The iconic chick and bunny-shaped Easter treats known as marshmallow Peeps were first hatched in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania where they’ve been delivered by the Just Born confectioners since Easter 1953.
Back then, it took about 27 hours for just one single peep to be hand-crafted but today, modern machines pump one out in six minutes flat.
To make them, huge machines at their PA plant combine a whole lot of sugar with colored dye to coat the Peeps before meeting them further down the line on the conveyer belt. On another section of the birthing machine, marshmallow travels through a series of tubes until it’s covered by the sugar and individual pieces pop out in those familiar, simple shapes. They then enter a second sugar shower and, finally, relax and cool down in a sugar “bath.” All the sugar!
Peeps line up to receive their dead, soulless eyes and are shoved in rows of brightly colored paper and plastic packages.
VIDEO: Behind the scenes at the Peeps factory
The sugary delights are so popular that over five million a day – or two billion a year – are sold around the country. They’re available in 42 different flavors and varieties including Peeps covered, filled and dipped in milk chocolate, dark chocolate, orange, lemon or crème fudge.
There are flavors not found in nature like blue raspberry, sour watermelon, cherry limeade, and dessert and sugar-packed treat flavors like bubblegum, cotton candy and party cake. Fruit fans will be relieved to know that the marshmallows come in blueberry, coconut, lemon, orange, strawberry and raspberry.
Classic chicks decorate pharmacy shelves in shades of blue, green, lavender, orange, pink, white, and yellow. They’re even available sugar free, which is great considering the party cake flavor will run you a full 34 grams of sugar per serving.
They’re such a staple this time of year that The Washington Post has been hosting a diorama contest centered around the mini treats since 2006. 2016’s winner was a creepy peep into the mind of Donald Trump.
Send a Letter to the Editor