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For someone who considers herself to be a health-conscious foodie, I have a few favorite foods that are out of character. Yes, I love homemade bread, berries, apples, sweet corn, asparagus, and heirloom tomatoes, but I also have a relationship bordering on obsession with cold breakfast cereal.
Breakfast cereal, in my opinion, is best enjoyed sans milk. I keep a box of Multigrain Cheerios or Trader Joe’s O’s in my office at all times, for afternoon snacking. So far, not so bad—not much sugar, and the added vitamins and iron supplement my mostly vegetarian diet. But my favorite cereal is what I eat for dessert: Malt-O-Meal Marshmallow Mateys.
For the uninitiated, Malt-O-Meal makes a variety of cereals that are cheaper versions of other brands. My beloved Marshmallow Mateys are similar to Lucky Charms, except you can buy them in a 38 ounce bag (for comparison, a box of Lucky Charms is 11.5 ounces). I don’t know why I am so enamored with sugar coated puffed wheat mixed with dehydrated marshmallows. It confuses Mike too, as he watches me methodically eat my way through bag after bag. “I just don’t get it,” he says, shaking his head. “It’s not like they’re some kind of wonder food.”
Although cold breakfast cereal, by sheer volume, is my most frequently consumed food that I love in spite of myself, I reserve a whole separate level of adoration for Peeps. In the not-so-distant past of my childhood, I only ate Peeps once a year. I got a box of yellow marshmallow chicks in my Easter basket and that was it. However, the times they are a'changin'. During the past year, I’ve eaten ghost-shaped Peeps at Halloween and mint-flavored chocolate dipped and gingerbread-flavored Peeps at Christmas. I managed to avoid buying any Peeps in the lead up to Valentine’s Day, but couldn't pass up a package of vanilla-flavored hearts once it was marked down 50%. Now that we are in the prime Peep season, I can contemplate yellow, pink, green, blue, and orange bunnies and chicks. I’m sure that the celebration of every holiday with kitschy marshmallows says something negative about American food culture. But I don’t care. Biting through the artificially-colored sugar crust into the gooey corn syrup-based interior is a delicious reminder that I should never take myself too seriously.