What the Fluff? Festival - Gastro Obscura

Food Festivals

What the Fluff? Festival

The marshmallow spread's birthplace offers a quirky tribute to the sweet-sticky stuff.

Most people’s familiarity with Fluff, the sticky marshmallow spread, centers around its pairing with peanut butter in the iconic Fluffernutter sandwich. But the Fluffernutter merely scratches the surface of the culinary wonder this calorically rich, nutrient-empty spread can offer. Want proof of Fluff’s status as an under-sung gastronomic hero? Look no further than the offerings of the annual What the Fluff? Festival.

Described by organizers as “a madcap festival of people on a serious sugar buzz,” What the Fluff? is held every September in Somerville, Massachusetts, a small city just outside of Boston and the official birthplace of Fluff. Created by Archibald Query in 1917 and sold shortly thereafter to the Durkee-Mower candy company, Fluff takes humble corn syrup, egg whites, vanilla flavoring, and sugar, and whips them into ethereal marshmallowy decadence.

Meanwhile, at the What the Fluff? cooking contest, contestants transform this delightful spread into unique treats in the hopes of taking home the grand prize: a tour of Durkee-Mower. In recent years, entries to the competition have included such culinary marvels as Fluffed-up sweet potato pakoras, Flufferita pizza, and a bacon-studded tower known as “The Fluffy Elvis.”

For those without culinary prowess, the festival offers plenty of opportunities for Fluff-based merriment. There are several stages of performances, including a yearly appearance from the legendary Flufferette dance team. Meanwhile, the festival’s Department of Shenanigans offers a full lineup of Fluff-themed games, including a marshmallow toss, Fluff jousting (in which contestants balance on a beam while battling with Fluff-covered pool noodles), and Blind Man’s Fluff (in which blindfolded competitors must feed Fluffernutters to their teammates). The fashion-inclined may wish to create marshmallowy couture to compete in the yearly Fluff costume contest, while aspiring stylists can try their hand at crafting sticky styles in the Fluff hairdo challenge.

As an added bonus, the revived spirit of 145-year-old Fluff founder Archibald Query walks the yearly festival to offer fluffy joy to all. Okay, he’s a really guy in an Archibald Query costume, but the spirit of marshmallowy goodness definitely continues to live on every September.

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