by Jennifer M Woods, Mental Floss
You know whether you prefer chicks to bunnies, fresh to stale, or plain to chocolate-covered. But there’s a lot you may not know about Peeps, everyone’s favorite (non-chocolate) Easter candy.
1. IT USED TO TAKE 27 HOURS TO MAKE A PEEP.
That was in 1953, when Sam Born acquired the Rodda Candy Company and its line of marshmallow chicks. Back then, each chick was handmade with a pastry tube. Just Born quickly set about automating the process, so that it now takes just six minutes to make a Peep.
2. AN AVERAGE OF 5.5 MILLION PEEPS ARE MADE EVERY DAY.
All of them at the Just Born factory in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In one year, the company makes enough peeps to circle the earth—twice!
3. YELLOW CHICKS ARE THE ORIGINAL PEEP, AND STILL THE FAVORITE.
Yellow bunnies are the second most popular color/shape combination. Pink is the second best-selling color.
4. THE RECIPE HAS STAYED PRETTY MUCH THE SAME.
The recipe begins with a boiling batch of granulated sugar, liquid sugar, and corn syrup, to which gelatin and vanilla extract are later added. (You can take a virtual factory tour here).
5. THE EQUIPMENT HAS ALSO (MOSTLY) STAYED THE SAME.
Since Just Born turned Peeps-making into an automated process, the chicks have been carefully formed by a top-secret machine known as The Depositor. Created by Sam Born’s son, Bob, The Depositor could manufacture six rows of five Peeps apiece in a fraction of the time it took workers to form them by hand. And that same machine that Bob built has been keeping the Peeps flowing ever since. Until rather recently …
In 2014, the company announced that it was planning to renovate its manufacturing plant, including The Depositor. “It’s a little sad,” vice president of sales and marketing Matthew Pye told Candy Industry Magazine. “Bob Born made it from scratch in 1954 and it allowed us to distribute and grow the brand nationally.”
6. THE NEW EQUIPMENT COULD MEAN NEW PEEPS INNOVATIONS.
“The investment in our marshmallow making process will allow for more efficiency, more consistency, improved quality, and additional innovation capabilities,” co-CEO Ross Born told Candy Industry magazine about the new depositor, which will be able to produce a wider variety of Peeps in all sizes. “The [old] Peeps line did one thing and one thing very well—cranking out chicks day in and day out. Five clusters, just in different colors,” Born said.
7. PEEPS USED TO HAVE WINGS.
They were clipped in 1955, two years after the first marshmallow chicks hatched, to give the candy a sleeker, more “modern” look.
8. THE EYES ARE THE FINAL TOUCH.
The final flourish for all of these squishy balls of sweetness is adding the eyes, which are made of carnauba—a non-toxic edible wax (that is also found in some shoe polishes and car waxes, plus many other candies).
9. PEEPS MAY BE DESTRUCTIBLE, BUT THEIR EYES ARE NOT.
In 1999, a pair of scientists at Emory University—dubbed “Peeps Investigators”—decided to test the theory that Peeps are an indestructible food. In addition to a microwave, the pair tested the candy’s vulnerability to tap water, boiling water, acetone, and sulfuric acid (they survived them all). When they upped the ante with some Phenol, the only things that didn’t disappear were the eyes.
10. THEY REALLY ARE EVERYONE’S FAVORITE NON-CHOCOLATE EASTER CANDY.
For more than 20 years now, no other non-chocolate Easter candy has been able to compete with the power of Peeps. With more than 1.5 billion of them consumed each spring, Peeps have topped the list of most popular Easter treats for more than two decades.
11. THERE ARE SUGAR-FREE PEEPS.
Counterintuitive, we know. But in 2007, the first line of sugar-free Peeps hit store shelves.
12. THERE ARE ALSO CHOCOLATE-COVERED PEEPS.
Chocolate-covered Peeps hit the market in 2010. Today there’s a full line of them for every occasion.
13. PEEPS COME IN A VARIETY OF FLAVORS.
Color and shape (i.e. yellow chick) are no longer the only ways to categorize a Peep. They now come in an array of flavors, including fruit punch, sour watermelon, lemon sherbet, blueberry, and pancakes and syrup,
14. PEEPS LIP BALM IS A THING.
15. ON NEW YEAR’S EVE, BETHLEHEM DROPS A GIANT PEEP.
The drop is done with a traditional chick that flashes different colors at midnight.
16. BELIEVE IT OR NOT, PEEPS ARE NOT JUST BORN’S BEST-SELLING BRAND.
That honor belongs to Mike and Ike. (Sorry, Peepsters.)
17. THEY’RE A BOON TO CREATIVITY.
All over the country, Peeps have become the preferred media for a number of highly anticipated annual art contests.
18. 37,000 PEEPS WEIGH ABOUT AS MUCH AS ONE BOY BAND.
At least if that boy band was One Direction—prior to Zayn Malik’s departure. The scientists at Just Born estimated that it would take more than 37,000 pieces of marshmallow deliciousness to equal the combined weight of the band. Following Zayn Malik’s departure in 2015, the Peeps team adjusted that number to 29,882.
19. THERE WERE APPROXIMATELY 2 BILLION PEEPS PRODUCED IN 2016.
That’s a lot of Peeps!