Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Peeps

Daniel Ganninger
March 28, 2018

Marshmallow peeps chicks for Easter on a white background.

If you live in the United States or Canada, you’ve probably seen the chick or bunny candy made entirely out of marshmallow that has become synonymous with Easter called Peeps. But before you go enjoying a few of them, here’s everything you could possibly want to know about this famous candy.

How Peeps Got Started

Peeps are made by the candy manufacturer Just Born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Just Born was founded by a Russian immigrant named Sam Born in 1923 in a small retail shop in New York City. He made candy daily and displayed them in his store window with a sign declaring that they had been “just born”. In 1932, Just Born moved to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and three years later acquired the Maillard Corporation, a maker of fine chocolates, mints, and jellies.

But the making of Peeps wasn’t on the radar for the company quite yet. In 1940, Just Born came out with the famous fruit flavored candy called Mike and Ike, and this was followed in 1950 by the popular cinnamon-flavored candy called Hot Tamales. Finally in 1953, Just Born acquired the Rodda Candy Company of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which made a handmade marshmallow chick. This was what became the famous Peeps.

They Used to Take a Long Time to Produce

The process of making the marshmallow chick by the Rodda Candy Company was very labor-intensive. It took 27 hours to produce one Peep. A year after acquiring the Rodda company, Bob Born, Sam Born’s son, came up with a way to mechanize the process and reduced the time to produce a Peep to six minutes. Today, 2 billion Peeps are produced per year.

Peeps Used to Have Wings

The original Peeps had wings, but in 1955, the company decided to remove the two small wings that had been attached to the Peep to make the manufacturing process easier.

There are two Peep Themed Stores

The first Peep-themed store opened in 2009 outside Washington, D.C. specializing in all things Peep related, and another opened in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. There is even a Peepsmobile, a converted VW bug that is used for promotional events.

peep mobile

There is a Peeps eating contest

It’s called the World Peeps Eating Championship and it takes place in National Harbor, Maryland. The 2017 winner, a 24-year-old named Matt Stonie, ate 255 Peeps in five minutes to break the previous world record he had set a year earlier of 200 Peeps in five minutes.

There are many different kinds of Peeps

Peeps come in many colors but they also come in many different shapes. Peeps are shaped like chicks, bunnies, pumpkins for Halloween, hearts for Valentine’s Day, and trees for Christmas. They are also dipped in chocolate and even come in mystery flavors. But the chick shape is still the most popular. Four out of five Peeps that are purchased come in the shape of a chick.

A package of Peeps marshmallow trees on an on an isolated background.

Peeps Could One Day Be a Movie

Filmmaker Adam Rifkin optioned the film and TV rights for the Peeps brand in 2014.  Rifkin’s plan at the time was to make a full-length animated feature similar to The Lego Movie that would be about a wayward Peep who loses its way before a diorama contest. He got the idea after watching his niece and nephew making a Peeps diorama.

One Thing is Still Done By Hand

The eyes on Peeps are still done by hand. Workers hand stamp each Peeps candy using a sugar frosting as they move on a conveyor line.

What’s In a Peep?

Peeps are 27 calories apiece and of course are mostly sugar. There is also corn syrup, a gelatin derived from pork, and 0.5% of the ingredients are yellow #5, a preservative called potassium sorbate, and carnauba wax.

Celebrating the New Year In Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

While New York City has the Times Square ball drop, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the city celebrates the new year with the drop of a Peeps chick. In 2017, a giant illuminated Peeps chick that weighed 400 pounds was dropped to ring in the new year. It was part of a two-day festival in Bethlehem called the PeepsFest.

Marshmallow chicks for Easter on a white background.

Sources: Just Born (1), Just Born (2), USA Today, Good Housekeeping, Fox News, Women’s Health, Rolling Stone, PR Newswire, Food & Wine

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