This is a mildly revised and updated version of Peepin’ Out, originally posted in May, 2014.
Recently, somehow, word got through to me, that Peeps, those brightly colored marshmallow bunnies and chicks, would now be sold year-round. I can’t say if I even knew that those little cuties only peeped out on the market for a relatively short period of time each year in order to celebrate the Resurrection, but apparently this change was newsworthy.
Truth be told, I am really naive and poorly informed on certain things, like candy and religion. I have been confused for decades between Cabbage Patch Dolls and Sour Patch candies–I think that is what they are called. During nutritional consults, I confess that I have uttered the words, “Do you eat like Cabbage Patch Doll candies?” Not just randomly of course, but in the context of an assessment when I am trying to professionally interpret someone’s intake while sounding like I know what I am talking about.
Somewhere halfway between childhood and deciding to become a nutritionist, I managed to wean myself off of my predilection for sugar woven into various seductive forms. Maybe the end of my relationship with Peeps coincided with my commitment to a vegetarian diet. Eating anything with a face became more distasteful, including these adorable balls of gelatin congealed fluff. I have managed to avoid them for a long while now, except for a time where a co-worker enjoyed flaunting her love of them in front of me like the Adoration.
But, upon hearing the news that Peeps would be popping up in stores on a daily basis, I reacted like Puxatawny Phil seeing his shadow on that fateful Groundhog’s Day. Down into the burrow, I hastily fled. Just when I thought that maybe things were getting a little better regarding our capacity to ameliorate incoming incarnations of sugar, this information startled me. To soften the blinding light of neon-colored commercialism, I had no choice but to go into the dark place below.
By candlelight, I read the small print. Peeps are stewarded by the Just Born Company in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. According to the website, the wonderful combination of sweet colored sugar and fluffy marshmallow creates an unforgettable taste experience. And, furthermore, it states a great candy isn’t made, it’s just born. Jesus! Don’t these guys realize how bunnies multiply and that chicks are no slackers either when it comes to population growth? I guess they do. Apparently, 5.5 million Peeps are born each day!
This pronouncement of a seemingly immaculate conception in Bethlehem, rather than some sticky mess, presented a whole new ball of carnauba wax–one of the ingredients in Peeps along with sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, potassium sorbate, natural flavors and red 3, blue 1, yellow 6, or yellow 5 depending on the color. With 6.8 grams of sugar, each Peep is endowed with 1.5 (rounding down) teaspoons of essentially pure sugar–the kind that sends our bodies into metabolic-altering, insulin-demanding, fat-storing sugar shock.
In my quest to find out more about this situation, I was forced back above ground. Donning sunglasses, my research led me to my local national chain drug store where I made a few laps around the multi-aisle candy section disguised as a normal sugar craving person. I was forced to blow my cover by asking the clerk where the Peeps were. She reacted as if I must be from another planet. I did not bother to defend my citizenship as an earthling and neither did I explain the whole groundhog thing. But I did say my query had a scientific purpose–or something like that. Obviously, Peeps were not to be found after Easter. I was six weeks too late.
But, I said, I thought they were available all year now, in a widening array of flavors. She had not gotten that memo. However, she instructed me to go to the company website if I wanted more information. I thought that was funny. But, it was actually a good idea. (This year I got to see how the little sweeties are born.)
She did add though that she had somewhat recently gotten her little daughter some watermelon ones, so maybe I was right. I stiffened like a stale Peep. Like Catcher in the Rye’s Holden Caulfield who deemed himself the protector of childhood innocence, perhaps I take my influence as a nutritionist of the people and for the people a bit too seriously. In my head, I am charged on a daily basis to personally obliterate obesity, or on a larger scale to clean up this whole nutritional mess and its adherent ills.
I liked the care and assistance the drug store clerk had given me despite her initial recoil, and now by association, I cared about her daughter. Could I not issue a global recall of these wolves in chicks’ clothing candies due to salmonella poisoning, avian flu or something to save the children? My usual quandary about how to reconcile the business of capitalist markets and the public health smacked me in the face along with another more subtle underlying dilemma–who am I to take sugar from a baby? Don’t they need some sweetness in this cruel harsh world?
Well, I figured it was time to move back up. As by now, spring had finally arrived in these parts after the long, extended rodent-predicted winter, I decided it should be safe to step back into the sunlight.
Oh well. Send word. Let me know what you think or just say hi. I miss you. And, if you are needing a healthy, bunny-approved, Easter treat, look no further than Naked Food Magazine’s 5-minute Carrot Truffles.
In health, Elyn
P.P.S. For the winners of the 2018 Peeps diorama contest, check this out. And, oh my goodness, it looks like just this week there is some trouble down on the peeps farm regarding the company’s employee pension plan.
Lagoon watercress Peppers my tongue With spring joy. by Roxanne