April 23, 2011

Chocolate-Dipped Peeps

As I write this, the Easter Bunny is in his Bahamas candy shop putting the finishing touches on Easter baskets for all the good little girls and boys in the world. His work will bring delight tomorrow morning when chocolate rabbits, cream-filled eggs and jellybeans galore grace living rooms throughout the world.

But what about you, the adults? The ones whose lives aren't touched by the hopping joy brought by this hopping holiday hare? You've seen most of the stalwart Easter candy before, and chances are it's starting to look a little dull.

I'm pleased to report that a few new candies have bounded their way onto shelves for this year's Easter season. Today I'll focus on Peeps, those hunks of marshmallow goodness that turned your childhood into a sticky-fingered mess. Recently I noticed a couple of new-age Peeps at the grocery store: Peeps Chocolate-Dipped Marshmallow Chicks and Peeps Sugar-Free Marshmallow Chicks.

We'll be forgoing an in-depth look at sugar-free Peeps -- making Peeps without sugar is like making liquid without water. It's technically possible, but I doubt you'd want to ingest it. Instead, today's critique will be an examination of the chocolate-dipped Peeps.

The idea's a no-brainer once you hear about it. The execution, however, is a little more nuanced than you might expect. You see, chocolate-dipping Peeps doesn't involve simply dousing them in chocolate. Peeps Chocolate-Covered Marshmallow Chicks already have that ground covered. Chocolate-dipped Peeps are only covered in chocolate at the base. The Peep head and body escapes the cocoa vat unaltered.

As a result, the delicious traditional Peep sugar coating is present in abundance, providing plenty of that texture and flavor you remember from your childhood. It's enriched by the chocolate base coating, which adds a Hershey-esque complexity to the taste.

Chocolate dipping the Peeps also blunts the insane sweetness found in the traditional chicks. There's still plenty of confectionery pop in every bite, it's just not as grating. In addition, the chocolate chips in a bit of substance, offering some weight in every nibble. You feel like you actually have something to chew, rather than a phantom mouthful that dissolves after a few seconds.

The downside to the chocolate Peeps is that they come in pared-down packs. Standard Peeps are sold bunched together in packs of five, while Chocolate-Dipped Peeps sit on shelves in packs of three. What's more, they're surrounded by cushioning plastic casing. Apparently the Peep factory doesn't want its fancy-schmancy chocolate damaged.

Half-sized packaging might be a hidden bonus in this case, however. Normally I'm against contracting the size of a product, as it essentially gives the you less for your dollar. In the case of Peeps, though, fewer chicks will probably prevent stomachaches. You don't really need to eat more than three Peeps in a sitting, but it's nearly impossible to keep yourself from eating an entire pack once it's open. This is a case where we need protection from ourselves.

I have to hand it to the chocolate-dipped Peeps, they hit the perfect balance of nostalgic flavor and sugary innovation. I'm naming them this year's must-try Easter candy and handing out a five spork rating out of a possible five. Even if you're not a fan of Peeps, you're bound to find these interesting.

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