Let the record state: you are not likely to win former middle school crushes, current middle school crushes, or Santa Claus over with Peeps. Peeps are prepackaged, factory-formed one-noters. They are not handmade. They are not farm-to-table. They are sugary, squishy, mildly impersonal marshmallow chickens poofed out in Pennsylvania.
But if you are a candy loyalist of the sort who is not deterred by waxy eyeballs or the radioactive glow of their outer sheen, Peeps has enough varieties to fill a Container Store, not to mention the 18-foot-deep hole in my heart, but before I go on branding a marshmallow chicken on my left deltoid, I guess I should try ‘em all, and today? We go for Cotton Candy.
With June stretching out over 80 days in the future, I can think of no better time than now to be reminded of a carnival, and ripping open this quintet of Peeps does just that, knocking me upside the head with sparkly wonder and a smell that blends a distinct sugary brightness with Strawberry Jolly Ranchers, Vanilla Febreze, and Bubblicious. Who needs Disneyland when you have Peeps?
(Okay, I need Disneyland. Especially Space Mountain.)
But much like the overpriced snow globe at the Miami Airport, these glitzy chicks are all flash with little substance, holding only a faint essence of its spun-sugar inspiration. While the marshmallow itself still has that special taste that can only emerge when sucrose and corn syrup combine, only faint blips of vanilla extract, strawberry, and bubblegum pop in.
Taken as a whole, the flavor is sharply sugar-forward, tasting more of a regular marshmallow that was swapped at birth and doomed to an existence with the incorrect moniker. While a trifle disappointing for those looking for a more robust flavor, I must admit that this humble sugar flavor harkens back to cotton candy’s main goal: to serve as a vehicle through which you might funnel simplified carbohydrates into your sugar-depraved body, and why should you deny yourself? Life’s tough. Sugar’s great.
So, while they may cling to cotton candy’s legacy as a sugar-laden snack, this ensemble of chickadees tastes about as bold as faded paisley curtains. Perhaps it’s the batch. Perhaps it’s the Red #40. Perhaps it’s in the alignments of stars, Jupiter, and ill-directed DirecTV satellites, but I dare say these could use a little oomph.
That said, one might also say that this inconsistency is part of the true carnival experience. Just like balloon animals, dart games, and questionably constructed wooden roller coasters, cotton candy is not necessarily meant to be treated as a work of perfection, but more as a bright, mildly risky, fun treat, and these chicks? Achieve that. No ticket required. They may not warrant a permanent tattoo, but I could see a temporary tattoo going on.
(Nutrition Facts – 5 chicks – 140 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 15 milligrams of sodium, 0 mg of potassium, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 32 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein..)
Purchased Price: 99 cents
Size: 1.5 oz. package/5 chicks
Purchased at: Walgreens (a Walgreens exclusive)
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Fun. Shimmery. Not unpleasant vehicle for sugar. The Container Store. Space Mountain. Future plans to tattoo marshmallow chickadee on deltoid.
Cons: Missing the strawberry/vanilla/bubblegum flavors. Sugar crust falls off easily. Red Dye #40. One-note. Will not win former middle school crushes. Will not win current middle school crushes. Overpriced snow globes at the Miami Airport.