Wednesday, February 4, 2009

PEEPS


In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought we should know a little something about the other candy, the non-chocolate one.

Originally manufactured by hand by the Rodda Candy Company, PEEPS were made of marshmallow, sugar, gelatin, and carnauba wax and took 27 hours to make by squeezing the marshmallow mixture out of a pastry tube. In 1952 Rodda was purchased by Just Born, a chocolatier in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Just Born got it’s name because Sam Born, the Russian immigrant who made the chocolate and invented the machine that automatically places sticks in lollipops, used to put a sign “Just Born” in his shop window when he had a new batch of chocolates ready.

Soon after acquiring Rodda, Bob Born, Sam’s son, invented a machine to mass produce PEEPS. With that, it only takes six minutes. First, the ingredients are mixed and melted into a slurry which is then whipped until the marshallow is light and fluffy. The machine then squishes out the whipped mixture into shapes on a conveyor belt loaded with colored sugar. They go through a wind tunnel sort of thing which evenly coats the PEEP with color. Finally, they end up in the decorating room where the eyes and other decorations are still applied by hand.

The first PEEP was a yellow chick, thus the name. Bunnies and other colors, pink and white, came next. Eventually other shapes were added with different colors to coincide with holidays so that PEEPS are in season all year round. Now they have chocolate-filled PEEPS and Easter eggs with a baby PEEP inside. They even have pumpkin PEEP decorating kits for Halloween. And, starting in 1999, some PEEPS come in vanila and strawberry cream flavors.

Some interesting tidbits about PEEPS:

Just Born produces enough PEEPS in one year to circle the earth, twice.

Yellow is still the best selling color for PEEPS chicks and bunnies.

There has been a PEEP Off, a cooking contest, held in Maryland on the first Sunday after Easter every year since 1994.

In 2008, PEEPS were added to the winning entry in the Grilled Cheese Invitational in Los Angeles.

Several newspapers, such as the Seattle Times, Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune, hold annual PEEPS diorama contests.

People enjoy there PEEPS in all sorts of ways, swimming in hot chocolate because they float upright until they dissolve, aged so they’re crunchy, roasted so they’re gooey, and frozen. Just don’t try to toast them over a campfire. The sugar burns too easily, making them inedible.

Oh, so you know, Just Born also manufactures Mike and Ikes, Hot Tamales, Peanut Chews and Teenee Beanee Gourmet Jelly Beans.

5 comments:

Bronwyn Green said...

When my son was about three he got some little chick peeps from the Easter bunny and happily bit the head off one. All of a sudden, he stared at the little headless chick body, spit out the head and began to cry. He was so upset that he'd "killed the peep" and begged me to fix it. So I had to try to reattach the little chick head and he wouldn't touch the rest. It was so sad and so sweet. I can't look at peeps without seeing his big blue eyes all filled with tears.

Regina Carlysle said...

My kids are grown and I still buy them peeps every Easter. The colors are all so pretty that I tend to overdo and buy too many. Now, I must try the chocolate filled ones. Have you tried em? Next time I go to the store I'm checking to see if they have valentine peeps. What are they? Little hearts or cupids? Hmm.

Amarinda Jones said...

Peeps? I have never heard of this but then you constantly fascinate me with what you find ouy

Molly Daniels said...

I never could stand Peeps. Although, I love marshmallow cream in my hot chocolate...I might try that idea next time we end up with some!

Anny Cook said...

Until I was grown, those were the only kind of candies we had for Easter. No jellie bellies.

Cool post!