What the Fluff?

I wrote this article on June 22, 2006 in response to the “great Fluff debate” in Massachusetts.

Let’s see . . . some of the current issues that might be deemed of no small import in Massachusetts include terrorism (and its related issues of port security, security and preparedness of the public transit system, etc.), health care in the form of the required health insurance law, crime, the so-called Mass Exodus (people are leaving Massachusetts, particularly Boston in droves), nursing shortages, gay marriage, stem cell research regulation, an economic slump related to exhorbitant housing and the exodus of Commonwealth citizens, and on and on. But the issue that makes the news, the issue that has roused one Senator from his slumber, a watershed issue that requires immediate legislation is the serving of Fluff in the Commonwealth’s public school lunchrooms. Yes, we need a law, an amendment to change this horrific travesty.

Cambridge Senator Jarrett Barrios became incensed when he learned that the “Fluffernutter” is served in his kid’s elementary school. Senator Barrios, mind you, is the chair of the Commonwealth’s Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, and although he sits on other committees, including the Public Health committee, I find it amazing that the chair of the Homeland Security committee is worried about . . . Fluff. And he’s not just worried; he’s contemplated, written, and proposed a real amendment to outlaw Fluff in schools more than once a week.

For those of you who don’t know about Fluff, and I didn’t until I moved the Massachusetts, it’s a marshmallow concoction packaged in a jar and is often slathered onto peanut butter sandwiches to create the Fluffernutter. In fact, you can purchase Fluff and peanut butter swirled together in one handy jar, just as you can get peanut butter and jelly in one jar. Fluff is 50% sugar, the other 50% is apparently vanilla extract and egg whites, so it’s essentially the same thing as a meringue; according to the Reuters story linked below, two tablespoons of Fluff contain 60 calories. And it is a fat free “food.”

Fluff has been a Massachusetts staple since the early twentieth century when a Springfield, MA man began making the stuff and selling it door to door. And now, Senator Barrios has determined that this Fluff issue needs to be addressed immediately. And the fine legislative body of Massachusetts is rallying, some in favor of Fluff, some against.

In fact, Representative Kathi Reinstein has seized her chance to make a splash in state politics and has introduced a bill that would make the Fluffernutter the state sandwich. Yes, that’s right, one waste of space bill has been responded to by a throwing down of the sticky Fluff gauntlet: I see your bill to ban Fluff, and I raise you one State Sandwich. Indeed, Reinstein—who has served on the following committees: Joint Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets; Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security; Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs—is quoted as stating, “I will fight to the death for Fluff.” Now I’ve never heard of Reinstein until this “issue,” so I’m wondering what other issues have slid under her “fight to death” radar . . . .

Now we all know that our nation’s children, like the rest of us, are becoming increasingly overweight, even obese. And we know that eating healthful foods and exercising are necessary to ensure that children, and the rest of us, do not continue to fatten up like prisoners of a fairy tale’s wicked witch. The Commonwealth’s children, though, have been eating Fluff since about 1917, so the Fluff to fat ratio may be rather limited. Certainly there are other innovations that have negatively affected our children’s weight like too much television and computer gaming and not enough exercise, but we aren’t going to ban televisions and computer use . . . yikes, or are we?

I’m not sure if Fluff even qualifies as a food, and I’m not sure what impact Fluff has on the weight and general health of our children, but I am reasonably sure that Fluff does not qualify as an important political issue.


For everything you ever wanted to know about Fluff, from its history and ingredients to mouth watering recipes: http://www.marshmallowfluff.com/pages/homepage.html

For the Reuters story on the great Fluff debate: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060622/od_nm/fluff_dc;_ylt=Aq_7GEJVWAp70DiseNIX6…

For the counter-legislation proposed by Reinstein story: http://www.theconservativevoice.com/ap/article.html?mi=D8IC8TKG0&apc=9024

For more stories on the Fluff issue: http://www3.whdh.com/news/articles/local/BO21259/ and http://www.bostonherald.com/blogs/politicsBlog/?p=151

Barrios’ .gov webpage: http://www.mass.gov/legis/member/jtb0.htm

Reinstein’s .gov webpage: http://www.mass.gov/legis/member/k_r1.htm

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