With the arrival of spring each year comes baseball games, blooming flowers, and rows upon rows of those multicolored marshmallow confections known as Peeps. A staple of Easter baskets for decades, there are few among us who haven’t eaten a row or two in a single sitting, then basked in the glow of a sugar rush like no other.
Peeps have a long history, dating back to the 20s, when they were actually made by hand in a process that took considerable effort. Then, in 1953, the Rodda Candy Company sold the rights to the Just Born candy company, makers of such movie theater mainstays as Hot Tamales and Mike and Ike. They developed a process to mass-produce Peeps, lowering the production time from several hours to a much more reasonable six minutes. Just Born also determined that there was a market for Peeps year-round and, in the 60s, began to introduce different shapes, such as bats and pumpkins for Halloween. Today, they are sold for just about every holiday – red and green for Christmas, red, white and blue for Independence Day and so forth. As a result, Peeps now carry the slogan “always in season” to remind buyers of their increased availability.
The original version is still the best-seller, however, with the pastel-colored confections sold in packages containing a row of five or ten Peeps. Besides eating them in mass quantities, they are often used for decorations, as well as science experiments – such as studying the effects that a microwave oven has on the little critters. Many kids have the experience of crowding around a microwave and watching these candy chickens grow to seemingly gargantuan proportions. Should you try this yourself, be forewarned that after about 45 seconds of cooking, they have a tendency to pop, leading to a daunting cleanup of said oven.
(Helpful tip: You might also be interested to know that, like any other marshmallow, Peeps are delicious when roasted over an open campfire)
With over 200 websites devoted to Peeps, along with annual eating and photo contests, their popularity shows no signs of slowing. It is said that if you laid all the Peeps eaten each year side-by-side, they would easily circle the globe. That’s a lot of Peeps. And, although you can find them throughout the year, they still seem to taste a little better when spring rolls around, a welcome confection to greet us after a long and cold winter.
If you have fond memories of looking into your Easter basket and discovering a nest of Peeps, or if you have some microwaving experience you would like to share, we welcome all of your recollections in our comments section, as we tip our hats to these candy treats of our collective childhood, still going strong after over a half-century.