DC at Night

DC at Night

Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Peep at the Peep Show

I have to admit I was surprised when my usually PG wife said we were going to view a peep show. From my  shady teen years and hanging out in the early 70s in New York's seedy Times Square, I had familiarized myself with the term which meant 1) a small box with a peephole through which a series of pictures, especially of erotic poses, can be seen or 2) a booth from which a viewer can see a live nude model for a fee.

Live nudes. I still remember that warm July night at the Cumberland County Fair when as a 16-year-old I secured a fake ID and realized a long-held fantasy by sneaking into the Coppertone Review to watch a scantily-clad Miss Chili Pepper ("She's Really Red Hot") writhe on a tiger-skin rug. But I digress. We were talking about peep shows.

So, anyway, I was in a confused state when my wife called me to the computer.

"Now, let me get this right. We're going to view a peep show?" I asked.

"Yes. It's really cute," she said.

My wife? Peep show? Cute? Well, I should have known better. It turns out we were indeed going to view a peep show, just not the one I had conjured up in the X-rated part of my mind. This peep show would be featuring real peeps - you know, the marshmallow candies molded into the shapes of once-all-yellow, but now brightly colored chicks and bunnies that make an appearance every Easter season as basket fillers. The same peeps that serve as the main ingredient in the annual Peep Show sponsored by The Washington Post in which DC-area residents demonstrate their artistic talents by creating dioramas using - you guessed it - peeps. The Post had just concluded its 7th annual Peeps Diorama Contest and announced its winner - Peeps Mourn Their Peeps: Twinkies, Rest in Peeps”
And this year's winner is - Peeps Mourn Their Peeps:  Twinkies Rest in Peeps
So for the next few minutes, my wife and I scrolled through the creative contest entries. One of my favorites was based on what I though was one of the best movies of 2012, Zero Dark 30. Of course, the name of the diorama, which along with 3 other finalists and the winner would be displayed in the front window of  The Washington Post building for the month of April, was "Zero Peep 30." 
Zero Peep 30 depicts the demise of Osama bin Peepin
As you know if you are a regular reader of my posts, I really like to eat. (Although for the sake of full disclosure, I must admit that peeps are not on my like-to-chow-down list). That's why it's not surprising that another favorite of mine (and also one of the 4 finalists) was a peep diorama of DC's iconic U-Street eatery Ben's Chili Bowl.

All this peep show viewing had piqued my curiosity for a more comprehensive peak at peeps. So I did some peep research. I found out a lot. For example:
  • Peeps got their name because yellow chicks were the original form of the candy, which began to be massed produced in 1953 in Bethlehem, Pa. where they're still made
  • Peeps are made from marshmallow, corn syrup, gelatin, and carnauba wax
  • Jokingly, peeps are called indestructible. A few years ago, young scientists at Emory University tested that claim. Using agents such as cigarette smoke, boiling water, and liquid nitrogen, the scientists found that the eyes of the peeps "wouldn't dissolve in anything."
  • Competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi holds the record for fastest peep eating: 25 peeps in 30 seconds.
  • Ryan Shannon set a world's record by balancing 20 peeps on his i-Phone.
  • The Washington Post was not the 1st newspaper to host a peep show. That distinction  belongs to The St. Paul Pioneer Press.
  • Peeps are no longer for Easter only. In fact, the company that produces peeps has an advertising campaign "Peeps - Always in Season" and you can now find the candies in forms for Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine's Day.
  • If this post didn't tell you everything you need know about peeps, you can check out the peeps FAQs page by clicking here
I find the peep contest kind of cool. And all this peep research has inspired me. I think I will enter the  contest next year. It's clear that peeps are nostalgic. And a part of Americana. And what is more nostalgically American than a county fair? So I think I already have my theme. In tribute to the summers of my youth, I will create Live at the County Fair: The Peepertone Review featuring Miss Red Hot Peepin' Pepper.  Now does anyone have a tiny tiger-skin rug I can borrow?

Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
Of course, this being DC, many entries into the peep contest had a political theme. You can check those dioramas out by clicking here. Unfortunately, the peeps pictured remained silent on the Sequester.

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