As holidays go, Easter always seemed to be the most confused. And, as a parent long ago thrust into the curious business of concocting imaginary creatures for my children's pleasure, I found there came a breaking point. And for me, the odd one out was the Easter Bunny.
I played along with Santa Claus and all that weirdness. I even helped hype the kids on the Tooth Fairy, though I'm still not sure what that was all about: "I really don't get it either, son, just understand she swoops in at night and pays good money for teeth."
But, alas, when it came time to go along with Easter, I just couldn't get behind the notion of a big supernatural rabbit hopping around dispensing candy and hiding eggs. Who came up with this? I'll bet whoever it was spent some quality time being cared for by the state.
All that said, there is in my book one redeeming thing about Easter: Peeps. Ah, yes, those sugar-laden marshmallow gobs of goodness shaped like bunnies and chicks. These tasty little dudes turn the days immediately following Easter into a most magical time. For beginning Monday, all around town, Peeps will be on sale at ridiculous prices. Forget Black Friday; this will be Yellow Monday.
If you've got kids around, you probably already have some Peeps in your house right now. Wait! Do not eat them. At least, not as they now appear before you, all soft and neatly wrapped in plastic. Trust me on this: They aren't ripe yet.
Here's what you do: Take something sharp and poke several holes in the plastic to properly aerate the Peeps. Then stash them somewhere out of reach for the next few months or so. They're best if you can wait at least six months, though mine rarely last that long.
So, how can you tell when your aged Peeps are ready to eat? Glad you asked. When you push them with a finger and they don't give whatsoever, it's time. You also can tell Peeps are ripe when you bite down onto one and have to pull so hard to get it to snap that it feels like your front teeth might rip from their roots. Then just sit back, chew carefully and enjoy.
I got this intricate recipe decades ago from my crazy mother. Stale, crunchy Peeps were our little thing. Even as an adult, I have fond memories of her stopping by and gushing in giddy delight when I produced a weathered box of Peeps from a dark corner of the cupboard.
Until now, I'd always thought it was only us. But apparently, we are not alone. In fact, there are 1.2 billion Peeps produced yearly; that's enough to circle the planet twice, though that scenario poses all sorts of logistical problems. My guess is that many of this year's Peeps have fallen into the hands of non-Peep-eating types who now are wondering what to do with them. Fear not, lost peepers, I am here to help.
If you don't want to eat the Peeps, perhaps you could turn them into art. For ideas, YouTube has countless Peep-themed videos: everything from movie parodies like "Peep Floyd The Wall" and "Star Wars: Revenge of the Peeps" to darker-themed shorts involving Peep torture and Peep microwave jousting competitions. I fear someday we may evolve into a society with far too much time on its hands.
The Internet also is home to all sorts of recipes to spice up your Peeps, though I admit many of these sound simply horrible. Apparently, there are folks out there eating dishes like Peep Waldorf salad, Peeps soufflé, sweet potato casserole with Peeps and even Peeps in a blanket, which, of course, features little chicks peeking out of dessert crepes. Peeps can be fried, grilled, baked and poached. Some folks put them atop cupcakes, while others float them in hot cocoa. The possibilities are boundless.
Call me a purist, but a stale raw Peep is hard to improve upon. C'mon, Peeps in a blanket? Now that's just taking things too far. There is, however, one other Peeps recipe I will vouch for: roasted Peeps.
All you do is place the Peep on the end of a long stick, then hold it over an open fire. Remember to turn constantly because the sugar coating will burn like the dickens. And be careful, because the molten marshmallow insides can scald the eager mouth. If you don't have a campfire handy, a small blowtorch works well, too. Don't ask me how I know that.
Bee staff writer Ty Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 874-5716.