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Soylent Yellow is Peeps! and other Easter confections

Wild hares under glass. Photo compliment Marthastewart.com

Of all the holidays, it seems that we revel in Easter’s confectionery bounty the most.

Cadbury Creme Eggs, Peeps and jelly beans nestled atop lavender grass elicit far m ore unadulterated excitement than say candy corn or conversation hearts.

One might make the case that the sweet fare of Halloween and Valentine’s Day finds nobler employment than merely being eaten: who hasn’t shoved October’s yellow-orange-white “kernels” onto their teeth as ersatz fangs?  And in February, who doesn’t leave a ubiquitous, chalky “fax me” or “u r cute” on an empty subway seat in the hopes that their long-suffering crush will finally understand everything and pocket the flavorless pastel in tacit acknowledgment?

Last year, encountering an “email me” heart in the bag nearly sent me into paroxysms—NECCO’s attempt at entering the 21st century somehow fails gloriously.

Before email, there was e-mail. Photo by Angela Argentati

In the realm of holiday candies that are actually meant for consumption, we approach Easter’s delicacies with special ritual. Why don’t we take as much joy in nibbling Santa’s chocolate appendages as we do in biting off Mr. Hopity’s velvet ears?

I mean, why hasn’t eating the beard first (followed by licking a present-hole in the toy sack) caught on? And why haven’t Mr. Claus’ eight tiny reindeer been memorialized in marshmallow ? Now Dasher! Now Dancer! Now Floppy and Oozy! On, Sugared! On, Puffy! On Donder and Doozy.  Dash away, dash away, oh no, you’re melting!

I propose that something about Easter treats appeals to us on some basic instinctual level, making them inherently edible. Despite the sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, dye and carnauba wax that compose Peeps,  one feels an irresistible urge to pop them in one’s mouth as a fluorescent pabulum cloud.

Dyed to1950s standards; edible today. Photo and eggs by Angela Argentati

Does it have to do with cuteness… about something being so cute that you “could just eat it up,” and wait a pastoral second, this adorable baby chick, these miniature speckled eggs are actually edible! Hooray! The Lilliputians set out our feast!

The French with their dainty macaroons and bite-sized petit fours and the Spanish with their small-plated tapas perhaps best understand food as novelty. Conversely, here in America the flavors of artificial Yellow No. 5 and Blue No. 1 authenticate our novelties as food.  And staleness imparts that particular piquancy of bygone childhood.

Watching a cat mercilessly tease a grasshopper, after which its feline jaws deliver the death blow (by crunching through the exoskeleton into a gooey center), makes me wonder if we are similar. Holidays, and especially Easter, give us macabre license to play with our comestibles. I gaze into my quarry’s sightless, nonpareiled eyes while I devour him, saving the solid-milk cotton-tail for last.

Spring blossoms. Photo by Angela Argentati

I don’t mean to dive into negative depths. Or, at least now, I’ll come up for air, because I love Easter candy, in all its magically realistic forms. Its trompe l’eggs. Its tulip-hued tableaus. Its fuzzy, soft-pelted bunnies that bawk bawk b’gwak! Nothing seems more natural, and more intuitively right, really, than rabbits who lay eggs. And nothing tastes better than a Cadbury Creme Egg on this day, properly eaten by licking a fissure into its seam and siphoning out the fondant yolk now liquefied by the heat of one’s hand.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Buzz April 24, 2011, 9:52 pm

    Nice job on the eggs!

    • Angela Argentati April 24, 2011, 10:16 pm

      Thanks Buzz! I consulted Martha.

  • Darren April 25, 2011, 9:03 am

    Thanks for this delicious piece

    • Angela Argentati April 25, 2011, 7:22 pm

      Darren – So happy to see you here! I hope you’re well!

  • Amanda April 25, 2011, 11:48 am

    First of all, yes! amazing eggs! Second of all, this is hilarious (though I admit to an enduring fondness for candy corn, faux fangs and all!). Third, this brings back strange but lovely memories of my mom’s obsession with day-after Peeps sales from Walgreens, hordes stored in her trunk in the weeks following Easter day (she made her rounds). I just love your worshipful treatment of Easter’s treats. Reminds me that I miss jelly beans. And yes, perhaps too, the carnivorous ripping off of chocolate rabbit heads, in sheer delight. Thanks for this sweet piece!

    • Angela Argentati April 25, 2011, 7:21 pm

      Thanks, Amanda! Funny about day-after Peeps sales… I never think Easter candy tastes as good after the fact, even though its shelf-life slates it for a century of pink or yellow plumpitude. I was wondering about constructing colorful Peeps s’mores… would making them be considered sacrilegious? Or, for that matter, gross?

  • Jeff McMahon April 25, 2011, 11:55 am

    Martha is blushing.

    • Angela Argentati April 25, 2011, 7:31 pm

      She wouldn’t, Jeff. She is absolutely, stupendously unflappable. And being one of the most astute business women of our times (and a journalist in her own right–she interviews hundreds of America’s little-known artisans–potters, wood lathers, bird biologists among them), I consider her a top-five all-time hero.

      • Jeff McMahon April 25, 2011, 10:02 pm

        Well. I don’t see how any of that is contrary to blushing. She totally blushes too:


        • Angela Argentati April 26, 2011, 10:29 am

          That video’s beyond horrendous! As someone who doesn’t watch television, I guess my above comment “astute… journalist” only applies to her magazine!!

  • Rico A. April 25, 2011, 2:13 pm

    Good writing and entertaining as usual. I can’t believe that I ate three Cadbury Cream Eggs yesterday!

  • pamela slavin lichtenstein April 28, 2011, 9:25 am

    …..and the trunk is once again filled with leftover Easter goodies!! But now I must shre them with my only grandson Elie. He surely will be filled withdelight-especially the Easter egg gumballs…tonight is the night!! Bubblegum sticky and a chocolate high!! Thanks for such a delightful article. (by the way Peeps were very hard to find)