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Marshmallow vs. Marshmallow: A Halloween Throwdown

26 October 2010 One Million Watts 8,492 views 4 CommentsPrint This Post Print This Post Email This Post Email This Post

Here we go. It’s going to be a marshmallow throwdown. Two chocolate-covered marshmallows, both of them shaped as pumpkins. Russell Stover and Peeps. One will be declared victorious. The other will be shamed in the only way marshmallows can be shamed — by publicly calling them out on the Internet.

On the left side, we have Russell Stover. The first thing that comes to mind is some advice my mother used to always give me. Well, she had lots of advice, like don’t eat egg salads at picnics because they’ve been sitting in the sun. And I extend that to indoor egg salads, too. The egg salad is always the culprit.

The other advice was to never settle for any chocolate less than Russell Stover. The standard of all chocolate. Not even Gourmet Swiss Truffle Balls were good enough. And think about it. Really. Truffles do suck.

So for me, the words “Russell Stover” spell quality. And they’re written in a faux-cursive, which means it’s fancy. Of course, I’m being somewhat tongue-in-cheek. I mean, Russell Stover is just cheap pharmacy store chocolate. I think my mother was scorned by a guy that gave her a box of Whitman’s. Still, I have high expectations for their orange marshmallow pumpkin.

On the right, we have Peeps, another pharmacy candy classic, made by Just Born. Peeps have only just recently gotten into the chocolate game. For years they were known only for those marshmallow chickens in rows of five. The debate over whether Peeps are better stale or fresh is legendary, and for the record, I side with those who favor them stale.

Over the years, Just Born started pumping out ghosts and cats and bunnies to their marshmallow lineup, and this year, they’ve added chocolate-covered marshmallows.

Now let’s have a look at the candy itself:

Marshmallow 01

Russell Stover takes the elegant route. The chocolate is darker in color with a drizzled look. Overall, this guy is a bit heavier and just feels more solid. While the Russell Stover chocolate is hearty, the Peeps chocolate is slightly cracking out of the wrapper.

Marshmallow 02

However, the Peeps pumpkin also wins me over with the cute carved face. The chocolate is greasier and smudges to the touch, which also gets on my fingers.

Marshmallow 03

Going in, I knew that the Russell Stover pumpkin had an orange marshmallow inside, as advertised on the packaging. So when I sliced open the Peeps chocolate, I was surprised to find orange marshmallow inside of it as well.

As far as taste, the Russell Stover is a richer, velvety chocolate. The orange marshmallow is orange flavored. I’m a big fan of the orange/chocolate combo, and this is great.

Marshmallow 04

As for the Peeps, the chocolate is good, but somewhat tasteless compared to the Russell Stover chocolate. It’s clearly acting as a shell for the marshmallow, which is the main show here. This one is regular-flavored, but the texture is fluffy and airy. And as you can see in the second photo, the marshmallow is glistening, moist, and spongy. And if I was describing a Kleenex tissue using those words, it would be horrible.

Someone once asked me if I thought it was grosser to describe a tissue using the words “used” or “moist.” I’m not sure why they were thinking about it. Perhaps they were pondering Mark Twain’s quote, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

But it was one of those questions that just stuck in my head. Moist or used? A few years ago, I had the opportunity to put that question to the test.

I was riding the D.C. Metro i to an evening class. It was winter and I was underground. The changes in pressure and temperature were affecting my sinuses. Sitting there on the train, I felt a faint drip. So I started sniffling. But it was getting worse and starting to run. Without tissues, I had no choice but to be completely disgusting and use the back my hand, which was freezing and felt like a chapped claw. That’s when I saw it: A streak of blood.

I frantically asked if anyone had a tissue. A few people started digging, producing nothing. It was only getting a worse, a river gushing from my nose. Finally a man found a crumpled tissue … in his coat pocket. I didn’t have a choice. I’m telling you, I didn’t have a choice. It looked used, but not moist. And at that moment, I decided that moist would have definitely been worse.

You thought you were reading about pumpkin marshmallows and ended up reading a gross story about a nosebleed. Whoa. That glistening orange Peeps marshmallow gave me some PTSD flashbacks or something. But I think you’ve learned a lot today.

Let’s recap.

1. Avoid the egg salad.
2. Go with the Russell Stover. It’s better.
3. Take tissues.

Shel M. Carrigan

This piece originally appeared in Shel’s terrific blog The Surfing Pizza, alongside a bunch more sweet Halloween pieces you’ve got to devour.


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  1. I, for one, fully appreciate the sacrifice you made by ingesting these substances to bring us this detailed, “from the field” report. BUT, I enjoyed the, “moist” tissue discussion far more and hope you’ll find the time to investigate this further in a future missive.

  2. LOVE your work! Thank you for your investigation.

  3. No, sorry dude, cannot agree: in my humble opinion, Russell Stover’s chocolate sucks, big time (can’t vouch for Peeps’ chocolate, but I KNOW Russell Stover’s); tastes like brown plastic soaked in High Fructose Corn Syrup. You’re probably from back East, or the Midwest, where you folks have been deprived of the proper chocolate experience: See’s! Ghiradelli! Etc. (not a brand name, just a little something meaning “and so forth” in Latin)! The ONLY way to get real chocolate, short of going to Europe (well, okay, I guess Hershey’s deserves some mention, but aren’t they one of the ones on the bandwagon to make the FDA let them “re-define” chocolate, so they can use weird, cheaper alternatives to actual cacao pod products, and are therefore evil?), is to make it properly in cool, dry-ish environments, like central to northern California. See’s is okay, even though it’s based in southern California, because it’s made in a climate controlled facility.

    But dude, really, Russell Stover’s is awful. Get some real chocolate between your cheek and gum! ;->

    CA Chocolate Lover

  4. I love your passion @Branwyn. You got me. I’m in Baltimore. We do not know chocolate, it’s true. I grew up on the stuff made of vegetable oil as the main ingredient (RM Palmer candies in PA).

    I love that description, “brown plastic soaked in high fructose corn syrup.” Haven’t you seen Corn Refiner’s Association’s ads? It’s now known as the all natural sounding “corn sugar.”

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