Sunday, April 08, 2001

Peeps sweet for prankster

Pleasant Ridge woman is on a mission: To fill yards with sugary Easter treats

By Jim Knippenberg
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Here's a good reason not to move into Sue Heidel's neighborhood: You could wake up Easter morning with a flock of Peeps roosting on the lawn.

        Ms. Heidel is on a mission: “We're dedicated to the Peeping of America.”


[photo] Sue Heidel and her favorite decorating accessory: Peeps
(Joseph Fuqua II photo)
| ZOOM |
        Every Easter eve, she and a few friends gather for cocktails. Once the liquid courage does its work, the group takes hundreds of Peeps (purchased a year earlier and incubated to the proper degree of staleness) and sticks ornament hangers in their gooey little heads.

        Then, they dress in black and go a'Peeping. Like thieves in the night but maybe more effective: They've never been caught.

        “We pick five to seven houses, always people who wouldn't dream of having anything so tacky on their lawns, and hang them from tree branches, mailboxes, porch railings, lamp posts, window boxes, anything we can find.”

        The ornament hangers were their first “process improvement — and a great one. ... We used to impale them, but this is faster, and you don't get that gooey crap all over your hands.

        “We consider this an important mission.”

        A long-standing one, too. The Peeping began about 15 years ago in a “late-night bowling league that didn't even start 'til midnight, so you know we were pretty loose by the time it got going. One year, someone brought some Peeps and we all agreed that they're like the plastic grass in Easter baskets — meant to be thrown away.

        “Well, let's just say beer and Peeps don't mix. An impromptu food fight broke out with Peeps flying across alleys, down the gutters, into the ball-return shoots. Luckily, it was late and whoever was running the bowling alley had other problems to deal with.

        “But we had some left over from the fight, so as we were leaving, we started Peeping car antennae and hood ornaments.”

        Thus began a tradition that annually involves about 500 Peeps nesting on the manicured lawns of Pleasant Ridge where this 39-year-old GE Capital project manager lives.

        “We use all the colors and recently started adding huge orange carrots. They look good with bunny prints.”


        “We took a 3-foot poster board and cut out a bunny footprint. We lay it on the driveway, sprinkle flour and then spray with water, then repeat it all the way up the driveway. It gets like glue and lasts three weeks. Kids love it. Parents love it at first, but after a couple weeks they kind of don't.”

        Sometimes, the Peepers get Peeped. “It happened to me. Someone filled my window sill with Peeps. In the morning, I opened my drapes and had a row of beady eyes staring back.”

        Sometimes, it backfires. Like the year they impaled Peeps on bamboo skewers and stuck them all over someone's yard. Next day the Peeps were gone and there was a neighbor dog with a fierce tummy ache.

        “That's not as bad as the Peep-a-roni pizza.”


        “We took my friend Amy to LaRosa's for her birthday and slipped some Peeps to the waitress. She arranged it so nicely, one Peep in the middle of each slice. Later, when Amy got married, I made her a centerpiece out of Peeps.

        “It's all part of the mission.”

        So is answering a few questions, before somebody comes chasing her.

        If there were no such thing as Peeps, I'd ...

        Oh jeeze. I'd have to find some other way to terrorize friends and family. Maybe lawn ornaments or something equally tacky.

        If someone 20 years ago had told me I'd be Peeping America, I ...

        Would have said that sounds about right. I was always toilet papering someone in high school. Anything to shock and surprise in a funny way. People complain, but I think they secretly like it.

        My favorite Peep torture ...

        Probably the time we put carpet staples in their necks to make wreaths for people's front doors. I also like to put them in the freezer and then eat them.

        Peeps are best for eating or decorating because ...

        Definitely decorating. Because of their bright colors and low cost.

        My favorite Peep moment ...

        Probably the Peep-a-roni pizza, because it made my friend so happy. To see Peeps in the middle of August, sweating it out on a steaming pizza, it's pure fun.

        The best reaction to Peeping we ever got ...

        When my friend's sister called to thank us for the bunny prints. That, and the thanks you get from kids.

        One Peep prank I want to try but haven't ...

        Ooooh, I don't know. Whatever it is, I'm not afraid to try it. There's very little downside to Peeping. ... The bottom line is, if I think of it, I try it.

        One I shouldn't have tried ...

        Keeping the Peeps too low to the ground. They really aren't good for dogs.

        If one Peep is good and two are better, 500 are ...

        Nirvana. A party waiting to happen. No, a Peeping waiting to happen.

        One thing you should have asked but didn't ...

        About when I lived out of town for five years and the times when I didn't come home for Easter. I'd get piles of Peeps crammed into an envelope. By the time I got them, they were pulverized. Just powdered mush. Pity the people at the Post Office.


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