Peeps Turn 60: The Sweet History Of The Popular Easter Treat


Peeps, the little marshmallow chick shaped Easter candies, turn 60 this Easter season. Peeps are now appearing in their first television ad in a decade in honor of the milestone birthday. The Just Born Incorporated plant near Philadelphia hatches about five million peeps a day at its plant.

Nearly 100 years ago Russian immigrant Sam Born started a candy company in Brooklyn. To proudly advertise the freshness of his products, Sam hung a sing outside his store that read, Just Born. The company moved to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1953 and purchased the Peeps brand from the Rodda Candy Company.

Rodda was most well-known for its jelly beans but had also developed a small line of marshmallow bunnies and chicks. The company had hired women to squeeze the sugary little creations out of pasty bags. Just Born founder’s nephew and current co-CEO David Shafer said the work was very hard and the women sure were strong.

Ross Born, co-CEO and the founder’s grandson, said that everyone seems to have a Peeps story, and they are never shy about sharing the tales. Ross noted that he has heard tons of stories from fans of the marshmallow Easter treats. Apparently, folks love to share the myriad of ways they store, eat, and decorate the pastel colored candies.

During the mid-1950s, Ross’s physicist father Bob automated the Peeps making process. The trained engineer invented an early version of a machine that is still used to make the Easter marshmallow candy today. Just Born also makes Mike and Ike, Hot Tamales, and Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews.

The Pennsylvania candy company has never had an unprofitable year. Last year the company had record sales. The growth of Just Born was reportedly more a tortoise than a hare journey. Several years ago the candy company leaders decided they wanted to accelerate the level of success and hired a new management team.

The new promotional experts dove right into the marketing realm and Just Born opted to get back into the business of making chocolate. The classic Peeps were still a top-seller, but a new version of the Easter favorite was created as well. Chocolate-dipped Peeps and Peepsters were hatched at Just Born. Peepsters a small chocolate candies filled to the brim with marshmallow-flavored cream.

In 2013, a Peeps yellow chick inside a hollow chocolate egg candy was introduced. Just Born is now focusing on not just the Easter holiday season anymore. Peeps fans can now readily enjoy the marshmallow and colored sugar treats at Christmas and around other major holidays as well.

Peeps turns 60

Unlike many other popular sweet treats, Peeps has earned heartfelt support in pop culture consciousness. Although many people, both young and old, have a favorite candy bar they must have when a chocolate craving hits, no other candy seems to have the memory-making capabilities quite like Peeps.

Fans of the spongy sugar chicks have created a new “sport” known as Peeps jousting. The little edible creatures are sent to battle inside a microwave during the competitions. Peeps arts contests are often held around America during Easter time. Entire blogs are dedicated solely to peeps. Peep recipe offerings even include a recipe for Peepza, a desert pizza.

Just Born recently opened three Peeps & Company retail stores in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. To celebrate Peeps’ 60th birthday, the company is rolling out a huge social media campaign to connect with fans. If you want to start an online war among fans, just take a side in the best way to eat Peeps debate. Apparently, there are both diehard fresh and stale fanatics.

So, how do you like to eat your Peeps?