Your guide to What the Fluff? 2022

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Events

The annual celebration of Somerville’s tackiest invention will bring nearly 20,000 people to Union Square this weekend.

Pairs compete in a down hairstyle contest at the annual down festival held in Union Square in Somerville. Aram Boghosian for the Boston Globe

This Saturday, thousands of people will descend on Union Square in Somerville to celebrate a quintessential New England treat: Marshmallow Fluff.

The 17th edition What is the fluff? Festival will take over Union Square from 3-7 p.m., where more than a dozen local businesses will whip up their favorite plush-filled recipes for visitors to enjoy.

Eating Fluff is just one way to celebrate at the WTFF. There are also Fluff jousts, Fluff hairstyle, Fluff limbo and a marshmallow toss, among other activities.

Here’s everything you need to know about the 2022 edition of Somerville’s Fluff Festival, as well as a brief look back at the origins of the festival.

Fluff’s story

Somerville Hosting a Fluff Festival is no coincidence: The gooey, spreadable treat was first sold in Somerville in 1917 by Archibald Query, who whipped up batches of them in his kitchen and sold them door-to-door. In 1920, Request sold the recipe to H. Allen Durkee and Fred L. Mower, and the duo built their own business in Lynn, where Fluff is still produced to this day.

Over the years, the sweet treat has remained a New England favorite, with families often serving Fluffernutter sandwiches – fluff and peanut butter coated on white bread – or using Fluff in recipes for cakes, pies, candies, frostings and fudge.

Despite generations of New England families showing their love for Fluff, the tailoring faced something of a challenge in late 2005 when a Massachusetts state senator suggested drafting a bill to limit the consumption of Fluffernutter sandwiches in schools. In response, a state representative introduced a bill in 2006 to make the Fluffernutter the official sandwich of Massachusetts.

During the legislative battle, a Somerville resident named Mimi Graney went to city officials with an idea. Having written a book on fluff’s story, Graney suggested the hubbub on Beacon Hill was the perfect time to embrace dessert and its connection to the city. The first Fluff Festival drew a few hundred people to Union Square in 2006, and has been held annually since then by Union Square Main Streetshosting over 20,000 people at its peak.

Union Square Main Streets executive director Jessica Eshleman says she remembers growing up eating Fluffernutters and enjoys the nostalgia factor the WTFF provides.

“It captures the spirit of what Somerville is all about, in a fun, goofy, crazy way,” Eshleman said. “It’s a show. There really is no better word to describe it.

The Pharaoh coming out of Fluff at the 2011 What the Fluff? Party in Somerville.

Info Fluff Festival 2022

The theme of What The Fluff? 2022, “Back on Track,” is a nod to the festival returning to its normal setup after two years of socially distanced celebrations that have spread Fluff Fest to multiple neighborhoods during the pandemic. It was also meant to be a nod to the recently completed Green Line extension to Union Square, but unfortunately the massive shutdown of the T will prevent Green Line riders from reaching Union Square by rail until ‘See you next week.

The festival will close vehicular traffic on Somerville Avenue between Prospect and Webster streets in anticipation of the attendance of nearly 20,000 people. For those coming from out of town, parking can be scarce in the area, so public transportation — even if that means taking a Green Line shuttle — is advised.

The festival will feature three dozen vendors set up along Somerville Avenue as well as two main stages, which will host some of the signature events. The Shenanigans Stage will provide entertainment and games, while the Fluff ‘n Jam Stage will feature live music and presentations throughout the day.

In Eshleman’s experience, two of the most eye-catching (and messy) events are Fluff Jousting and Fluff Hairdos. For the jousting event, competitors stand on a low beam and hit each other with pool noodles dipped in Fluff until someone concedes. Fluff Hairdos, on the other hand, is exactly what it sounds like – festival staff use Fluff to create a ridiculous style that will leave you smelling like marshmallows.

It’s all a little weird, which Eshleman says fits perfectly with the city’s creative and artistic core, encouraged for years by former Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone.

“He encouraged everyone who was doing events to get weird,” Eshleman said. “I love his quote from the late ’90s, when he said ‘Our monsters are better than your monsters.'”

If you’d rather have Fluff inside your body than out, the festival will host a dozen food-focused vendors, including Honeycomb Creamery and Gracie’s Ice Cream, which is famous for offering all of its cream flavors. icy with a covered Fluff -Cone all year round.

Marshmallow Fluff is the star of the annual What the Fluff? (main streets of Union Square)

Outside of the festival area, many restaurants near Somerville will be serving Fluff-filled food and drink during and in the days leading up to the festival. Stop by Remnant Brewing at the Bow Market to try their Barrel Aged Stout “The Great Kerfluffle”, head to El Potro Mexican Grill for fluff churros, or pop into the Vinal General Store for a tangy Fluffernutter. A complete list of participating restaurants is available on the Fluff Fest website.

Eshleman looks forward to older and younger generations tuning in this weekend, merging those who grew up eating Fluffernutters and those who are just discovering this indelible part of New England cuisine.

“For those of us who grew up with marshmallow fluff, the nostalgia is almost palpable,” Eshleman said. “And for those who didn’t grow up with marshmallow fluff, there’s the excitement of experiencing it for the first time and sharing it with those who already love it.”

(What The Fluff? 2022; Saturday, Sept. 17, 3-7 p.m.; Somerville Ave., Somerville; free; flufffestival.com)

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