On Circus Peanuts

I got a call a couple of weeks back from ArtScape wanting to know how I actually intend to build an 8′ to 12′ circus peanut. I was notified today that my proposal has been accepted.

So, now, I get to build an 8′ to 12′ circus peanut. It’s going to be a fabulous spring, ya?

Circus peanuts were invented sometime in the 1800’s. They taste like bananas, although Wikipedia says that they were initially orange flavored. I suppose the original maker intended to “out weird” the creator of cotton candy.  Four of the major candy manufactures still make circus peanuts, though no one seems to hold a patent. I read somewhere that they aren’t easy to make, either, because they are molded instead of extruded like other shaped candy. And they are solid marshmallow.

I remember getting these around Easter as a kid. They used to inspire the sensation of motion sickness, and I’d just let them petrify long after the good candy had vanished into my gullet. The very last memory I have of these involved a great aunt who was having some sort of diabetic fit. She pleaded with my mom for  something sweet, and you guessed it – all we had for her gullet were petrified circus peanuts.

I have another childhood memory I’d like to share with you. Our house came with a really old refrigerator in the back of the basement. It had rounded corners, kind of like a giant tombstone. One summer, my parents put something in there – maybe a cucumber or zucchini or half a snake or something from our garden.  It was forgotten until one day, I looked in the fridge and found the blackened mummified remains of whatever it was. It just sat there, haunting the cold, tombstone shaped fridge, like a forgotten petrified turd. I was obsessed with it, and, I’ll admit, a little afraid of it.

Back to the present day, I bought a bag of circus peanuts for research purposes last week. The guy in line behind me said, “I’m glad SOMEONE likes those things. I’ve never seen anyone buy them.”

“I don’t actually like them,” I replied. And then I had to explain this project. I’m going to be doing a lot of that in the next several months.

In the years since my diabetic great  aunt and mummified frozen remains of my childhood, I’ve often stopped in the store and wondered at circus peanuts. They are strangely beautiful and yet slightly horrifying, like some orange, forgotten, mummified remnant in the tombstone refrigerator of life. It is worthwhile to think about them.