What the Fluff?

September 28, 2009 · 4 comments

Fluffernuter

In addition to being the location of the raising of the first American flag, my neighborhood of Union Square also holds the honor of being the birthplace of Marshmallow Fluff, invented in 1917 by Somerville resident Archibald Query. Three years later Query sold the recipe to H. Allen Durkee and Fred L. Mower, and the Durkee-Mower company has been making Fluff in Lynn, Massachusetts ever since.

The gooey white stuff hasn’t changed much since then, as you can see from this video of the manufacturing process (apologies for the Boston Globe‘s overly intrusive “web media is killing us” frameset):

Last Friday, a state legislative committee held a hearing to consider designating the Fluffernutter the official sandwich of the State of Massachusetts. Representatives have weighed in on this issue before, either heartily supporting it, or blathering about “more important issues to deal with.” (As if anything in this state happens faster than a geological timeframe. It’s a miracle we were able to appoint an interim senator in only two weeks.)

The day after the hearing marked the Fourth Annual What the Fluff? Festival, celebrating the invention of Fluff by holding a big party in the area usually occupied by the Union Square Farmer’s Market. We managed to squeeze our way through the crowd and check out the activities.

This was the list of choices for the Fluff Fear factor booth. You picked a number at randon and had to eat a cracker topped with Fluff and whatever corresponded to your choice. Fluff with clams, anyone?

This was the list of choices for the Fluff Fear Factor booth. You picked a number at random and had to eat a cracker topped with Fluff and whatever corresponded to your choice. Fluff with clams, anyone?

One of the entries in the cook-off, Fluff meringue.

One of the entries in the cook-off, Fluff meringue.

Another sophisticated cook-off entry, Fluff-banana torte with peanut butter sauce.

Another sophisticated cook-off entry, Fluff-banana torte with peanut butter sauce.

One of the ferstival sponsors was Teddie Peanut Butter, made in Revere. Bread from Iggys in Cambridge, peanut butter from Revere, and Fluff from Lynn: a perfect locavore creation.

One of the festival sponsors was Teddie Peanut Butter, made in Revere. Bread from Iggy's in Cambridge, peanut butter from Revere, and Fluff from Lynn: a perfect locavore creation.

Would-be poets submitted their odes (and haikus) to Fluff for a community vote. The winner would become the Pharaoh of Fluff.

Would-be poets submitted their odes (and haikus) to Fluff for a community vote. The winner would become the Pharaoh of Fluff.

Unfortunately, most of the fun had to be found at the edges of the festival. The majority of the crowd consisted of hipster doofuses (doofi?) milling about, waiting to buy a t-shirt emblazoned with this year’s festival logo (seen at the top of this post). Nothing, not even small children, would get in the way of their latest ironic acquisition. It brought to mind the popular townie slogan: “Welcome to Boston. Now go home.”

We wandered over to Hub Comics, where we scored the best find of the festival:

fluffboycover

Find a copy if you can. The chapter on marshmallow harvesting techniques is worth the five bucks.

4 comments

Terra September 28, 2009 at 9:12 pm

This is the second time we’ve been to the What the Fluff? festival (the first was in 2007) and it was disappointing to see that it has yet to live up to its potential. The idea clearly has strong appeal, as the throngs can attest, but there was very little there there.

Also, from anecdotal reports I’ve heard, they were running out of stuff. We got there probably between 4:30 and 5:00, and Bryan got on a (poorly defined) line to buy a t-shirt. (As you know, hipster doofus he is not – he just likes to wear t-shirts.) By the time he got to the front of the line, they were out of the t-shirt he wanted in his size and only had XXL.

Meanwhile, one of the grad students I work with went to the festival with her husband. She’s Canadian and had never had fluff before, so she wanted to try it. Her husband waited in line at the fluffernutter booth (she’s expecting, so she went off to sit down) and by the time he got to the front of the line they’d run out of bread! That’s just not right.

David September 28, 2009 at 10:42 pm

Brian is not a hipster doofus.

The merch booth was at the narrowest point in the plaza, there was no line control, too few people working the table, and not much in the way of civility.

Running out of bread is inexcusable.

Karl R. Wurst October 3, 2009 at 7:32 am

When you are next at Hub Comics, can you please pick up a copy of Fluff Boy for us (if there are any left.) Thanks.

Our big pop-culture event in Worcester was yesterday – World Smile Day – honoring Worcester’s own Harvey Ball, creator of the smiley face. Not quite as exciting as Fluff…

David October 3, 2009 at 10:55 am

Done. They’ll never run out of Fluff Boy.

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