As a subject for classification, the circus peanut presents a formidable challenge, not least because of Foundation associate Dr. S.V.W. Lucianovic’s assertion that the circus peanut is usually shaped like a circus penis. But a peanut by any other name or shape would smell as weird, alas; its customary flavor is impossible to classify, its neither-fish-nor-fowl texture an off-putting artifact of the space age.
The particular product that arrived at our labs, the Spangler Colored Circus Peanut assortment sold by SweetGourmet.com, did not aid us in our quest for understanding; the bag sported a sticker for the website, but no nutritional information. Nor could we imagine what marketing dolt let the word “colored” past without a “multi-” prefix or a last-minute edit to “confetti.” The product page did enlighten us somewhat, however; the ingredients list is short and relatively straightforward (i.e. consists mostly of sugar and gelatin, versus the shuttle-program polymers we often discover in novelty foods), although the proportion of serving size (42g) to sugar (39g) is alarming. Although not terribly surprising.
The product page also proposed a different flavor profile for various peanut tints than our anecdotal evidence suggested. The least horrendous selection, the white peanut, did taste strongly of vanilla (or, rather, “vanillin”), and we correctly guessed the yellow peanut meant “lemon,” but thanks primarily to its yellowness; the actual flavor is closer to a chalky, cakey Peep, a product whose flavoring derives primarily from its dusting of sugar and not from particular color assocations.
The idea that the pink peanut signified “cherry” is baffling, though. An initial chewable-Pepto taste quickly gave way to a strong sugarless-bubblegum note. The orange peanut had a similar gummy savor, this one verging more into baseball-card gum nestled in aged Play-Doh, but in no way did it suggest banana. Our assigned researcher is not among the loathers of fake-banana flavoring, but preferences aside, it’s not a difficult taste to identify; like an actual banana in a smoothie, artificial banana will dominate and control every other palate note around it. The orange peanut had not even a hint of banana.
The Spangler circus peanut might make a good gag gift — literally — or serve as mini-dildo confetti, should you find a use for that. Perhaps you attend a lot of deeply depressing bachelorette parties. But the disorienting texture and mysterious (and unpleasant) taste make for the snacking equivalent of the RealDoll.