A History of Peeps: Easter’s Perfectly-Puffed Candy

in Candy Blog

What is a Peep and why do people love them so much?

That’s the question that’s floating around our candy headquarters every Easter season as we stuff packages full of neon-colored birds and bunnies.

While we know that people absolutely adore the tiny delights, we were curious about where they came from in the first place. When you think about candy, the first idea usually isn’t a sugar-coated marshmallow that looks like a bird.

So we did some research and found out that Peeps have a delightful story that dates back almost 100 years. And over the course of that time, they’ve created what has become one of the most iconic seasonal candies we’ve ever tasted.

Before we tell you everything about Peeps, let’s go back to the beginning…

Sam Born - owner of Just Born Candy Company

The birth of Just Born Candy Company…

Before there were Peeps, there was Just Born Candy Company. Founded by Sam Born in 1910, the company was known for producing some of the freshest and most innovative candy products of the early 1900s, hence the name Just Born.

Sam Born was a candy guy through and through—one could say the man ate, slept, and breathed confections. So much so that he’s credited with a few candy innovations that are still incredibly relevant almost 100 years later.

For example, Sam was the first person to develop chocolate sprinkles. He also invented the chocolate coating that instantly hardens over ice cream. Did we forget to mention that he also created a machine that put sticks inside lollipops, and as a reward, the mayor of San Francisco gave him a special key to the city?

Talk about a candy connoisseur, right?

After suffering through the Great Depression in New York City, Sam moved his business to the plains of Pennsylvania, opting for a larger space (a retired printing facility) in Bethlehem. Here, he would start stacking his candy empire to the sky through new candy concepts that rocked the world, along with business buyouts that bolstered the growth of the Just Born brand.

Sam invented a few different candies that would change the industry forever, starting with Mike and Ikes, then Hot Tamales. From there, they began to focus on another product that had budding possibilities.


Multi Colored Peeps

What is a Peep anyway?

Though most people probably think that Peeps have always been made by the Just Born Candy Company, the reality is that until 1953, they were actually made by another candy company known as Radda from Lancaster, PA.

Known for their technological development of the jelly bean, Radda flexed a small side product that consisted of a 3D, marshmallow chick that flaunted a white coating and beady black eyes. When Born Candy bought the brand in ‘53, their attention was focused on this side product.

It looked something like this...

Original Radda Peeps in black and white

This product particularly interested Sam’s son Bob, who was drawn to the product for its 27-hour hand-done production process.

Yeah, you read that correctly, 27 hours.

An innovator like his father, Bob wanted to find a way to make double the amount of these puffy Peeps while also cutting production time in half. After some well-thought-out engineering and a few test runs, they developed a flawless system that pumped our fresh Peeps every 6 minutes.

From there, the Peep craze was in full effect. Just Born started producing thousands of units per day and before they knew it, Peeps had become one of the most popular Easter candies in the entire world.

Fast forward to 2003, and Peeps celebrated its 50th anniversary with a massive campaign that included new one-of-a-kind products including a limited edition Peep package that was glittering gold. By then, Peeps had become so ingrained into the candy world that there was no convenience store you could go to without finding the glow of pink and yellow permeating from the shelves.

Today, Peeps continues to push out new products like their Halloween Edition and even started a full-fledged merchandise store where you can show your true love for the culture with special hats and t-shirts that even describe the anatomy of a Peep.

With all that said, there are probably a few things you didn’t know about the neon, sugar-coated candy that drives little children up the wall. 

Matt Stonie Peep World Record Holder

5 things every candy lover needs to know about Peeps…

1. Approximately 700 million units of Peeps are sold every year.

We were not expecting that. Sure, you see your fair share of Peeps packed into most Easter baskets, but we never would have guessed that they’re churning out more than half a billion peeps every single year!

This begs a bigger question, who is buying up all these precious Peeps?

2. The Guinness World Record for most Peeps eaten in 5 minutes is 200.

If you frequent here often you’ll remember this one from our recent chat about 20 candy world records that will shock your sweet tooth.

Nonetheless, this is quite a feat for any human being, considering most of us probably struggle to fit an entire s’mores in our mouth. For this accomplishment, we applaud this candy lover who took it upon himself to really satisfy his sweet tooth with 200 Peeps—well done, sir!

3. In 1999, Emory University did scientific tests that unlocked the mystery of Peeps.

Most of us wouldn't consider testing our candy before we ate it, but Emory University thought otherwise. They tested Peeps against regular water, boiling water, acetone, sulfuric acid, and sodium hydroxide, and nothing happened. The Peeps maintained every bit of their integrity.

It wasn’t until it was placed inside a chemical called Phenol–a lethal substance to humans—that it disintegrated the sugar, leaving only 2 small beady black eyes behind. Yikes!

4. Peeps double their size when put in the microwave.

If the basic Peep was too boring for you, consider throwing it into the microwave for 15-20 seconds and watch it expand across the plate. Seriously, you can double the tiny little bird into a ballooning ball of sugar that has the texture of pixie dust.

Check out Nick Jonas being the coolest candy uncle ever when he shows his nieces this trick. 

5. In 1950, the Peep's wings were clipped to give them a sleek and modern look

Just when you thought that candy makers didn’t care about looking modern, Just Born took it there and clipped the wings of their Peeps to make them look sleeker. The move also made it easier for the molds to cut out each Peep, while still allowing them to link together.

So it looks like in this situation they did in fact, kill two birds with one stone.

Puffed perfection is waiting inside every Peep.

With Easter coming we’re guessing you might get your hands on a few Peeps. If you’re lucky enough to do so, savor the moment and really enjoy that nostalgic taste, as it’s one that truly stands alone.

And if you’re someone who’s still looking for some Peeps to add to their Easter basket, go ahead and grab yourself some put tapping right here.

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