I don’t have “a sweet tooth.” This singular designation just doesn’t adequately describe my affection for almost anything with sugar as a major ingredient. It would be better to say that I’ve got sweet teeth—a whole mouthful of them—and as an extension of this, I’ve been a candy addict my entire life.
While my mom did a pretty good job controlling my sugar intake when I was growing up, every Easter morning she facilitated my habit in a major way, giving me my biggest fix of the year, presenting me (before breakfast, no less) with a diverse array of sugar-laden treats nicely arranged (and portable too!) in a pretty basket.
The chocolate bunny, in his fancy foil suit, was usually the first casualty. I’d peel off the wrapper, break him into pieces and devour him one body part at a time—always in the same order, a macabre ritual, his ears first, his tiny little nose last.
Next, I’d pop open the colorful plastic eggs and pour a rainbow of jelly beans into a pile to gaze at greedily before consuming every last one, including the black and the white ones, which I didn’t even like, but, since they contained sugar, fell prey to my cravings as well. Even hours later, after being dressed in a frilly white (or pink) dress and going to church, I was still too full of candy to care anything about the Easter meal my mom (a fabulous cook) had prepared.
Despite my propensity to inhale anything in the candy family (and, sometimes, eat candy I don’t even like just because, well, I have a problem), there is one item I will not put near my mouth, even on the holiday they’ve become almost synonymous with, and that’s Peeps.
I’m obviously in the minority on this. They are one of the most popular additions to bunny baskets all across our country. It’s estimated that Americans buy more than 700 million of the neon-yellow, sugarcoated, cartoonish marshmallow chicks each spring, making them the No. 1 non-chocolate Easter candy. They are so widely and wildly beloved, the company that makes them has expanded its line to include pink bunnies and even Peeps themed for other holidays, like Halloween.
I’ve never understood the appeal. I don’t think they taste like much of anything, and while they look innocent enough, the vacant stares of Peeps’ black-dot eyes give me the creeps. But those aren’t the real reasons I don’t eat them.
After seeing a decorating idea using the ghost and jack-o-lantern Peeps that line store shelves on Halloween, I ignored the uneasy feeling their blank expressions give me and bought some (the pumpkin ones actually have a smile). My arrangement of the spooky shapes with other appropriately colored candies in a glass trifle dish turned out pretty cute. For some reason (laziness?), I put the entire ensemble up in a cabinet, just as it was, after the end of October.
While cleaning out my kitchen, I happened upon it again, more than a year later. The jelly beans and candy corns involved were a mess. About half of them had been reduced to melty, sticky goop, and the others had turned rock hard; their original jet black and bright orange hues had faded to gray and dusty peach. But the Peeps? They still looked perfect. They were soft; their colors were true. Their countenances were still void of all emotion (except for the pumpkins’ eternal grins). A food that lasts that long outside of the freezer or without undergoing some other form of preservation is suspect in my book.
So I don’t eat Peeps, but I do use them to make centerpieces for my breakfast room table that I now find kind of adorable (I’ve gotten over my fear of their faces) and that are cost-effective too. Since they last seemingly forever, you can grab a box or two for each holiday and never have to buy them again!
SEE ALL “EASTER SWEETS: PASS ON THE PEEPS?” PHOTOS HERE