PEEPS! The marshmallow creatures from another world have long delighted millions with their sandpaper skins and chewy insides, but for the Christmas enthusiast, they're now available in a wide array of "holiday varieties" -- at least four different kinds, plus whichever others ones I couldn't locate. The types of holiday Peeps may number in the dozens, by my local stores know when to call it quits. When you're eating four different kinds of Peeps, you're eating enough.

First up, here's a revamped version of the original yellow birdies -- same shape and same inwardly curled beak, but now they're a bright shade of Christmas Red. More interesting than the candies themselves is the little chick drawing on the package; a bird complete with Santa cap and undersized candy cane. Apparently, the original yellow Peeps have been around for 50 years. That's a whole lotta Peep-eatin. Let's assume that 20 million people have eaten two Peeps a year for the past five decades. This equates to a staggering 2,000,000,000 Peeps consumed. The number also provides chilling visions of what a congregation of two billion Peeps would actually look like. I'm picturing the world's biggest lemon. Or our second sun. Peepsy.

The red Peeps don't look as natural as their yellow cousins, obviously. If red baby chicks exist -- and believe me, I really hope they do -- I've never seen 'em. As things stand now, they look more like what'd plop out of constipated ape's ass. It's all in the spirit of Christmas.

Here's the second holiday variety -- "Peeps Snowmen." While cute enough, the red targets on their chests seem to mark them as "in season." So, don't feel bad about killing and eating them. They're in season. Even more interesting is the fact that no two Peeps Snowmen are exactly alike. They all have minute features that separate each from the next, affording you just cause to name and keep the ones you like. No longer must you feel shame for singling out a Peep as your special friend -- now there's a clear reason to see something more in the beasts. With the trio shown above, lucky Snowman #1 got to live. I just liked the way he carried himself. The other two got to meet digestive juices. Worst consolation prize ever.

Up next, it's the Peeps "Christmas Trees." One of the only Peeps not based on a living creature, these green masses of marshmallow sludge come fully decorated with a series of colorful dots and a tree topping star that looks a lot like the preamble to a massive bout of Easy Cheese squirtation. Come on, you know what I'm saying.

Of course, the three varieties mentioned above all taste exactly alike. Try as we might to find new flavors in the colors, it's just wishful thinking. A Peep is a Peep is a Peep, and unless specifically advertised as something new and terrific, they all taste like globs of sand-covered Fluff. Fortunately, our fourth and final holiday Peeps variety creates a new page in the Peeps' Book of Flavors. What you've seen above were merely appetizers for this unbridled display of Christmas tastiness...

"Marshmallow Peeps Cutouts." Depending on your point of view, they're either supposed to represent gingerbread men or the more standard and vague "Christmas cookies." Either way, they're friggin' awesome. Sold in a different type of packaging than most Peeps, they're also a whole lot bigger, puffier, and susceptible to becoming stale. They cost more, too, but who wouldn't spare an extra fifty cents for a Peep creature that tastes like "holiday cookies?"

Indeed, that's what they taste like. Pretty good stuff, to be honest. It's also the only kind of Peep I've ever seen with a colored marshmallow middle -- they're light tan on the outside, and a bit darker on the inside. This tiny distinction makes Peeps Cutouts somehow seem ten trillion times more desirable than all of other varieties. They're way more posable than the chicks and snowmen, too.

At one time, Peeps only seemed to crawl from their reclusive hideaways during the Easter season. While the original chicks are available year round these days, you can only buy the marshmallow crap pictured above during December. Maybe you'll get lucky and find a few on clearance in January, but come on...who wants to eat a Christmas Tree Peep after Christmas? It's like shoving Craisins up a turkey's ass for Labor Day.

By the way, all of these new "holiday" Peeps perform the same great trick as the originals when placed in a microwave. DEY EXPLODE. Merry Christmas.

- Matt (12/11/03)

While it's technically still autumn, the snowstorm that swallowed up much of the Northeast last weekend was a good reminder of the coming season -- and when seasons change, so does what's on television. The changes even affected Ronald McDonald; though as sweaty and sporty as a clown could be in the summer months, Ronald always embraced winter with his matching scarf and snow hat.

You could always count on McDonald's to heighten the holiday festivities. Between giving away plastic Santa Claus figures in their "Happy Meals" to making sure every Christmas stocking from Maine to Texas was stuffed with their gift certificates, McDonald's very genuinely seemed to enjoy these holiday months. Well, at least the clown did, anyway.

The cheerful December commercials were probably the best part of the deal, with the strange citizens of McDonaldland all doing exceedingly "Christmassy" things. One in particular, titled "No Snow," was a bit less denominational. Airing at least as early as 1982, we found the familiar clown and his oddly shaped pals upset over the lack of snow, so Ronald uses a little magic to create a beautiful storm. It would've been way more breathtaking if there wasn't a talking cheeseburger and a nightmarish goblin having a snowball fight behind him.

Yes, it's Mayor McCheese and the Hamburglar. As the latter entry still pops up in their ad campaigns these days, you probably know the Hamburglar all too well. Still, back in 1982, his features were less "goofy" and plenty more creepy. Sort of a more literal "Batman." Mayor McCheese, probably the most popular of McDonald's lost mascots, looked like the father of a Solid Gold dancer who just happened to have a five foot long cheeseburger for a head. Factor in Grimace -- the purple mound of vague and indiscernible origin -- and you have to wonder if the viewing audience even noticed the snow.

I wouldn't call the gamut of McDonald's as spots "episodic," but they were oftentimes more interesting than the cartoons we watched. Regardless of anyone's opinion of their edible offerings, it's hard not to appreciate the effort that went into these commercials -- especially around the holidays. Ronald McDonald was no Santa Claus, but he certainly did more for the holiday spirit than, say, Comet and Cupid.

Click here to watch the commercial!

(click to enlarge)

12/11: SKI CRAP!

Playmobil's gift for December 11th was either skiing or hockey equipment. Not sure which. Mare snapped up the goods, seizing a helmet, skates, mittens and what's either a hockey stick, something having to do with skiing, or a giant doggy treat. Pauly Pooch held out hope for that final possibility, but no such luck -- as far as Mare's concerned, Playmobil's gifts are all for her.

Still, sometimes the best gifts come disguised. Mare's infatuation with her new toys allows Mista Snowman a chance to talk with Mysterious Boy...alone. The writing's on the wall, folks -- Mare has it out for Mista Snowman. Bad shit happens when Mare Winningham has it out for someone. If the true hero of Playmobil's Advent Calendar is going to stand a chance, he'll need some help. Will Mysterious Boy help?

Mista: Hi, Mysterious Boy. I'm Mista Snowman. I'm made of snow.

Boy: I know. Somehow, I've always known.

Mista: Hey wait a sec -- I thought you couldn't talk!

Boy: A wise man once said: "There lies a dramatic difference between those who cannot and those who will not."

Mista: Who said that?

Boy: Spock.

Mista: Listen, I think Mare wants me dead. As a snowman, I can't defend myself. When the time comes, will you help me keep on keepin' on?

Boy: Well, that depends.

Mista: Depends? On what?

Boy: How she responds to my advances tonight. You better pray that she's God fearing.

The saga continues...tomorrow.