March 25, 2010
Marshmallow Peeps are a funny thing. They’re technically edible, but that’s not their main appeal for most of us (although I do confess an embarrassing fondness for stale Peeps—it’s a texture thing; almost like meringues). Would you buy a normal-shaped marshmallow rolled in neon sugar? Probably not. But Peeps are cute, there’s a cartoon-like charm to their simple features.
Peeps remind me of childhood, when I’d hunt for their soft, sugary shapes amid the plastic grass in my Easter basket, then hold them in my open palm like a pet for a while before finally, guiltily, biting off their heads. I liked the way the sugar crunched between my teeth and the artificial coloring turned my tongue yellow…but the same qualities now make me cringe. Memories often taste better than reality.
I bought a lot of Peeps again this year, though. My friend and fellow Smithsonian blogger, Sarah Zielinski, had the idea to enter the Washington Post’s annual Peeps Diorama contest. She suggested “Peeps jousting” as our theme, since apparently that’s what it’s called when you microwave two Peeps wielding toothpick swords and see who ends up skewered. We went with a more traditional, medieval jousting scene, hoping the judges would get the double meaning. An artistic colleague, Jamie Simon, completed our three-woman team.
The winners won’t be announced until next week, but we don’t expect to be among them, after catching a glimpse of entries like this “Washington National Peep-Thedral” (that’s right, they even have a Facebook fan page already!). Compared to that level of artistry and detail, our diorama looks like a Peep next to a real chick. But that’s okay—we had fun!
Sign up for our free email newsletter and receive the best stories from Smithsonian.com each week.