I genuinely don’t understand Peeps. I get that they’re made of marshmallow and that they’re meant to look like fluffy yellow chicks. But I don’t get why people would want to eat them by the 10-pack, which is how I bought my Peeps at my local Calgary Co-op. Comic Book Guy’s fondness for Peeps has forever tainted them in my mind. I have visions of programmers in depressing Silicon Valley cubicles with oddball Dvorak keyboards scarfing down Peeps between lines of code.
To me, they’re a sugary confection so closely linked to sugar that the very concept of No Sugar Added (NSA) Peeps can’t be reconciled with my version of reality, like a bottle of alcohol-free whisky or a brick of fat-free cheese. When I found them at the grocery store, I knew I had to compare them to the original Peeps.
The Pitch: Both: “Marshmallow Chicks.” No Sugar Added version: “No sugar added. Contains: Sucralose, maltitol, isomalt, hydrogenated starch hydrolysate and sorbitol.” Sounds delicious, right?
The Look: Both look like extruded mounds of marshmallow, coated in yellow sugar (or sugar substitute) crystals with mallow-tips for beaks and painted dots for eyes. For what it’s worth, the craftsmanship is considerably superior on the NSA version.
The Cost: So, here’s a huge difference between regular and NSA Peeps. For 10 regular Peeps, I paid $1.29, or $0.13 per chick. For 3 NSA Peeps, I paid $2.49, or $0.83 per chick. Sweet Jebus, that’s a huge difference. Put another way, a 10-pack of NSA Peeps would theoretically cost you $8.30 versus $1.29 for the regulars. You’ve got to be pretty damned desperate for Peeps if you’re willing to pay for the NSA ones.
The Taste (regular): Springy (not overly soft) marshmallow, with a sugary crunch and food-colouring chemical notes.
The Taste (NSA): Totally different marshmallow texture and taste. Flavour is almost like vanilla cake topped with vanilla frosting-from-a-tub. The marshmallow is harder, with less spring and a dense, foam-rubbery mouthfeel. The “sugary” coating isn’t nearly as crunchy or satisfying. The food-colouring twang is there, but it’s not quite as noticeable; the vanilla flavouring overpowers it.
RATINGS AND DETAILS
Availability: Seasonal, but widespread. As today is Easter Monday, look for discounts as shops try to clear out stock.
Nutrition (regular): Per 5 chicks (42 grams): 140 calories, 0 grams of fat, 15 mg of sodium, 0 grams of fibre, 1 gram of protein.
Nutrition (NSA): Per 3 chicks (28 grams): 60 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 mg of sodium, 0 grams of fibre, 1 gram of protein.
Gluten-Free?: Yes, indeed! Both types.
The verdict: I don’t like either one. But if I had to pick a lesser of evils, it would be the regular Peeps. You’ve got to be in a pretty bad place to resort to buying No Sugar Added Peeps.