My mom sends me a lot of links. She surfs the web more than me and is always sending interesting stories. She could be called the CosmoCon Research Assistant since I write about many of them. Yesterday, she informed me that Peeps, the marshmallow candy, has opened a store in Oxen Hill. The LA Times did a story on it:
The first Peeps & Co. store opened with a gala ribbon cutting in National Harbor, a new mall and convention center along the Potomac River. Hard hit by the recession, the mall boasts more boarded up windows than stores, and most appeared deserted two weeks before Christmas.
But business was booming in the Peeps store. Lights pulsated from the ceiling and inside a huge yellow chick. Music thumped from speakers.
“I love the way they leave your hands different colors,” said multimedia artist David Ottogalli, who once built a sculpture using 5,200 Peeps. The store sells a dozen of his smaller Peeps pieces.
Peeps have their own subculture. I always expect them in my Easter basket and laugh at the Washington Post diorama contest, but some of these things are just strange:
“There’s something mystical about Peeps,” said Matthew Beals, a New York filmmaker who has shot a 45-minute documentary about people obsessed with the spongy bunnies and chicks. “They really inspire a passion. People either love them or hate them.”
Fans of the pastel-colored, sugar-coated confections have compiled a “Lord of the Peeps” trilogy, filmed “Star Wars Peeps” and sent them into space on a high-altitude NASA weather balloon.
Scientists, or at least graduate students with too much time, have conducted numerous experiments. One shows what happens if a Peep is submerged in liquid nitrogen, at minus 346 degrees Fahrenheit, and then hit with a hammer. It shatters.
More than 100,000 people belong to a Peeps fan club, and websites and YouTube videos abound.
So do “Peep Off” competitions: The record holder ate 102 in 30 minutes in Sacramento. And nearly 30 newspapers sponsored Peeps diorama contests last Easter.
The Washington Post received 1,100 entries, including such memorable scenes as Peeps prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; John Steinbeck’s sad-faced Peeps of Wrath; a flying Mary Peepins; and, most dramatic, a Peeps plane in the Hudson River.
They are fun, sugary and cute, but I fail to see the deeper message in this confectionery:
“They manage to straddle the world between cute and horrible,” he said. “You can look into their black beady eyes and see your childhood. Or you can look into their black beady eyes and see the bleakness of the soul.”
As you open a box of Christmas Peeps this December, do you see the bleakness of your soul, highlights of your childhood or a piece of candy that’s nearly too sweet to eat?