The circus peanut.
It is quite possibly the worst allegedly edible treat imaginable.
No, not imaginable. And not quite possibly. And it’s not a treat. Let’s revise that:
The circus peanut is the worst allegedly edible thing.
You might argue for some exotic ethnic food like lutefisk. (“LOOT-eh-fisk.”) What’s that, you ask? It’s Finnish. For more, let us consult Wikipedia: Lutefisk is dried whitefish (normally cod, but ling and burbot is also used) treated with lye. The first step is soaking the stockfish in cold water for five to six days (with the water changed daily). The saturated stockfish is then soaked in an unchanged solution of cold water and lye for an additional two days. The fish swells during this soaking, and its protein content decreases by more than 50 percent, producing a jelly-like consistency. When this treatment is finished, the fish (saturated with lye) is caustic, with a pH of 11–12. To make the fish edible, a final treatment of yet another four to six days of soaking in cold water (also changed daily) is needed. Eventually, the lutefisk is ready to be cooked.
What the fuck were the Finns thinking?! It uses lye. It’s gelatinous. It’s old stodgy white fish. But guess what? You know precisely what you’re getting when you order it. No false advertising. Nobody orders lutefisk then sends it back for being old fermented gelatinous bleached fish. That’s what the fuck it is. You don’t like the looks of it, the texture of it, the smell of it, the description of it…don’t order it.
But the circus peanut. It’s sold as candy. As a treat for children. And it’s even sculpted into a reasonable facsimile of a peanut. Imagine if you took a hunk of lutefisk, infused it with lots of sugar, painted it orange, then sold it to children as candy. That would be a fucking sin. As is the circus peanut.
I once ordered what I thought was a cream-filled donut from a bakery while in Kobe, Japan. When I bit into the donut, I found a very juicy, very savory, spiced sausage. When you think you’re getting Boston Cream and you end up with a Japanese hot dog…that’s a circus peanut.
Lutefisk might use lye, but the circus peanut is a lie.
The circus peanut is an unnatural orange color. That color occurs nowhere in nature. I’m sure ingesting it causes cancer.
The circus peanut claims to be marshmallow, but the texture is much closer to what I imagine would happen if a person was granted a wish to make a hunk of Styrofoam alive…then the person bit the damn thing.
The circus peanut isn’t peanut flavored. Nobody seems to have a problem with this. Oh, and they claim it’s banana flavored, but screw them on that as well. I don’t taste misnamed legume. (The peanut is not a nut.) I don’t taste banana. I just taste…circus peanut. Perhaps an intelligent but somehow self-respecting universe conspired to form the earth which then conspired to make humans which then made circus peanuts because the universe couldn’t bring itself to lie so brazenly but some crazy-looking white-haired Caucasian god-figure in the heavens demanded a circus peanut. Seems about as plausible as the circus peanut.
The circus peanut cannot become stale. Archeologists recently unearthed a circus peanut on an ancient, remote site…but it’s hard to attribute a date to the circus peanut. Nearby biological material, which appears to be the blood of early bipeds who committed suicide after biting into said circus peanut, was dated to approximately 13,000 BC. One of the archeologists attempted to eat the discarded, perhaps haunted, circus peanut and found it to be fairly fresh. She then committed suicide. True story.
Today, Spangler Candy is one of the few places still making the circus peanut. I found this lovely article, which you should read in its entirety, right here. It’s a quick, somewhat compelling read. If, however, you don’t feel like clicking through and learning the lurid details of recent circus peanut history, I’ve taken a couple of quotes which stood out to me. You’re welcome.
- “I’m not a big fan,” admits Kerr, vice president of operations for Spangler Candy, one of the few remaining makers of circus peanuts.
(I know he’s holding back here. Still, that’s the best thing he, the VP of operations, can come up with. Yikes.)
- Circus peanuts have become a cult item much like Peeps — the marshmallow chicks and bunnies, says Steve Almond, a self-described candy addict who wrote Candyfreak, a memoir that chronicles candy making in America. He calls them “a mixture of fascination and disgust. It’s a completely baffling candy.”
(Fascination and disgust. Baffling. Yup, from the self-described candy addict. I’ve been one of those. One time I made a double decker Reese’s peanut butter egg sandwich…that’s two Reese’s peanut butter eggs between two Reese’s peanut butter eggs…and ate it in one bite. I regretted that the morning after. One time I ate an entire family sized package of Oreos within one hour. No milk. I know, savage. I’ve won eating contests. But seriously, the circus peanut is an outrage that not even I, not even Steve Almond “Joy,” can support.)
- “There are few candies that actually have survived as long as circus peanuts,” says Jon Prince, owner of wholesale candy retailer www.candyfavorites.com. “It’s not so much candy as it’s Americana.”
(That’s the most positive thing that’s ever been said about the circus peanut. It’s not so much food as it is a relic of past generations. The nostalgia is so strong that it confidently strides up to the orange-ish, spongy, grotesquely sweet and falsely flavored “nut” and punches it in the face. “But you’re not candy,” said the Mary Jane. “Fuck you, yes I am,” said the Circus Peanut, and then proudly punched a girl as well.)
- Next Easter, the company will team with Disney on a nationwide distribution of Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and Tigger candies. They’ll come in cotton candy, cherry, banana and lemon flavors. The hope is it will attract more children to eat what is “an old person’s candy,” says Kirk Vashaw, Spangler’s vice president of contract businesses. Still, circus peanut sales were up last year and have increased 10% this year, Vashaw says. Not bad — and yet another mystery — considering candy sales have been flat lately. “We’re a little perplexed why it’s going up,” he says. “The circus peanut is such an enigma. It’s hard to tell what’s going to happen to it.”
(They’re going to Disneyfy it, try to make it palatable to those kids sitting on the circus peanut fence. And you know what? The strategy will likely work. We’re not that smart, humans. Not when emotions and nostalgia are involved. Wait. It occurs to me here, particularly after I reread everything that precedes, that the circus peanut really is a brilliant Trump analogy. Make America Circus Peanut again.)
In conclusion, do whatever you want to do with your digestive system, but for white Jesus’ sake, please don’t force the circus peanut on the rest of us.
(This is a cafe press image. Cafe press is awesome.)