Colored eggs and chocolate bunnies be damned, for many, no treats say Easter quite like the chick-shaped marshmallow confections knows as Peeps. This Easter, the pop-culture holiday sensation will be 60 years old, with no intention of retiring.
Power to the Peeps!
Just Born Inc. has been making Peeps since 1953. And while growth has been slow compared to other companies, it has never lost money and closed with record profits in 2012. Sweet things, it appears, are resistant to recession.
In that time, the humble, unassuming marshmallow chick has gained pop icon cult status. A new holiday TV ad for the confections — the first produced in a decade — features a young boy, listing all the things the candies are used for in our instant-fame, internet culture:
“You can eat ‘em, smash ‘em, microwave ‘em, deep fry ‘em, roast ‘em on a stick,” the boy says. “[Make] historically accurate Peeps dioramas … Peeps pop art … You can make a Peeps topiary … Peeps jousting … hide-and-go Peeps … Peepshi — that’s sushi made out of Peeps.”
The Peeps story
About 90 years ago, a Russian immigrant named Sam Born started Just Born candies, selling his confections out of a storefront in Brooklyn, New York. Later, without being aware of the irony, the company — whose best-selling item would one day become the iconic candy of Easter — moved to Bethlehem.
In 1953 it acquired Rodda Candies, best known for its jelly beans. However, Rodda also made chick- and bunny-shaped marshmallow confections. And the rest is history.
In the early days, the little chicks and bunnies were hand-squeezed from pastry bags by women that, according to the company’s current CEO, Ross Born, “were really strong.”
A few years later, Ross’s father, Bob Born, a physicist and engineer, invented a machine to automate the process. Today, the machines that extrude the marshmallow treats are a variation on Bob Born’s original device.
Today, Just Born, Inc. also makes Mike and Ike, Hot Tamales and Goldenberg’s Peanut Chew candies.
Microwaving Peeps has become a passion for some. Watching the innocent little marshmallow chicks expand and explode provides endless amusement for many. Often, armed with toothpicks, the marshmallow chicks go down fighting as they expand to meet death in a splash of oozing goo.
Here are only a few of the choice videos featuring the sweet birds that are running rampant on YouTube. Enjoy.