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.
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:
Find a copy if you can. The chapter on marshmallow harvesting techniques is worth the five bucks.
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.
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.
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…
Done. They’ll never run out of Fluff Boy.