Tuesday was “National Fluffernutter Day.”
Every day is national something-or-other day, and we note it on the LOOK page of our paper.
Most of the time, it barely registers. I mean, who cares if it’s “National Toaster Oven” day, outside of maybe the guy who invented the thing, if he’s even still alive.
However, Marshmallow Fluff — one of the two main ingredients in the Fluffernutter — is different. I should warn you now that I’m going to keep writing that word. Marshmallow. That’s because I only learned how to spell it last year. I always thought it was “Marshmellow.”
The marshmallow is a particularly versatile confectionary treat. You can toast it (and if it’s winter, in your toaster oven). It plays a prominent role in one of the great lines in modern cinema, taken from “The Sandlot,” when Smalls betrays his ignorance to Hamilton Porter when asked if he wants a s’more (made with, naturally, marshmallows).
“How can I have s’more if I don’t have any now?” Smalls asks.
Replies “The Great Hambino,” “You’re KILLING me, Smalls.”
But the best use of the marshmallow came when it was liquified even more than it already was and turned it into Marshmallow Fluff. This, alone, is a dentist’s delight. The teeth drillers of the world all bought waterfront condos in Florida for those cold winter months up here off the amount of dental work they got due to Marshmallow Fluff.
Of course, we in Lynn get very proprietary over Marshmallow Fluff, because its humble origins occurred right here in our fair city. It dates back more than a century when Archibald Query (that’s his name) of Somerville started selling his version of his concoction (he never revealed the recipe) door-to-door.
Before too long, he sold the formula to H. Allen Durkee and Fred Mower for $500. By 1917, the two began distributing the product to markets as “Toot sweet Marshmallow Fluff.” By the 1940s, Durkee-Mower lost the French pun but kept the Marshmallow Fluff part.
Durkee-Mower remains in Lynn to this day, still produces its signature product, and is one of only three companies in North America making it.
It’s been years since I’ve eaten one, or even made one for my son, but Fluffernutters (peanut butter and fluff) were staples in the American diet around here when I was a kid. Could there possibly be an easier sandwich to make? Get a knife. Put some peanut butter on it. Slap it on one slice of bread. Get a bottle of Durkee-Mower Marshmallow Fluff. Spread some on the other slice. Put them together. Instant bliss.
It’s probably why all those dentists gobbled up beachfront property. It was either Fluffernutter or PB&J (and if you don’t know what that is, shame on you. Google it.).
If this is even possible, there were the beginnings of a turf war over Marshmallow Fluff, between Lynn and Somerville. I suppose both cities can lay some claim to it, but please. Their guy went door-to-door like some kind of snake-oil salesman. Our guys marketed it, mass-produced it, and maintain a plant in East Lynn near Kiley Park.
That hasn’t stopped Somerville from trying to horn in, though. The city has an annual festival called “What the Fluff?” And one year, Susan Olsen, who played Cindy Brady on TV, attended and sold Marshmallow Fluff-inspired art.
I don’t understand why we don’t do something like that here. What if everybody got together under the big clock in Central square, closed the whole block off, and invited Joey Chestnut and a bunch of his fellow gluttons up for a Labor Day contest, only with Fluffernutters instead of hot dogs. It probably wouldn’t rise to the level of an ESPN special, but you never know. Give it a few years and who knows what will happen.
We used to be the Shoe City, but those days are over. Most of the old shoe-making buildings — those that survived the Second Great Lynn Fire of 1981 — are now apartments and condos.
Lynn, once, had one of the most thriving General Electric aircraft engine and turbine plants in the country, and GE was easily the No. 1 employer in the city. Not anymore.
But here we are. We still have one of the three surviving confectionary plants and distributorships in the country under our noses, and how many people even know?
At least somebody does. After all, Tuesday was National Fluffernutter Day.
Makes me want to run right out and buy some, along with a jar of peanut butter, and go to town.