By Jenny Rollins
BU News Service
More than 15,000 fans of Marshmallow Fluff descended on Somerville to celebrate the twelfth annual Fluff Festival and the hundredth birthday of the sticky stuff on Saturday.
In 1917, Somerville resident Archibald Query invented the sweet, sticky spread that quickly became a staple in the New England diet. Mimi Graney, author of “Fluff: The Sticky Sweet Story of an American Icon”, chose to put Somerville back on the map by paying homage to this quirky creation in the form of the 2006 Fluff Festival: “What the Fluff?”.
“The first one we did in 2006 had about 800 people and it’s grown incrementally since then,” said Graney.
During the fluff celebration enthusiasts jousted in fluff, dressed up as Marshmallow Fluff, stuffed themselves with fluff-inspired treats, collected the annual Fluff Fest T-shirt, and sang the Marshmallow Fluff theme song. The Flufferettes, a group of bedazzled women in fluffy, feathered corsets, did a synchronized dance, waving balls of fluff to jazzy music as the crowd cheered.
Over 40 local bakers and cooks made fluff-based confections in a cook-off. “There are fluff cakes, fluff cupcakes, fluff cookies, fluff ice cream — even just regular food with Marshmallow Fluff thrown in,” said cooking contest captain, Bess Emanuel.
Emanuel pointed out the fluff food she considered the wackiest. It was a pulled pork barbecue sandwich with barbecue fluff sauce on a fluff roll, topped with fluff slaw (a combination of coleslaw and Marshmallow Fluff). The winners of the cook-off received fluffy trophies and the grand prize winner gets a tour of the Marshmallow Fluff factory in Lynn.
“The fluff is what brings me back. The community is what brings me back,” said fifth-time volunteer and ninth-time Fluff Fest attendee Becki Worshow.
The Fluff Festival is put on by Union Square Streets as part of the Somerville Arts Council/ArtsUnion as a way to bring the community together in a series of festivals. “The tradition of Fluff Fest really represents Somerville and just how weird we are,” said Nina Eichner, special events manager for the council. “At Somerville, we try a lot of new, different things.”
Esther Hanig, the current head of the festival, also stressed that the festival celebrates Somerville’s tradition of invention. This year she and market manager Tiffany Leung, decided to add a new section to the event: an invention alley, featuring marshmallow-shooting robots from the Somerville High Robotics team, as well as other inventions from the Artisan’s Asylum.
“We want to celebrate the 100th anniversary of an invention by pushing toward 100 more years of invention,” said Hanig.