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March 11, 2009

It's So Wrong

Peeps

It’s So Wrong

By Elaine Viets

Some things go together naturally – ham and eggs, beer and pretzels, peanut butter and jelly.

But a gilded Lenox china Peeps chick for $24.95?

Oh, no. No, no, no. Cheap Peeps in fine china is just so wrong.

But wait! You can spend more! There are Peeps Ornament Trees for $76. And Peeps Tealights for $19.95. That’s more than $165 for upscale Peeps, and you can’t eat a single one.

That’s also more than my father made in a week in 1953, when Peeps first came out from Just Born.

Peeps were deliciously inexpensive. I love the little yellow marshmallow chicks. In their proper place – an Easter basket. As a kid, Peeps were the last Easter candy I ate, when my basket was nearly bare. My final Midwestern spring fling.

There was a ritual to Easter basket eating in the mid-1950s.

First, we kids had to make a big deal out of admiring the basket. Our parents had gone into hock to rot our little teeth, and they needed to hear appreciative cries. Once those were out of the way, the demolition began. Peeps real

We started with the big solid chocolate bunny with the beady icing eyes. The bunny had to be devoured properly:

(A) bite off the ears

(B) chew off the tail

(C) chomp the rest of the rabbit before my brothers ate him.

The solid chocolate rabbit disappeared sometime before breakfast. Then Mom tried to force-feed us sensible oatmeal or stabilizing toast before we resumed our Easter feast. She usually failed. By eight o’clock Easter morning, my three brothers and I were bouncing off the walls on sugar highs.

After the solid chocolate rabbit came the hollow chocolate ones. These rabbits weren’t quite as good, but they were still better than the foil-wrapped milk chocolate eggs, which always tasted tinny.

The colorful Easter eggs dropped in Rit dye were fun to fix, but Dad ate those for lunch for weeks afterward. Nobody sat near his chair without a gas mask by the second week.

By three o’clock Easter Sunday, we kids had eaten our way down to the chocolate-covered marshmallow eggs and chocolate marshmallow bunnies. They were so-so. If Mom bought them on sale – and she usually did – they tasted like chocolate-covered cardboard.

The orange creme and raspberry creme eggs were yucky, but I ate wolfed them down. Otherwise, my brothers would get them.

One year, Mom added spun-sugar eggs with paper tulips and windmills inside. They were a bust. We didn’t want to look at pretty candy. We wanted to eat it.

By Easter night, the only things left in our baskets were empty foil wrappers, jelly beans with fake grass stuck on them, and Peeps.

I’ve heard that Peeps are best when fresh, but I’ve never had a soft, tender Peeps. I preferred the little yellow chicks slightly stale.

About a month after Easter, Mom bought flocks of Peeps on sale. Those leathery suckers were superbly stale and extra sweet. My brothers made whole Peeps armies, and used the cheery chicks for races and fights on the floor. The victor ate the spoils. I never cared for Peeps trimmed with dust bunnies.Lavender-chicks-10ctPeeps now come in pink, green, blue and lavender, but I still prefer the classic yellow Peep. You can’t improve perfection. In 2005, Just Born, the makers of Peeps, created a chocolate egg with a Peeps inside. That was the ultimate excess. Until two years later, when sugar-free Peeps were born. That was a sad development. Peeps are supposed to be gloriously unhealthy.

 Now there is a Lenox Peeps chick surrounded by "sculpted Easter eggs, painted by hand and accented with gold." Gold on a Peeps!

You may learn to live with your childhood. But you cannot gild it.

***

Peep Show:

For a peep at the Lenox Peeps products, go to http://www.lenox.com/index.cfm?spec=specials&cat=peeps

To read more about the real Peeps, check out http://www.marshmallowpeeps.com/

And our favorite TLC peep, Harley Jane Kozak, is at Jungle Red Writers today. Hop on over to that entertaining blog and say hello. www.jungleredwriters.com/

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Comments

Peeps! Don't tell, but for some reason, the Peeps people have me on their mailing list. How it happened, I have no idea.

So every holiday, I get a Fedex box of Peeps.
Turkey-shaped ones. Pink ones for Valentine's day. Particularly weird brown and black vampire-y ones, I think for Halloween. You get the picture.

So thing is, I'm not really a fan. I tried to give them to my producer, but she's a chocolate person.

So--I took them home and froze them. I didn't really want them, but couldn't throw them away, it seemed too wasteful. And you never know when you're going to need them.

So now I have a freezer full of weird Peeps. I never thought I'd tell.

Is someone going to put up the YouTube video of people blowing them up in a microwave? One can only hope.

And yes, dear Harley is visting us at Jungle Red. And--we're giving away copies of her brand new book! (Oooh, and Peeps! What a fine idea.)

Frozen Peeps are the gourmet way of serving the little things! Try them - they're almost as good as being stale. (I can't believe I said that. . .)

I buy 4 boxes of peeps (now that I don't have to fix an Easter Basket) and poke holes in the celophane with a fork. After a week, I open one package & eat them. If they are not stale enough, I rip open a corner of the celophane on the other boxes.

One week later, I eat the second box. Better, but still not quite perfectly stale. So I rip the celophane off the remaining two boxes.

Another week passes. The third box is perfect! So I eat the 4th.

I don't care for peeps. At least not to eat them. But the are sooooo cute and come in so many shapes and colors. My personal Easter favorite has always been the malted milk eggs. Pastel colors, lick them just a little and then use them as lipstick. My sisters and I did these every Easter because it was fun (or was it to irritate my Mother.....now I forget). Anyway, we always got the most beautiful baskets, filled with the fake grass, big SOLID chocolate bunnies, lots of other candy, dyed eggs with our names written with some secret crayon the Easter Bunny had and a small gift too. Then, we went to my maternal Grandparent's house for more! They lived on a farm and my Grandmother dyed her eggs (on behalf of the EB) using natural items. For instance, we had eggs dyed brown from onion skins. The baskets were all hidden and my sisters and I had to find them. Usually the basket hunt was outdoors but since we grew up in Michigan we did have one or two that were held inside due to weather. I wonder why it was that the dyed eggs were just out on our ate the hardboiled, unrefrigerated directly product from there. Took them in our lunches, kept them in desks or lockers all day and we never got sick from them. Makes you wonder, doesn't it? So many memories, but again, I am not a fan of the Peep. I have mentioned before that our local newspaper has an annual contest for Peep Dioramas; here is the link to last years Peep Show:
http://blog.mlive.com/ann_arbor_news_extra/2008/03/peep_contest.html

Oh, wow. I haven't had a Peep in years. Got to hit the store, I think....

Maybe I'm just free-associating here, but might it be possible to use Peeps to make S'mores? I mean, anything's better with chocolate, right?

It's all about chocolate for me, too. Peeps? Bleh. They're adorable, but inedible, as far as I'm concerned.

Red cabbage leaves boiled in water makes a lovely shade of pale blue Easter eggs.

Hank, you can have a Peeps fondue party, and invite people to dunk them in warm chocolate.
Nancy, Peeps s'mores sound kind of cruel, don't they? Squashing little chicks . . .

I have been called many things in my day, but never "our favorite TLC peep" . . . I bow my head. I am honored.

Elaine, go to the dollar store for your peeps. I am sure that the Halloween peeps are on the shelf right now with that six month toughness without the wait.

Peep fondue sounds fun. May have to give it a try.

Oh, I walked on the wild Peep side - the chocolate Halloween ones, the mint-flavored stars at Christmas, and even the lavender bunnies. I'm older and wiser now.

The original yellow peeps are still the best. Perfectly aged (at least several days - they get stale much more quickly these days) and eaten in the correct order: head, tail, middle.

Kathy, ya have to pick off their waxy eyes first. Then they can't see the big teeth coming for their head.

"The colorful Easter eggs dropped in Rit dye were fun to fix, but Dad ate those for lunch for weeks afterward. Nobody sat near his chair without a gas mask by the second week." BRAWAHAHAHA

I'm not much for Peeps. Now, those Cadbury Eggs are down right evil!

Hey - Where's the link to Harley's guest blog?

If chomping off the ears and picking out the eyes is acceptable edible behavior, surely Peep S'mores are not cruel or unusual, right...?

Cyndi - it's at the end of the blog.

And no, I don't blind the peeps first. They're already gone when they get stale. Sheesh.

Peep s'mores? No. The sugar carmelizes/burns and the insides get yuck. Not that I tried it or anything.

I was the only Girl Scout in my troup who hated s'mores. I guess it is UnAmerican or something, but I'm not crazy about chocolate & marshmallow together.

I'll take 'em separately...

S'mores are too messy.

I don't know, Kathy. We wouldn't want PEECA (People for the Ethical Eating of Candy Animals) to come after you for not humanely eating a peep. Those people are crazy.

A few years ago, we found a new use for Peeps. My kid needed to make a diorama for English class, so what to use that will get nice and hard and stay in place for a long time? Why, Peeps of course! Let them sit on the kitchen counter for a while, few hours tops. Cover their bottoms with glue and stick em where you want em. In a day, they're as hard as rock. He did the death scene in Julius Caesar, put red nail polish flowing down the sides of the many stab wounds. Works great, but now I have a problem eating the little buggers. Keep have flashbacks of the rock hard peeps bleeding. We used the bunnies, Romans were tall instead of short and swat like the chicks.

Ya gotta hit Walgreen's the day after Easter and get the little suckers half price! They are already on their way to the perfect 'staleness' too.
My downfall is the Russel Stover chocolate covered orange marshmallow pumpkins at Halloween. yummy!

Rita, my obsession is the Russell Stover's chocolate covered Maple Creme. OMG!!!

Thank goodness they are only out at Easter.

Dot---did you see the Peep dioramas? I bet your son's was amazing.

http://blog.mlive.com/ann_arbor_news_extra/2008/03/peep_contest.html

Dot, I am still laughing at the bleeding Peeps.
And there are Peeps recipes on the Website -- including Peeps fondue.

Peeps do make good S'mores (as do the chocolate marshmallow eggs) . . .
The Post-Dispatch has had diorama contests, with very clever entries . . .
but my favorite is still http://www.lordofthepeeps.com/

Dot, I would have loved the J.C. diorama! -- and it certainly would have earned an A!

Being Canadian sucks! I never even heard of Peeps until a few years ago and unfortunately am not a marshmallow person. Although dipping screaming Peeps in melted chocolate does sound fun and yummy.
Kind of like Mr. Bill Peeps
OH NO

I hated those cheap sugar eggs that were popular when I was a kid. And easter jelly beans with no black licorice flavour, ha how dumb.

Best Easter eggs ever - my ex-husband was German and his Oma used to send a box of German chocolate easter eggs every year. Totally swoonable.

I live near to Just Born candies so any peeps we get are super fresh. I'm just not fond of them. However, I have been known to mail them off to friends who've never tasted a fresh one.

For me it's all about the chocolate--dark chocolate and spice flavored jelly beans not the fruity ones.

Our local newspaper is running a 'decorate your peeps' contest.

Not a fan of licorice jelly beans, either. But chocolate eggs from Germany sound divine.

Brach's has a bag of just black jelly bird eggs each year at Easter. I don't get the regular jelly bird eggs (they are just jelly beans. I don't care for them) but Dear Hubby loves the black ones.

One of my biggest passions is chocolate! I'm the oldest of seven, so, if I didn't get my butt up and to the Easter baskets, there would be six other rug rats scarfing my candy. At my house, you hid it in a special place, only problems is that someone either found it or you forgot about it. Ever see a one hundred old peep or jelly bean. The jelly bean you can still eat, I know, I tried, but the peep is beyond the help of modern medicine.

Ha! Look at the dioramas of the peeps! Too funny!

BTW, great interview and blog Harley--you rock! Good Luck with your new book!

Well, Pam, somebody has to eat those licorice jelly beans. Wish your husband was around when I was trying to pawn them off on my brothers.

The black jelly beans were my Mom's favorite, so we felt honor-bound to save them for her, even though she didn't ask us to. I would eat one occasionally, but I always felt a bit guilty (which of course just made it taste better, as in my father's stories of stolen watermelons). Panda licorice is much better than the jelly beans, though!

My dad's favorite is the black jelly beans too. We would pick them out and give him all to him. Now, I just run out and buy the Jelly Belly ones for him, they're usually softer and chewier.

In 1965 - when my brother was 2 - he found the black jelly beans, crawled into bed with my sleeping mom and proceeded to lick the jelly beans and draw all over my mom and the sheets . . . He was the 5th kid, she slept right through it.

Gaylin, that's hysterical! . . .and it beats my putting my dad to sleep whenever he'd try to get me to take my nap. I'd tiptoe out and whisper, "Shhh, Daddy's sleeping."

A friend just sent the following (but I think I still prefer my books on paper, like the new Dana Stabenow my sis ordered for me from her library):

It's free E Book week until midnight on March 14th.
The full range of books that are available especially for this week can be
accessed at: http://www.ebookweek.com/partners.html

The BEST jelly beans are Starburst. Not the tropical flavors, but just Starburst. Not so sweet like the original ones, but really tasty. I just found out my Mom likes Peeps---hmmm, maybe that's why we didn't get them in our Easter baskets???!!!!!

But where can we authors sign an ebook?

Elaine--Great point! And what about bookmarks? Will we no longer get those beautiful, handmade keepsakes the kids make? And what about the businesses who sell bookmarks? I want to hold a book, to feel the pages, to fall asleep with my book. I want my authors to sign my books, with real ink and then put my handmade bookmark in it to save my place.

As the oldest of four kids, the week after Easter was spent hiding hardboiled eggs for my sister and two little brothers to find. Which my mother put a stop to the year we found an egg months after the holiday.

Remember leaving the Easter eggs out? We'd never do that now, they all get refrigerated.

You all had me giggling about various ways to murder and cannibalize Peeps. What a bloodthirsty (sugar-thirsty?) lot you are.

eBooks: I sold mine in .pdf format for several years, and they actually did sell. But I'm not wild about reading books myself in that format. I spend enough time in front of the computer.

ok-- I agree that Lenox having an entire peeps collection is nothing but wrong (especially since I don't actually like peeps), but the salt and pepper shakers are sorta of cute. Oh the shame!

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