It’s OK to admit that you’ve already purchased, if not actually opened, at least one package of Peeps as we head toward Easter.
In the U.S., we buy more than a whopping 700 million Peeps at this time of year. That’s more than two colorful squishy marshmallow treats for each and every person in America.
I confess that I have fallen victim to their siren song over the years. My internal dialogue has included such deep thoughts as “Hey, fat free!” and “Hey, fewer calories than a Snickers!” Not to mention: “Hey! I might make these really cute Rice Krispie treats!”
So yes, Peeps have admittedly made many appearances among the annual parade of Easter loot in my house. But given that my employer wrote the book on how to assemble a healthier Easter Basket, I reluctantly had to concede.
This seemingly benign Easter treat must be hiding something sinister underneath its gloriously sparkly, neon-saturated mantle.
And of course, I was right. The Huffington Post infamously left a package of open Peeps on a colleague’s desk for a year with no detectible change in its appearance. A review of the ingredients explains why: sugar, corn syrup, gelatin and other palatable additions, including Yellow No. 5, potassium sorbate and carnauba wax, which also happens to be the primary ingredient in car wax.
We already know we need to reduce our sugar consumption. There is even new evidence that a diet heavy in sugary foods can increase your chances of lung cancer. And maybe you saw the recent headlines: Ultra-processed foods make up more than half of all calories in the U.S. diet.
Clearly, we have to find healthier options for our kiddos to gorge themselves on at Easter. But that makes me sad, too. Peeps are ingrained in our traditions, in our memories. They’re so pretty and, well, sparkly. Who knew they could create those colors in a laboratory?
If you feel as I do, then consider the obvious, easy solution that will help us all sleep better at night: Please, by all means, feel free to BUY Peeps. Just don’t EAT Peeps.