As candy corn is to Halloween, and conversation hearts are to Valentine’s Day, so Peeps are to Easter. Seemingly every holiday has a divisive treat that has hobbled along in the American consciousness by virtue of its most ardent defenders. But Marshmallow Peeps, the flagship product of Just Born Quality Confections, seem to proliferate more and more every year, spawning new flavors, shapes, and spin-off products to the delight of some and the horror of others. If you’ve never had the pleasure/misfortune: Peeps are chick-shaped marshmallows coated in colorful sugar and dotted with two teeny chocolate pinprick eyes. They inspire delight, dread, desire, and disgust. Which team are you on?
It took me decades to come around on Peeps. That’s the opposite of how an affinity for candy usually works: children start off with an insatiable appetite for sugar in all its most rudimentary forms before eventually tapering off into an adulthood of more balanced cravings and diverse flavor profiles. As a kid, I had little patience for non-chocolate treats on Easter morning, and the puffiness of Peeps irritated me: they were too filling on a day when you were rushing to eat everything else in your Easter basket. They were not nearly as rich as Cadbury Creme Eggs and the packaging caused them to go stale almost immediately (though I know some people prefer them this way).
Nowadays, I’ve come to appreciate almost everything I used to despise about Peeps. The puffy, yielding texture is a delight to bite into (provided I brush my teeth afterwards), and the fact that they’re both airy and filling makes it easy to stick to just one Peep as a little mid-morning pick-me-up. Their rather flat sweetness pairs well with a cup of coffee and doesn’t leave the cloying aftertaste of, say, a Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg. And as an adult, I now understand that plastic takeout containers, Ziploc bags, and/or Press’N Seal will keep those Peeps fresh and feelin’ their springiest.
Most importantly, though, are the game-changing flavor innovations of recent years: Sour Watermelon Peeps are a whole new springtime snacking paradigm, and I look forward to seeing if the same can be said of Blue Raspberry Peeps. What a time to be alive and consuming marshmallow products!
Texturally, there’s really nothing like a Peep, and that means it will always hold a valuable place in the Easter candy canon. I’m only sorry it took me so long to acknowledge that.
There’s a reason why Peeps are a source of derision every Easter. It’s because they are the worst. I have probably made enemies by saying that—this is the kind of truth that splits families in half—but sometimes the truth hurts. It’s just best to accept this fact and move on with life. The only redeeming quality is that Peeps are very nice to look at, and you can turn them into all sorts of homemade art projects. Those bright colors are really fun, and the faces are really cute (though I’m biased because half my best friends are stuffed animals). My favorite shape is the bunny because bunnies are already cartoonish with those giant ears, and I like the little dot eyes and dot noses. Once my friend made a Peep model of me.
Do not let the pastel colors and endearing faces fool you. Peeps are bland marshmallows covered in plain sugar, and every bite is a disappointment. But every year, I forget about how much I dislike eating Peeps, so I’ll still try one if I see it, and then I’ll be reminded one about how much I can’t stand them. Then, by the next year, the vicious cycle will repeat itself. This is how I survive in the world: with childish eternal optimism that gives everything more of a chance than it should.
The next best use of Peeps, besides putting them in an art project, is to make them all big by microwaving them, then, as you’re laughing your ass off, rip open a bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs and eat those instead.