Sunday, April 20, 2014

Ode to the Peep

I can't help it, but every year around this time, the candy I most look forward to is the sugary, sparkly, marshmallowy PEEP. And without fail, when I see them, I squeal, "Peep!"

While most people around me reach for the Cadbury Egg, chocolate bunnies or jelly beans, I will be the first person at the Easter basket to rip open the Peep carton and sample what to me is Easter candy at its finest. It was only recently that I learned that my brother felt the same way about Peeps and we instantly knew exactly why: the 99 cents store.

In the middle of 5th grade, my family moved from the steamy suburbs of Reseda to North Hollywood before it was the "NOHO Arts District." We went from a super Christian private school to a much more diverse public school that had echoes of the racial tensions bubbling in greater Los Angeles just before the 1992 riots playing out on the playground. Six months later our lives were turned upside down by the sudden split of our parents and a year after that we were sent to another school, a Catholic school, where we walked to and from school every day. The early nineties were a tough time for my family and coming home to an empty, tiny apartment with an absent parent every day was often times a somber experience. But my brother and I, along with the Nicklas kids down the street and/or our cousins who were more like saviors than kids, started a tradition on these extended walks home to give us a little boost. Every day, we stopped in the newly opened 99 Cents Store on the corner of our block where they had an entire aisle of candy - all for 99 cents and many times 2 for 99 cents. Red Vines, Reeses, Skittles, anything you wanted! In hindsight I now know that this was all very old and discounted candy that had made its way to the 99 Cents store probably after sitting on another aisle for many months. But at the time, we just thought we were the greatest candy bandits that ever lived. Peeps, with their bright yellow pinks and yellows, were always the first thing we saw and usually made it in to our loot. No matter what month, there were always Peeps, and no matter what kind of feelings came up when we walked into the door of our recently upturned lives, there was a little chick that made this whole time just a little bit easier to swallow. 

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