Hanging with My Peeps

Come March 1st, grocery store shelves are already fully stocked with enough Easter paraphernalia to power non-stop spring fetes lasting a full month, regardless of when Easter Sunday is actually observed. For all the pastel glitter and sugar on offer, they still lack what is arguably the single most important element to a proper holiday celebration: Vegan marshmallow peeps. Peeps may have gotten a life outside of the spring season, but they will forever be inextricably linked with Easter in my mind, and vice versa. Since there was little understanding of what Easter really was in my formative years, all that in my eyes were those colorful, sugar-encrusted chicks and bunnies, staring out of their cardboard sleeves with emotionless dots for eyes.

Sweet & Sara has taken up the task of providing this essential Easter staple, easily surpassing that original standard. This isn’t the first time I’ve shared about these seasonal treats, but I’m happy to say that they’ve only improved over time. Now they too come dusted in a light coat of colored sugar, matching my fond childhood memories, but with real dark chocolate adorning each adorable shape. You won’t find them in stores any time soon, but they’re worth seeking out during this limited window of availability. Spring just wouldn’t be nearly as sweet without them.


Fine and Dandy

Indelibly imprinted into my developing, maliable mind at a young age was the fact that Easter meant marshmallows, and more to the point, marshmallows shaped like adorable bunnies and chicks, covered in sugar, and completed with beady little sugar-based eyes. Strangely fascinated by these florescent, saccharine candies, their inexplicable attraction grew as I saw them as less than an edible foodstuff, but as a toy to deconstruct and explore the inner workings.

Much like the child who is driven to pull apart the brand new flat screen tv in order to perform a technological lobotomy, I couldn’t leave those curious candy pillows alone until I found out what made them tick. Or why they existed in the first place, since they clearly weren’t meant for consumption. Early videos saved somewhere deep in the nether regions of digital storage have recorded evidence of just this; Frame after frame of my eager hands setting innocent-looking Peeps on fire, investigating the effects of microwaving, and my favorite, enlisting the help of my dad to run over them with his car. The mental image of that Peep pancake clinging with ferocious stickiness to the wheel of that tire will likely stay with me forever. For years afterward, I couldn’t pass by a display of those multicolored oddities without quietly poking them, still springy and squishy despite the plastic barrier.

Luckily, this bizarre obsession has come to pass, now that the Chicago Soy Dairy, masterminds behind the only jet-puffed vegan marshmallows, Dandies, has released their own, actually edible version. Dubbed “Tweets,” their soft pastel hues are in sharp contrast to their predecessors, and no longer appear to be the result of terrible nuclear fallout. Better yet, these subtle colors hint at actual flavors, and logical ones at that; Yellow chicks are lemon, orange bunnies, orange.

I only had the pleasure of sampling the pale but cheerful yellow mallow chicks, and while the flavor was very subdued, with just the barest hint of citrus essence, I could appreciate that it added more complexity to the confection overall. Far better than simply sugar-flavored treats, these gave me a reason to want to take a second bite. Where they really shine, however, is in the texture department. Crunchy on the outside thanks to the liberal application of granulated sugar, and fantastically soft but chewy on the inside, they are both fluffy and substantial all at once. All elements combined, that ends up as a rather terrifically addictive treat. Though they do lack the classic confectionery eyes, perhaps that’s a good thing- I have a feeling that a number of vegans might feel uneasy about chomping down on their Easter treats while the adorable marshmallows are staring right back.