Union Square asks, ‘What the Fluff’?
By George P. Hassett
As Archibald Query mixed corn syrup, sugar, dried egg white and vanillin in his Union Square kitchen in 1917, he probably never imagined his sticky-sweet confection would one day be at the center of a strange political controversy and an even stranger public tribute. But Archibald’s creation has garnered international attention lately and one Union Square non-profit organization has devised a clever way to promote the man and the square that gave birth to Marshmallow Fluff.
Union Square Main Streets (USMS) announced Friday they would produce “What the Fluff,” a Sept. 30 festival featuring artists, musical and theatrical performers, inventors and humorists paying “yummy homage to a great American foodstuff.”
The recent war of words in the Massachusetts Legislature has put Marshmallow Fluff in the spotlight.
It all began innocently enough when state Sen. Jarrett T. Barrios, D-Somerville, said he planned to offer an amendment to a bill banning junk food in school vending machines that would severely limit the serving in schools of marshmallow spreads such as Marshmallow Fluff.
But, apparently, loyalty to fluff runs deep in some politicians and state Rep. Kathi-Anne Reinstein, D-Revere, promised to file a bill that would make the Fluffernutter, a hybrid of Fluff and peanut butter, the state’s official sandwich.
Barrios dropped the issue last week and will not file the amendment.
Now, USMS will celebrate Query’s invention in original and ironic fashion. One of the wilder happenings to take place at the festival is a planned tug of war over a pool of fluff. And the participants in the tug of war? USMS Executive Director Mimi Graney has invited Barrios and Reinstein to go at it in one final clash to determine the future of fluff.
“We’re all a little conflicted over Fluff – we know it’s not the healthiest treat and yet we love it so. To help us sort out this inner turmoil we’ve called upon Senator Jarrett Barrios and Representative Kathi Reinstein to lead us in a community tug of war over a kiddie pool of Fluff,” Graney said.
Among the performers in “What the Fluff” will be the Thru the Keyhole Cuties performing as the Flufferettes, the real life 1930s radio stars who went on the air for 15 minutes every Sunday, just before Jack Benny, to perform live music and comedy skits.
Other festivities at “What the Fluff” include a science fair with presentations investigating the properties and uses of Fluff, a gallery show of Fluff inspired art, a battle of the bands for a new fluff jingle and a cooking contest of fluff recipes, Graney said.
“It will be a madcap event not to be missed,” Graney said.