If you thought Marshmallow Fluff is solely for spreading, you are sorely mistaken.
On Saturday, an estimated 15,000 people will flock to Somerville’s Union Square, where Archibald Query invented Fluff in 1917, to celebrate the sugary substance’s centennial. Fluff will, of course, be the centerpiece of the special iteration of the annual What the Fluff? Festival, now in its 12th year and always brimming with Fluff-themed activities.
“[The event] attracts all ages,” said Esther Hanig, executive director of Union Square Main Streets, the organization that puts on the festival. “People come from all over the region, all over the state. Some come from other parts of the country for the Fluff Festival.”
Fluff fans can eat their way through the day, with more than 40 local vendors preparing both sweet and savory dishes that incorporate the festival’s star. Expect Fluff popovers from The Popover Lady, Fluff ice cream from Honeycomb Creamery, Fluff empanadas from Buenas, and Fluffernutter sandwiches made by the Somerville High School Music Department.
The day’s lineup will also include a cooking contest, where competitors will battle it out for one of four awards: Best Future Chef, Most Retro Recipe, Most Inventive Recipe, and the grand prize, Centennial Winner.
However, the festival aims to prove that eating Fluff is not the only way to enjoy it. Hanig said that the main activities stage, called the “Department of Shenanigans,” is one of the event’s main attractions.
“We have our very own Archibald Query impersonator and wildly crazy Fluff games for everyone,” she said.
These include Fluff Jousting, the chance to battle an opponent on a balance beam using a Fluff-dipped pool noodle; and Blind Man’s Fluff, in which one person is blindfolded and feeds the other Fluff sandwiches.
In honor of Fluff’s big 100, this year’s festival will also focus on inspiring another century of innovation. Saturday’s event will feature a costume contest (for which Hanig said participants are to “reinvent [themselves]”), and a new area dubbed Invention Alley, where guests can experiment with laser etching and robotics with assistance from members of the Somerville High School Robotics Team and Somerville nonprofit Artisan’s Asylum.
What the Fluff Festival; Saturday, Sept. 23 from 3 to 7 p.m.; Union Square, Somerville; free; flufffestival.com