbles, Peeps looking spiffy in chocolate tuxedos, and much, much more. It would seem I’m not the only one who thinks the candies are toys and playthings rather than food.
But for those of you who like to eat the little guys, for a limited time Dunkin Donuts is offering Spring-colored pink and green glazed doughnuts topped with Peeps; they’re vibrant and colorful, and admittedly very festive looking. The Today Show’s website presents an array of ideas on its food page, everything from Peeps kabobs, threading fruit and Peeps alternately, to dipped Peeps from chocolatier Jacques Torres. There are also suggestions to melt them, but I wouldn’t have the heart to do that; as I said above, they’re just too cute to harm. And frankly, a melted Peep is just not an attractive, enticing sight. They’re bright and colorful accents, but I’m not sure they quite make an ingredient.
The Peeps website — an eye-catching place if ever there were one — tells you how to make Peepshi, wrapping Peeps in fruit rolls to make sushi-like treats. It offers Peeps as colorful dunkers for chocolate fondue. And then, of course, there are the requisite cupcakes onto which Peeps are carefully placed. The site asks if I knew that, “on average, 5.5 million Peeps are born each day?” I had no idea. But given how many “recipeeps” they’re used in -- beyond just the Peeps that are eaten “as is” — I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise.
It simply wouldn’t be Easter without Peeps, even if they’re the one candy I won’t eat. Although Peeps are available year-round now for different holidays, they’re still, for me, synonymous with this time of year. I expect to see them lining store shelves the day after Valentine’s Day, bringing colorful hope that Spring just may arrive. Much as the holiday season — from a secular point of view, at least — includes watching Easter Parade and decorating eggs, buying pretty new dresses for little girls and visiting the Easter Bunny at the mall, Peeps are simply a requisite part of the festivities. I would miss them if they weren’t here.
But when it comes to eating Peeps, I just can’t do it. You are welcome to my share.
I’ll take the jelly beans.