Saturday, March 20, 2010

sweet seventeenth

No matter how late or how early Easter is each year, my wife's birthday always falls during Lent. As a result, we plan our Lenten sacrifices to exclude a sweet treat on her special day. This year's celebration was delayed because she's had a cold. We went out to dinner tonight and then someplace else to get dessert.

My Facebook and Twitter feeds had several posts about free Italian ice today at all Rita's Ice locations. Apparently it's a first day of spring tradition at the Philadelphia-based chain. This year, they have teamed up with another famous Pennsylvania company to create a special flavor that I had to experience for myself. I talked my wife into going to Rita's on Market Square tonight.

The store was crowded when we arrived. My wife wisely chose the sugar-free tangerine flavor while I took a cup of the new Peeps Ice. I expected it to be very sweet since the real Peeps are not just marshmallows but sugar-coated marshmallows. Unfortunately they added a vanilla flavoring that didn't work for me. It was as if I suddenly understood all the negative things people have said to me over the years about my love of Marshmallow Peeps.

The ice was sickeningly sweet. I don't believe it to be an accurate representation of a standard Peep, which I still crave. Maybe they were trying to make it more like the vanilla-crème flavored marshmallows that they sell for Valentine's Day, which I don't enjoy.

Rita's still has plenty of good flavors. Peeps Ice just isn't one of them. Next Saturday they will give away chocolate-covered Peeps at Rita's. I had one of those in January and loved it.

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Saturday, January 02, 2010

candy planned

The candy spotted by my friend Keith made no sense for late December. He emailed me on the Second Day of Christmas to report that the Kroger on S. Northshore Drive was selling Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs. When I saw him at church the next morning, I asked if he thought they were left over from last Easter. No, a clerk told Keith that the eggs had just arrived.

My family and I stopped at a Sheetz convenience store on New Year's Day. In addition to the Reese's eggs, they had a whole assortment of Easter candy including Almond Joy Eggs, Easter Dots, Jolly Rancher Jelly Beans, Cadbury Creme Eggs and Cadbury Caramel Eggs.

The item that caught my eye and pried 99¢ plus tax from my wallet will be obvious to most readers of this blog. In fact, I had recently mentioned that I was anxious to try a chocolate-covered Marshmallow Peep. In my excitement, I hastily purchase a Peep covered with milk chocolate, momentarily forgetting that I had intended to hold out for the dark chocolate variety.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

people who need peep'll

A fantastic tourist destination has recently opened near Washington, D.C. On my next trip to Northern Virginia, I need to get across the Potomac to Oxon Hill, Maryland, home of the new Peeps & Company retail store. My thanks go to former Comedy World listener Ravin' Dave, who tipped me off to a Los Angeles Times article about it.

The store is located in the National Harbor development along with other shops, restaurants and hotels. As the name suggests, it sells Marshmallow Peeps and Peeps-related products. Many of the 850 items are not edible. They have t-shirts, plush toys, figurines, books, coffee mugs, and much more.

Of all the things pictured in video reports by the Associated Press, and by WRC-TV, I am most interested in trying the new dark chocolate covered marshmallow chicks that will debut elsewhere next Easter.

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Monday, November 23, 2009


The most appealing items to me at the church bake sale on Sunday were some cupcakes that were brownie on the bottom and white cake on top. The fudge frosting held up to handling better than butter cream (or even But-R-Creme) would have. Whoever made them wisely broke one open to reveal their chocolaty goodness. My wife and I split one of those and one of something that would best be described as a graham cracker praline. The cupcakes were so good, they made me wish I had bought more.

The sale is part of the annual Harvest of Blessings at All Saints Church. In addition to the food, they sell religious items from the Paraclete, some handmade crafts, Boy Scout popcorn and the like.

There were two marshmallow treats that I was able to resist. The chocolate-peanut butter mallow bars were sold by the plate, not individually. The marshmallow snowmen were cute but the little fellas looked squished from all the handling required to assemble them. Even if the chef wore gloves, I would still prefer a gentler touch.

We also saw some kid-friendly sugar cookies decorated as turkeys and some actual pralines labeled with the important disclaimer that they contain pecans. Oh really?

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

dessert storm

As Thanksgiving approaches, a couple of thoughtful readers sent me some tempting recipes from the Internet. The do-it-yourself marshmallow peeps on Twig & Thistle look much better than the blobs I once made with the Peeps maker that now resides on my office shelf. I'm guessing that my friend Kathy would have better results with the homemade peeps than I would. She made some great marshmallows last Christmas and last Easter. Hmm... the annual church bake sale is this Sunday.

Another recipe that may be too much for me is Paula Deen's eggnog. It's not that it's too complicated, it's just that it makes ten times more than I need. I emailed the link to my wife. She was grossed out and made it clear I would be the only one drinking it. On top of that, I still have some Weigel's eggnog in the freezer that I didn't drink last year.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

mallow inn

Middleburg is in the heart of Virginia's "hunt country." Riders on horseback and their hounds hunt foxes the way they did in the cartoons we watched as kids. On Sunday, my wife and I met some relatives for a delicious brunch at the Hunter's Head Tavern in nearby Upperville. I had heard that the restaurant's owner was not a fan of fox hunting and designed a logo in which the fox gets the upper hand. There's even a comical mounted head near the bar.

If I had been eating alone, I probably would have gone to a shop called Mello Out, despite their inability to spell marshmallow. They specialize in handmade marshmellos [sic] but have other menu items too. I would have ordered the Adam's Apple, which is apple, peanut butter, bacon and honey on brioche.

My wife and I did stop in to get a package of their marshmallows. Our friend Maureen from Fox Chase Farm was with us. While we were there, the staff was taking some Cosmic Cupcakes out of the refrigerator and putting them on display for the day. Fortunately for us, the frosting on one of the cupcakes had gotten stuck to the container. Since it was unsuitable for sale, the manager gave it to the three of us to split. The frosting was rich and tasty and the cake was exceptionally moist. It was the best cupcake I have had in quite some time.

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Monday, October 05, 2009

Goren piece

A big fan of Vincent D'Onofrio is making an heroic attempt to keep him on "Law & Order Criminal Intent." Her exhaustive attempt to reach all corners of the Internet has even brought her as far as contacting Frank Murphy Dot Com. Why? Because I love Marshmallow Fluff.
My name is Nantz and I wanted to make you aware of a massive writing campaign that the fans of LOCI have been involved with. We have been sending postcards, emails, snail mail, tweets and posting everywhere we can to get our message out there of our displeasure at the dumping of Vincent D'Onofrio, Katie Erbe and Eric Bogosian. In answer to USA Network's trending towards "lighter fare" and "fluff" I have come up with the idea to send jars and jars of "Fluff" (that's the marshmallow crème) to the execs to let them know they can "stuff their fluff." As soon as the season premiere airs and all the aforementioned actors are gone, so are we, and long with us the ratings will go too. Not such good news for a cable network that is currently #1 and the reason they have such high ratings is because of shows like LOCI in the first place. Our voices have been heard as we have been highlighted in twice now. Soon cases of Fluff, cotton balls, Polyfill will arrive and right now they are being inundated with thousands of letters and postcards. WE control the numbers and if it's all about the almighty dollar in cutting these actors because of their salaries then they will find out what exactly numbers really mean.
Nantz is using her blog dedicated to D'Onofrio to spread the word about saving her favorite characters. The blog links to a Twitter account called saveGorenEames. They are hoping other Twitter users will copy and paste their "tweets."

I am curious to learn more about a site called On Location Vacations. They are encouraging "Law & Order" fans to bring Marshmallow Fluff to the set in New York on October 16. I'm interested in checking the site before I take my sightseeing trips next year just in case somebody happens to be filming in Iowa or South Dakota. It will be especially helpful when I can get around to visiting L.A. again.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

fluff and fold

Susan Olsen will be disappointed. Early in the summer she and I both searched unsuccessfully for any information about the date of the annual "What the Fluff?" festival in Massachusetts. She was thinking about attending and maybe displaying her amazing collection of Photoshopped Fluff art. It would also have been a good chance for her to promote her new book, "Love to Love You Bradys."

This morning I saw a link in Perry Simon's All Access column that mentioned a magic word. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is considering naming the Fluffernutter their official sandwich. Lawmakers are also thinking about several other funny official items including making 6 the official number of the state. A throwaway line at the end of the article mentioned that the fourth annual Fluff fest takes place Saturday.

I have been curious about the event since the first one in 2006. Within the past 30 days or so, "What the Fluff?" has turned up on Twitter and on Facebook. This year's festival will have a cooking contest, messy Fluff games, music, dancing and a poetry contest to choose the "Fabulous Pharaoh of Fluff."

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Friday, September 04, 2009

a real s'mouthful

The thought of Labor Day cookouts reminded me of a book I saw a few weeks ago at a silent auction. "S'mores" by Lisa Adams is full of mouth-watering photographs and recipes for gourmet marshmallow treats. The auction was part of the American Cancer Society benefit that brought Gilles Marini to town.

A Google Preview of the book shows s'mores made with pieces of fruit for a supposedly healthier snack. Other suggestions include using Milky Way Minis or Andes Mints instead of plain old Hershey's Bars.

The copy of the book I saw had a flyer for Plush Puffs Marshmallows inside the front cover. I didn't win the book at the auction but I did add it to my Amazon Wish List. The same publisher also has a book on homemade "Marshmallows" that looks good but would involve a lot more work than a s'more.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

youngest one in curls

Susan Olsen has co-authored a new book about an oft-overlooked aspect of her "Brady Bunch" years. The skeleton in the Brady closet is "The Brady Bunch Variety Hour." The nine episodes they filmed were, in effect, a spin-off of the "Donny & Marie" show.

"Love to Love You Bradys" is all about the disco-era incarnation of the famous TV family. Susan is making the rounds to publicize the book. She will be on the "Today Show" Monday morning and on "Fox & Friends" Tuesday morning.

Yesterday I recorded an hour long interview with my friend Susan. She and I worked together at the Comedy World Radio Network and have kept in touch ever since. We talked about her Brady siblings, Asperger's Syndrome, kitten rescue, Marshmallow Fluff and more.

You can right click here to download the podcast or click on the play button below to let it stream in your browser. Because I know that not everyone will have time to listen to the full hour, let me tell you exactly where to find the parts that will interest you most.
  • 02:02 - the book and the show
  • 08:34 - what about Ann B. Davis?
  • 10:22 - Fake Jan and Paris Hilton's mother (good stuff)
  • 16:55 - more about the Variety Hour
  • 24:35 - her ex-boyfriend, Pooperman
  • 27:06 - Susan's son Michael and Asperger's
  • 32:19 - what about her Brady siblings?
  • 37:49 - why Maureen and Eve aren't close (don't miss this!)
  • 44:02 - Susan's work with kitten rescues
  • 52:12 - our mutual love of Marshmallow Fluff

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

debbie dogs

A link in yesterday's post about my "portable birthday cake" led back to something I wrote four years ago about Twinkies. Back then I was griping about Hostess Cakes being overpriced. While at Walmart the other day, I saw some Little Debbie products that are low-cost alternatives to their competitors.

Obviously Golden Cremes look like Twinkies. The Chocolate Cremes look somewhat like Oreo Cakesters and a little bit like Whoopie Pies.

I wonder if there is any difference in the flavor of Marshmallow Pies and the famous MoonPies. The real thing is usually too dry for my taste.

Most interesting to me was the box of Devil Cremes. They look like Drake's Devil Dogs, a childhood favorite of mine but could they taste as good? Even at that low price, I resisted the temptation to buy them. I've had more than enough sweet treats lately and didn't want to buy a box of six. If I do buy some, maybe I'll eat one Devil Creme and freeze the other five for later, like I did two years ago with Reduced Fat Devil Dogs.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009


On the northbound leg of our vacation road trip, we stopped for lunch in Pennsylvania at Hershey's Chocolate World. We got salads for lunch and a S'mores Cup to share for dessert. It was basically a pile of sawdust-like graham cracker crumbs under a layer of melted chocolate which was covered with a layer of mini-marshmallows and a drizzle of chocolate on top. It tasted fine but could have benefited from being stirred before the marshmallows were added.

I saw a family ordering ice cream cones and couldn't believe my eyes. Here they were inside Hershey's Chocolate World and they ordered plain vanilla cones. One of them was happy to comply when I asked if I could photograph the insanity.

A few other treats caught my eye. The peanut butter cookies were decorated with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. The Chocolate Iced Chocolate Mini Cakes appeared to actually be slices of cake covered in icing on all sides. I think local supermarkets that sell cake by the slice could steal this idea and add more icing.

When we saw the display of Hershey's Barbies, my son said, "I thought she would be bigger."

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

hang a name on you

RT Lodge should not be thought of as the world's fanciest Ruby Tuesday, although it is owned by the same company. It is also a hotel, a corporate retreat and an ideal setting for a wedding reception or other gathering. The restaurant at RT Lodge opened to the public in January. My wife and I went there for dinner last night with another couple. The rustic decor made me think the lodge might have more in common with its upscale cousin, Blackberry Farm, than with any Ruby Tuesday restaurant. Someday I'll have to go to Blackberry Farm and see for myself.

As much as I enjoyed our dinner, I could not wait for dessert. Yesterday, I mentioned that I had already looked at their offerings online and decided on the triple chocolate "moon pie." When I got the dessert menu, I saw that it had been renamed "lunar pie," so as to avoid any legal entanglements with MoonPie of Chattanooga. It did not disappoint. Even my wife, who shared the dessert with me, loved it. She is not normally a fan of the chewy texture of marshmallows. The white stuff in the lunar pie was smooth and creamy. The chocolate chocolate chip cookies were just right too.

Generally speaking, I find the cracker inside a MoonPie to be too dry. However, I learned a trick about five years ago at the RC & MoonPie Festival. Cut a MoonPie in half and place the two pieces on opposite sides of a microwave-safe bowl. Zap it for a few seconds until the marshmallow expands. Drop a scoop of ice cream between the halves for MoonPie à la mode. If you're going to be near Bell Buckle, Tennessee next weekend, you might want to swing by the 15th Annual RC & MoonPie Festival in Bell Buckle on Saturday. Or just go to the RT Lodge in Maryville.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

popular culture

Menchie's Frozen Yogurt celebrated its grand opening in Knoxville this weekend. My wife and I stopped by the new Turkey Creek location for a taste on Saturday. Local franchisee Bruce Smythe introduced us to Danna Caldwell, who founded the company and her sister Shir Balas, who handles marketing. Danna (pronounced Donna) is the mensch who gave the store its name. Menchie is her husband's nickname for her.

Frozen yogurt has become fashionable again in Southern California. Some chains, like Pinkberry, specialize in tart flavors. Menchie's offers both tart and sweet yogurt. The ratio varies by locale. Danna opened her first store in Valley Village. When we told her we had lived in Burbank, she happily described the location of her store there and her other San Fernando Valley locations.

The customers serve themselves at Menchies. You pick a flavor or a mixture of flavors and then add your own choice of toppings. The cashier puts your finished concoction on a scale by the register, where you pay 44 cents per ounce. Trying to be concise, I said on the air Friday that they charge you by weight. Oops.

I mixed dark chocolate and island banana yogurts in my cup. My wife said it might be a good idea for me to try mixing the dark chocolate with tart pomegranate next time. I had intended to top my frozen yogurt only with fruit however all the other choices proved irresistible. I was especially intrigued by some rice thingies called mochi that were like miniature marshmallows. Danna said they had no taste themselves but picked up the flavors surrounding them. Afterwards, we remembered hearing about mochi last summer on "I Survived a Japanese Game Show." The contestants tried to eat the most mochi balls while riding tricycles.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

all natural

Tazy Phyllipz and his wife are visiting Tennessee this week. He and I worked together on the Kevin & Bean show. Like me, Tazy and his wife Maria enjoy looking for Roadside America attractions when they travel. I suggested they go to the Sunsphere and the Dolly Parton statue before heading west to Graceland. Last night they came to see Einstein Simplified perform.

In an unfortunate stroke of timing, Tazy will still be traveling when Weenie Roast tickets go on sale Thursday. He was an early supporter of many of the bands on the bill, especially Rancid. I hope he is able to find a way to get into the show. After KROQ, Tazy hosted The Ska Parade show on stations in San Diego and Orange County.

Tazy is probably going to write a book about his Forrest Gump moments. I didn't remember that he was involved in the argument between Jimmy Kimmel and Michael the Maintenance Man that led to the "Bleeda in Reseda." He also was answering the phones at KROQ when Adam Carolla first called in to offer his help as a boxing coach.

I do remember Tazy being the unintended victim of a practical joke that Jimmy tried to pull on Adam. On his April 2nd podcast, Adam said that Snapple was his beverage of choice back when he first started at KROQ. I had downloaded the show because several people emailed to tell me that guest Chris Hardwick mentioned my name as he told the story of his being hired as a deejay at the station.

One day Jimmy saw an unopened Snapple bottle in the office I shared with "Loveline" producer Ann Wilkins. He took the bottle and sat at Ann's desk, where he tampered with the product. Without going into too much detail, let's just say that Jimmy left a film of baby powder on top of the drink. I was recently reminded of that old prank when Jimmy had Guillermo do something similar but not exactly the same to the Marshmallow Peeps that Dane Cook stuffed in his mouth on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" just after Easter.

Jimmy and I waited for Adam to come out of the studio and swig his drink. Instead Tazy walked into the office and said, "Oh there's my Snapple." Jimmy and I were horrified that he had defiled Tazy's bottle, thinking it was Adam's. I emailed Jimmy yesterday and asked if he remembered Tazy Phyllipz. He replied, "not only do I remember him, LAST NIGHT I told the story about... his Snapple!" Over dinner at Patrick Sullivan's, Tazy erased some guilt I had been carrying all these years when he told me something I had completely forgotten. He said that I stopped him from drinking the tainted tea and made him put it in the trash. However I had every intention of watching Adam quench his thirst with the Jimmy-flavored juice.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

eight days a week

The eggs that my wife and I colored on Saturday will last us for the entire Octave of Easter, assuming that we each eat one a day. I picked out a dozen and arranged them on the egg plate that I gave her as a birthday gift a few years ago. Before you ask, I bought it at Cracker Barrel. Since our son is away at college, my wife took it upon herself to replicate his annual Earth egg.

There was an Easter surprise in our basket this morning. My wife found some of the elusive Peeps Chocolate Mousse Flavored Marshmallow Bunnies that I wanted. She also got me some Sunsweet Chocolate Plum Sweets. I guess they're like Raisinets, except these would be Prunettes.

The same friends who gave me homemade marshmallows for Christmas have done it again. In addition to the marshmallows, Kathy made some chocolate peanut butter eggs and peanut brittle. She has a true gift for candy making. Maybe she could turn it into a business someday.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

cyrus circus

Friday's unannounced appearance by Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus gave me a chance to chat with other members of the media and to fraternize with a couple of my dancing competitors. Oh and I also talked with the stars of "Hannah Montana The Movie," who were in Knoxville briefly as part of Walt Disney Pictures Opening Weekend Surprise. Marc & Kim and I were asked to "interrupt" the noon showing of the film, give away t-shirts and then bring out Miley and Billy Ray. I tried to take a picture but found myself on the wrong side of them. There are more photos on the Star 102.1 website and at

The local media were there in full force. All three news stations sent their own crews, as did the News Sentinel. Terry Morrow and Lauren Spuhler represented the paper and its website. Terry felt it necessary to strike a pose when I took a picture of Lauren Davis from WVLT and Beth Haynes from WBIR. While we were all waiting for Miley to arrive, I talked with Terry and Beth about our upcoming dance performances. Lauren Davis wanted to hear about it too. In the course of the conversation about me facing my fear of dancing, I showed her a couple of "before" photos that were on my Walkman.

Kristyn Caddell from WATE joked that we always seem to see each other at the "fun" stories. She also covered the new Bishop's press conference and the Christmas penguin. I asked Kristyn to turn around for a picture because at the time, I could see Miley over her shoulder. But then Miley moved on to the next interview along the press line.

The behind the scenes passageways inside the Regal Pinnacle Stadium 18 would have allowed Miley and Billy Ray to walk unseen from the theatre to the interviews in an upstairs conference room. However Miley found her way to a balcony where she could wave to the fans who didn't get in to the noon show.

The next stop for the Cyruses was Salt Lake City where they repeated the surprise. The Salt Lake Tribune says Miley received some Marshmallow Peeps, which are her favorite.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

the emptiness inside

One of my wife's friends gave her an unusual gift at church on Sunday. The friend's husband makes Easter Bunnies out of balloons, yarn and starch. It looks like there's some glitter thrown in for good measure. I tried looking on the Internet to see how he does it but only found instructions for simpler items like eggs or nests.

The starch-soaked yarn solidifies around the balloons, creating a hollow center. The same basic idea is used when making Resurrection Rolls. A listener e-mailed me the recipe, which I had never heard of before. Instead of a balloon, a melted marshmallow leaves the empty space, which represents the tomb of Jesus on Easter morning. I wonder if it would work with a Marshmallow Peep instead of a standard marshmallow.

While we're on the topic of putting candy inside things, Chef Walter made a leftover Easter candy cake on Tuesday. He mixed two cups of chopped up chocolate candies into a standard cake batter. I enjoyed watching it even though he said that he hates Peeps. Sacrilege!

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Monday, April 06, 2009

chicka boom

The first person to make a donation toward my fundraising-by-dancing efforts was my good friend Bean. He is also responsible for today's blog post.

After his wife's recent trip to Japan, Bean sent me this photo with the question, "Japanese peeps?" She had brought the Hiyoko box home as a souvenir.

While the Hiyoko confections look a lot like Marshmallow Peeps, they are actually bean cakes. The Engrish English translation of the page explains exactly how the little treats are deliberately mushed:
The secret of Hiyoko's daintiness is the carefully selected ingredients. The savory bun is made of flour from Kyushu to give a distinctive flavor. Mildly sweet yellow filling is made of fine choice of haricot beans. We select well-grown beans only and mush them deliberately. After our experienced confectioner puts the bun and filling together and bakes it in an oven until it becomes moist, melting texture, a delicious "Hiyoko" is ready for you!

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