Replicas of iconic landmarks or reviled democratic institutions. Imitations of human triumph and disaster. But, ultimately, this contest can be summed up in one word: nostalgia. Consider this year’s winner — as chosen by a vote of The Post newsroom — “Twinkie: Rest in Peeps.”
Few can mourn the near-loss of an iconic baked treat as do the makers of Peeps dioramas. (This month’s news that Twinkies have been rescued from bankruptcy has judges cringing at the prospects for next year’s dioramas.) The scenes re-created in dioramas capture the mood of the moment in a medium of yesteryear.
They celebrate crafting, neighborhood get-togethers and family projects, the moments when we put down our doodads and wikiwhats to build something with our hands for a community newspaper that still uses a printing press. Peeps dioramas reek of old-school Americana, even as they challenge us to ruminate on the global events of today, from the loss of an American icon to the human price of war. We received more than 650 entries this year illustrating the most memorable moments of America’s collective consciousness.
Many finalists are returning champions, stretching their creativity to new heights. Others are newcomers, emboldened by the political discord of today. Lest you think our Post Peepsters are quaint, simple crafters, be warned: Peeps contestants have something profound to say. Read on for meditations on these sugary scenes, and see art mimic life in all its glory.
“Peeps Mourn Their Peeps: Twinkie, Rest in Peeps”
At Western Albemarle High School in Crozet, Va., the Peeps contest has become an annual tradition. Lani Hoza, an advanced-placement psychology teacher, and Leslie Brown, a manager in the principal’s office, have a reputation among the students for submitting hilarious dioramas to our contest. They’ve made renditions of the Facebook game FarmVille and the Mayan apocalypse, but this year, they hatched the perfect idea: a Twinkie funeral, commemorating the popular Hostess snack.
The idea alone was wildly popular with our newsroom.
“We Googled around and looked at what has been big on social networks this year,” Brown said. “When we read there would be no more Twinkies ... we knew it would be a good diorama.”
“The challenge is finding a clever idea and executing it,” Hoza said. “We have a pretty good sense of humor. ... As soon as the contest is over, we keep our eyes open [all year] for things that happen and see if we can Peepify them.”
And Peepify they did. It took the duo 35 hours to depict chick and bunny Peeps mourning the snack cake that disappeared from store shelves — albeit temporarily — when Hostess filed for bankruptcy in November. Adding to the absurdity of the scene, the Peep Pope comes out of retirement to preside over the funeral. A Twinkie lies in a coffin and will be buried in the graveyard where, yes, other departed treats, including HoHos and fruit pies have been laid to rest before it.