Easter 2018: The Quest for Peeps!

The month of April is coming to a close, and that means that Easter is already a month ago. Easter happened to land on April 1st this year. Kind of falls in a weird place this year, doubling up with April Fool’s Day. It’s a little weird to think about which one may be bigger at this point. IRL, Easter is the clear winner, but if you go online, you’ll find many more April Fool’s pranksters than pastel bunnies and eggs. And since more and more people basically live online all the time…

Anyway, Easter really gets me thinking. Thinking about nostalgia. Because it always brings me back to that time I wrote an article about Easter goodies. Reading that article, in turn, makes me nostalgic for and want to play Pokémon Colosseum. Or, at least moreso than usual. You can safely assume that at any given moment, I am probably thinking about Pokémon Colosseum.

But those things are mostly irrelevant. There’s one other thing that Easter always gets me all riled up about, and that thing is Peeps. Yep, good ol’ Marshmallow Peeps. The chick-shaped marshmallows that you will gleefully stuff into your mouth even as they wordlessly plead with their little sugar eyes for you to spare them. Truth is, in my advanced age, I don’t even really like Peeps all that much anymore. Used to love ’em. Used to hold the record for most Peeps eaten in a sitting (among certain circles). Actually I still like Party Cake Peeps, but I’ll eat anything with that fake birthday cake flavouring. Like, I can’t stand most seafood, but if you somehow masked the flavor with fake birthday cake, I’d be gobblin’ up all dem fishies like nobody’s bidness.

The point I’m trying to make, is that even though I’m not crazy about Peeps anymore, they are still an integral part of Easter for me. Significantly moreso than any other Easter-themed candy. Maybe not quite as important to me as getting together with the extended family for brunch or dinner or whatever, but an Easter is not an Easter without Peeps. And so, as a grown man with no romantic prospects to buy me sweets, each year I must set off on my own personal journey in search of Marshmallow Peeps.

Little did I know the trials and tribulations that 2018 had in store for me.

My quest technically began all the way back in late February, when you could begin to see the reds and pinks of the Valentine’s day goods transition to the pastel blues and yellows of Easter. I could hear the siren song of the sugary sweets. On many of my weekly grocery trips to Wal-Mart, I was tempted by those attractively soothing colours to peruse the holiday candy, but declined the call because it was just a little too early still. On the first weekend of March, I finally broke and dove headfirst into the Easter section. I came out empty-handed, as there wasn’t anything weird or new enough to grab my attention. I did note, however, that they had not yet put out any Peeps. How unusual…

Week after week I looked, shocked ever more at the concerning lack of Peeps on the shelves. What was happening? Did Wal-Mart and Just Born have a falling-out? No, that can’t be it; they still sell Mike & Ike’s. A Peeps conspiracy? Had the Canadian Junk Food Police finally cracked down on the cutest confection? Perhaps I was looking in the wrong place. While the seasonal corner seemed like the best spot, I began to check islands, end caps, and the candy section, but it was all to no avail. Wal-Mart had failed me. [Insert shocked gasp]

Much to my chagrin, I was going to have to… shop around. I am an old man in heart and soul, and as such I value tradition and routine more than anything. So I hate having to look at other places for things I should be able to get in the place I normally go to. But Easter was quickly approaching and desperation was setting in. I had to find Peeps, and it had to be soon.

My next destination was Dollarama. There was no way they could fail me, right? It’s my go-to for cheap holiday decorations and such, it would surely come though for my Easter candy needs. Alas, even Dollarama lacked the Peeps that I needed. Notably, Dollarama did have something that no other store had: fake Peeps. Or, I mean, close enough, right? Marshmallow bunnies sprinkled with (more) sugar an lined up neatly in racks. I haven’t seen a Peep in the shape of a bunny for years, but I know they’re a thing. So I cut my losses here and went home with Fake Peeps Bunnies in hand, two dollars and fifty cents poorer. They may have been fakes, but at least they would (ostensibly) sate my hunger for Peeps and save me the trouble of shopping around to other stores looking for the real deal.

Let me tell you, friends, don’t ever buy Dollarama’s Fake Peeps Bunnies. These are, by a wide margin, the most terrible marshmallow candies that I have ever had the displeasure of ingesting. And it’s not really so much that they taste bad, because they’re really bland but True Peeps are pretty bland as well. What puts these over the edge is that they are solid. It’s like trying to chew through a really thick taffy, more than a marshmallow. ‘Mallows should be soft and fluffy. These are decidedly not. I could feel my teeth and jaw straining while trying to masticate these awful, awful bunnies. And they just wad up into one big, solid mess, too. It’s a candy disaster.

You know what? Yeah, I’ve changed my mind and decided that they do taste especially bad, too. Just out of spite. Because I’m not a real writer or journalist or whatever and I can do that. At first it’s not too bad, but then you really get in there and suddenly the taste of dust overpowers anything else that might have been. It’s all bleccch up in there. Do not want. Do. Not. Want.

In retrospect, it may also be that these Fake Peeps Bunnies were just a decade old and nobody cared enough to notice (myself included). I don’t know. There’s no way to know. It’s a mystery that will persist until the end of time. Or until I go back to Dollarama and see if there’s any sort of expiry/best before date printed on the box. But we all know that’s not happening.

The other really big mystery here is that if they were so bad, why in the heck did I eat them all?

Moving past the insult and injury to my mouthparts in general, this story does have a happy ending! And incredibly happy ending! The weekend before Easter, my parents went on an impromptu day trip down to the good ol’ US of A. Also known as the Junk Food Capital of the World. Of course I didn’t think to put in a request at the time, but surely they would have been able to find scores of Peeps down there. And Peeps they did find! Not only Peeps, but Weird Peeps! And Cookie Peeps!

Possibly my favourite thing of all, is the package of Peeps Oreos that has been immortalized above. Just look at its splendor as you revel in the fact that there are Oreo cookies out there that are filled with the melted and mashed-up bodies of marshmallow chicks. Looking back, I probably should have done a more thorough examination of this package, but it was late and I was much too interested in shoving as many of these Oreos into my face as possible. I am obviously a sucker for junk foods, and even regular Oreos will drive me into a frenzy. When you present me with some kind of wacky gimmick Oreos? I lose even that last shred of control.

Peeps-themed Oreos are… I want to say terrific, because that’s what they should be. But they aren’t really terrific. In reality, they taste almost exactly like plain ol’ Oreos, but with just a smattering of marshmallowy flavour. I’m sure if you ate them blind, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. But you’re (probably) not blind! So you can see that beautiful purple goo in the middle, and that’s what makes these really special to me. I know it’s shallow, but I am shallow, and I really just love that look. If you could swap out the standard brown Oreo cookie bits with Golden Oreo cookie, these would be the ultimate snack. Not only would the visual appeal be increased beyond the threshold of comprehension, but Golden Oreos already taste a million times better than the regular ones. You throw in that little wisp or marshmallow flavour? Fuggetaboutit.

Joining the Peeps Oreos are not one, but three boxes of Mystery Peeps. I am only hyperbolizing slightly when I say that I was bouncing off the walls from excitement when I laid my eyes on these sweet babies. OH, the packaging, SO LOUD. OH, the Peeps, SO WHITE. Traditionally I roll my eyes and scoff at junk food with this stupid “guess the flavour” gimmick, but… Wait, no. That’s someone else. I always jump in headfirst when I see junk food with this stupid “guess the flavour” gimmick. Usually the flavour ends up sucking, but there are three different kinds here! One of them was bound to be good! Law of averages!

I quickly tore into the first box and gave it a big ol’ whiff, instantly recognizing the sweet smell of root beer. But I passed the box to my brother and dad, and my dad immediately disagreed with my assessment and said they smelled of toothpaste. I cocked my head to the said and took the box for another sniff. Weirdly enough, I could absolutely get the smell of minty toothpaste coming off of them. But I could still smell the root beer as well. What’s the deal? Do these two things have similar scents and I just never noticed? How could this be? I could have pondered this mystery longer, but instead I mashed a Peep in my face. Weirdly enough, the toothpaste/root beer Peeps had no flavour. Other than “regular marshmallow” I mean. Not even a bit. I want to say it was a big let-down, but I honestly didn’t really even care.

We had a quick consensus on the second package: Lemon. Though my dad went the extra mile and said they smelled like floor cleaner. So, artificial lemon. Yeah, that’s a fair assessment. These Peeps actually did have flavour, which should have been disappointing again because I’m not big on lemon. But it was a very light taste, and was really just the perfect amount of lemony to make it tasty, while not so strong as to turn me off.

The final box was by a wide margin the strongest in both scent and flavour. We waffled a bit between strawberry, raspberry, and wildberry, but eventually agreed that the best descriptor would be blue raspberry. That said… there’s not much else to say about them. These were the most delicious by far. But, obviously. I’m a big sucker for most berry flavours. It’s worth noting that since this is the Social Media era, the packaging of these Mystery Peeps encourages folks to go on Twitter and make guesses as to what the flavours are. We checked it out briefly, and it’s exactly what you’d expect; a fine mélange of guesses the same as ours, guesses that are astoundingly off, and responses that are obviously people just trollin’.

I wish I had some way to end this on a bit of a stronger note. It sort of just fizzled out there. I mean, obviously, I would say that the Berry Peeps and Peeps Oreos are absolutely worth buying if you were to stumble across them. If nothing else, buy them to give to me as a gift. A “Happy Monday” gift, because I really don’t want to have to wait for next Easter.


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