Peeps have gone upscale.
Those chewy, gooey, marshmallow-based candies shaped like little chicks (or bunnies) are either the object of love or scorn at Easter time. Some people love 'em and discuss the perfect way to enjoy them. Some microwave them to near runniness. Others like them left out for a day or two so that they are slightly stale (try it before you slam it) . But more and more, Peeps are showing up in elaborate dioramas in newspaper- or television-sponsored contests, with hilarious results.
Two long-running Peeps contests are at the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune. Both feature some amazingly intricate entries, some based on famous paintings. One year a runner-up depicted Vincent Van Gogh's famous painting of his bedroom with almost exact color replication. On the bed lay a Peep with one bloody and bandaged ear.
This year, however, the entries tend to feature everyday American icons such as the Star Wars characters, the American Idol television show, Harry Potter at a quidditch game, and other popular figures.
So much glamor for the lowly little candy. It was not always so. Several years ago, some researchers from the Journal of Irreproducible Results got together to create experiments that would make Dr. Mengele proud. The poked and poked and prodded Peeps, put them in the oven, and for a grand finale, popped them in a microwave—all to measure "fear" in the little critters. The Journal now seems to have cut off any link to the research but it has shown up, slightly altered as Peep Research (jump to the Fear Response page) on a page sponsored by Just Born, the company that makes Peeps. Looks like they have a sense of humor about people who like to mutilate their product.
Don't worry, there's really no wrong way to eat a Peep. If you really hate them, there's nothing wrong with getting a little aggression out by sticking them in the microwave. Just remember, it wouldn't be Easter without Peeps–stale, runny or exploded.