Peeps FAQ

Frequently (and not so frequently) Asked Questions

Compiled from various sources
Last updated June 21, 2003


You may either click on any of the links below to go directly to a particular question and answer, or scroll down past the index to browse the questions and answers.

The Questions:

What are Peeps ?
Who makes Peeps? Where are they made?
Are Peeps really 50 years old ?
Where can I buy ... ?
Do Peeps come in other shapes besides chicks ?
What other candies are related to Peeps?
Does the name "Peeps" mean only the original chicks, or does it refer to all the other similar candies as well ?
What is the significance of the company name "Just Born"?
What is the Born Sucker Machine?
Who originally developed and marketed Peeps?
What is the etymology of the word "peep" (peeps)?
What is the origin and history of marshmallow candy?
How is marshmallow correctly spelled and pronounced?
What's this about "Adult" Peeps ?
What colors do Peeps come in ?
Do different colors have different flavors ?
Are all colors usually available?
Why are Peeps all of a sudden so popular ?
What (when) exactly is "Peep Season"?
What's this about Peeps needing to "age" or "ripen" ?
How are Peeps made, are they set in molds?
Are there any recipes for Peeps?
How do you store Peeps so they will keep through the off-season?
What ingredients are in Peeps?
What are Peeps eyes made of?
Are Peeps low-cal?
Are Peeps low-fat?
Are Peeps Kosher for Passover?
How are Peeps packaged and sold?
What's this about giant Peeps?
What happens when you put a Peep in a microwave oven?
When were Peeps first advertised on TV ?
Are there any tie-in merchandize items ?
What about "Puffkins The Peep"?
What's this about a Peeps Fan Club ?
Does Just Born have a web page?
What's this about a fire in the Peeps factory?
Is there anything like a Guinness World Record for eating Peeps?
And what about you, the author, how old are you, and do you really eat Peeps?
What do I do if I think you're wrong about some of this?


The Answers:

What are Peeps ?

Peeps are cute little chicks that are very very sweet (kinda like me. :)

Seriously, Peeps are a marshmallow confection, intended as a kids' Easter candy. The manufacturer states that Peeps are the most popular non-chocolate Easter candy.


Who makes Peeps? Where are they made?

Genuine Peeps are made by Just Born Quality Confections, of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, US.


Are Peeps really 50 years old?

At least 50, possibly over 70. Just Born brand Peeps are indeed 50 years old as of Peep Season 2003.

However, what we now know as Peeps did exist before 1953. Just Born acquired Rodda Candy in 1953, and it appears that Rodda had marketed the chicks we know an love as Peeps before the acquisition. One source told me mid 1920's, but they may not have been known as Peeps back that far. I am trying to come up with a cite on this. (Notice the Rodda package contains 4 Peeps.)


Where can I buy ...?
(formerly: Is there anyplace you can buy Peeps off-season ?>

The most frequent question I get is asking "Where can I buy X ?" where X can be any of:

I have no connection to Just Born other than being a Peeps fan and an occasional consumer of Peeps and such. I really don't have any inside information on what is available where and for what price. I'll try to answer as best I can, however.

During Peep Season (roughly February 15 thru Easter) most of the Peeps line will be available in most supermarkets, drug stores, discount and department stores in the USA. Walgreens, CVS, Target, Krogers/Bakers/Smiths and K-Mart seem to consistently stock most everything in most colors in their larger stores.

As to Peeps in bulk, I suggest you check in your local phone book under the heading "Candy and confectionery, wholesale" and similar listings. Many wholesalers will indeed sell to non-dealers if you buy enough and you know exactly what it is you want.

The best source for Peeps at a discount is retail stores on the Monday after Easter. These often go for 1/2 price and sometimes sell out fast. If you want to buy in large quantities, see your local candy wholesalers.

For other Just Born products and other vintage candy, look in your local phone book under "Candy, retail" for shops in your area. If there's nothing, check on the web for dealers that ship.

Outside of North America, I'm afraid I can't help much. Contact your local candy distributors and ask if any merchants in your area stock Peeps.

As far as I know there's no place anywhere that regularly stocks Peeps except during Peep Season. (When I use the term Peeps here, I mean the original chicks, not Trees, Snowmen, etc.)

For a while I was listing places where readers had said Peeps were available off-season, but none of them turned out to be consistent sources that actually had them in stock year 'round.

Just Born regards Peeps and Bunnies as seasonal, a point made to me in a (snailmail) letter from their PR people. A scan of the letter is available by clicking on the thumbnail to the right.

As of 2003, three additional colors of Peeps (original chicks) have been added to the line for other holidays. Red/white/blue Peeps for July 4th. began to appear in the shops in May. (I've seen them personally at K-Mart.) Orange Peeps for Halloween should appear along with Spooky Cats and such in late summer, and red Peeps should start to appear before Thanksgiving, extending the availablity of Peeps (if you don't care about the color) almost year 'round.


Do Peeps come in other shapes besides chicks ?

The chicks were the originals. Bunnies came after. There are now several other holiday candies made with a similar recipe and process, such as Spooky Cats for Halloween, and Snowmen for the winter holidays.

Beginning in the 1999 Peep Season, Peeps Eggs are available. These are slightly larger than Peeps or Bunnies, and are white with multicolored specks.

As of Valentine's Day 2000, Just Born is making Peep-like pink marshmallow hearts.

In June 2002, Just Born introduced Peeps Stars, star-shaped white marshmallow candy with red and blue flecks.

For Halloween 2002, Just Born is introducing cocoa-flavored Bats. This appears to be their first chocolate-flavored candy in the Peeps line.


What other candies are related to Peeps?

This is a complete list of Just Born candies, supplied by the Customer Relations people at Just Born. It is current as of April 14, 2000.

Year-Round Candies

MIKE and IKE® (Chewy Fruit Flavored Candies)

HOT TAMALES® (Chewy Cinnamon Flavored Candies)

ZOURS® (Chewy Sour Fruit Flavored Candies) NEW!

TEENEE BEANEE® Gourmet Jelly Beans

Seasonal Candies

VALENTINE'S DAY

EASTER

HALLOWEEN

CHRISTMAS

Cutouts (cookie-like), stars, and Bats are now included in the Peeps line.


Does the name "Peeps" mean only the original chicks, or does it refer to all the other similar candies as well ?

A purist might say that "Peeps" should only refer to the chicks. (Chicks peep, bunnies don't, cats and snowmen certainly don't.) However, in the past few years, Just Born has started using the brand name "Peeps" to refer to the entire line of sugar-coated marshmallow holiday candies, such as Peeps brand Bunnies and Peeps brand Hearts.


What is the significance of the company name "Just Born"?

The company was named after its founder, Sam Born.


What is the Born Sucker Machine?

In 1916, the ingenious candy maker, Sam Born, was awarded the keys to San Francisco for inventing the Born Sucker Machine, which mechanically inserted sticks into lollipops. Born is also responsible for many other mechanical candy-making contraptions.


Who originally developed and marketed Peeps?

Peeps were originally developed and sold by Rodda Candy in the 1920's. Rodda was acquired by Just Born in 1953.


What is the etymology of the word "peep" (peeps)?

Webster's defines "peep" (noun) as:

Date: 15th century
1 : a feeble shrill sound : CHEEP
2 : a slight utterance especially of complaint or protest
3 : any of several small sandpipers

I've also heard "peep" used in the context of a newly-hatched chick, such as "... the mother hen and her peeps."

"Peep" is used to refer to several various shorebirds in the western United States.

In contemporary slang, "Peeps", (from people), is used to refer to friends, buddies, etc.


What is the origin and history of marshmallow candy?

Marshmallow candy dates back to ancient Egypt where it was a honey-based candy flavored and thickened with the sap of the root of the Marsh-Mallow plant (althea officinalis). Marsh-Mallow grows in salt marshes and on banks near large bodies of water. It is common in the eastern United States.

Until the mid 1800's, marshmallow candy was made using the sap of the Marsh-Mallow plant. Gelatin replaces the sap in the modern recipes.


How is marshmallow correctly spelled and pronounced?

According to Webster's , Marshmallow is the only acceptable spelling.

Marshmellow [sic] appears to be a frequent misspelling.

Webster's lists the ..mellow pronunciation as preferred, with the ..mallow pronunciation as acceptable.

One reader notes that it's like trying to convince some people there is no P in hamster. "You can rub it in their face and they still won't admit they're wrong."


What's this about, uh, "Adult" Peeps ?

It's my theory that lots of so-called kids' Easter candy, including Peeps, is actually eaten by adults.

Oh, that's not what you meant?

Well, then I'll tell ya. Although I have never actually seen any, I've been told that at least at one time, another company was producing peep-like candies in the shapes of, uh, let's just say some human body parts. :) These, of course, are not produced by Just Born, and cannot legally be sold in the US under the Peeps brand.


What colors do Peeps come in ?

Yellow was the original. Since Peep Season 1998, Peeps are available in yellow, white, pink, violet, and blue. Blue was added for the 1998 season. Violet first appeared in the 1997 season.

In early 2003, Just Born announced three new colors (patterns) of the original Peeps (chicks). These are white with red and blue specks (4th of July), orange (Halloween), and red (Christmas). I have yet to see any of these in stores.


Do the different colors have different flavors ?

Officially, no. There are some who claim they can detect the color of the Peep simply by taste. I tend to disagree, however, one year I seemed to detect a very subtle nuance in flavor of the blue Peeps.

Although you might expect Bunnies to have a somewhat gamey flavor, they taste identical to Peeps.

Peeps Eggs, however, have a very distinctive vanilla aroma and flavor.

Peeps Hearts have a pronounced artificial strawberry flavor.


Are all colors usually available?

In the recent seasons, the white Peeps appeared to be in short supply, with all others in adequate supply, from my own experience, and from reports on the net. This could vary from city to city, and from store to store. One store employee remarked that their buyers consider things such as demand and shelf space when deciding how much of the line to carry.


Why are Peeps all of a sudden so popular ?

Uh, they're yummy! That's reason enough! I suspect that in recent years, Peep fanciers have been more open, and have discovered each other, with the help of the Internet and other media. Peeps have become kind of a fad-food or cult-food in certain circles. A few Peep-a-holics have admitted to me that they were ashamed to admit to others that they enjoyed Peeps and consumed so many. Peepophiles have only recently begun to come out of the closet.


What (when) exactly is "Peep Season"? Is this when you can legally hunt Peeps or something?

Peep fanciers sometimes refer to the period in late winter and early spring, when Peeps are commonly available in stores, as Peep Season. Peep Season begins on February 15, the date most stores change their "Seasonal" aisles from Valentines to Easter, and ends a week or so after Easter, when the yearly supply is gone.


What's this about Peeps needing to "age" or "ripen" ?

Many Peepophiles prefer a certain degree of staleness to their Peeps, ranging from a slight stiffness, to downright hard and crunchy. This is somewhat of an acquired taste. This is normally accomplished either by letting them age naturally, or else leaving them exposed to air.


How are Peeps made, are they set in molds?

No, they are not molded. Peeps are kind of extruded through a special nozzle which moves back and forth, giving the Peeps their characteristic shape. Bunnies are extruded in slices. The sugar coating is then applied. At one time the eyes were hand-painted. Now they are applied by machine.

Before Just Born acquired Rodda, Peeps were made by hand, squeezed manually from tubes. Just Born automated the process.


Are there any recipes for Peeps?

Yes, both those that are serious and those in jest. Peep cupcakes and Choc-o-Peep milkshakes are serious. As for Peeps Flambe' ...


How do you store Peeps so they will keep through the off-season?

I've found that sealing unopened boxes of Peeps in ziplock bags and storing them at room temperature will keep them fresh, without getting too ripe, from one Peep season to the next. Some prefer to refrigerate or even freeze them.


What ingredients are in Peeps?

Mostly sugar, corn syrup, and gelatin, same as most other marshmallow candies. They do have trace amounts of flavoring, coloring, wax, unpronounceable preservatives and such.


What are Peeps eyes made of?

Carnauba wax. Some websites are erroneously reporting that they are made of tar. Eyes were once hand-painted. They are now applied by machine.


Are Peeps low-cal?

Well, uh, depends on how you define "low". About 32 calories per Peep. (And nobody can eat just one.)

However a reader has pointed out that an entire box of 5 Peeps (160 cal) has fewer calories than a handful of M&M's (250 cal) so the jury is out on this one.


Are Peeps low-fat?

Actually yes. Only trace amounts of any fats in Peeps.


Are Peeps Kosher for Passover?

Nope, see above ingredients.

However, the Teenie Beanie and Peeps Jelly Beans logos contain the (U) (Orthodox Union) Kosher designation. (A reader has noted that the market for Kosher Easter candy may be quite limited. :)


How are Peeps packaged and sold?

Peeps are most commonly sold in packages of either 5 or 15 Peeps. The 15-Peep packages have 3 trays of 5 Peeps each. Beginning in 1999, packages of 2 trays (10 Peeps) have been seen.

For Peep Season 2001, new color-coordinated packaging was introduced for Peeps and Bunnies.

Peeps Eggs are sold in packages of 9.


What's this about giant Peeps?

I have yet to see a real live giant Peep, but I've seen giant Bunnies, in packages of one.


What happens when you put a Peep in a microwave oven?

Somebody yells at you for making a mess out of the microwave.


When were Peeps first advertised on TV ?

Peep Season of 1999.


Are there any tie-in merchandize items ?

Yes. In 1999 Just Born released a limited number of stuffed plush Peeps. These were used in a premium promotion for a number of videos produced for children. Thanks to a friend who has connections at the factory, I was able to get one of these. Click HERE for my pictures of this. Click HERE for the Official Promotional Photo of the Plush Peep.

Update: As of January, 2000, Just Born was offering these while supplies last for a modest fee and two Peeps proofs of purchase. Several colors are now available.


There's this cute stuffed bird called "Puffkins The Peep", is it anything like the stuffed Peep above, or does it have anything to do with Peeps?

"Puffkins" is the name of a line of cute stuffed collectables, somewhat similar to Beanie Babies, manufactured by Swibco, Inc.. One of the Puffkins is indeed named "Puffkins the Peep", but is has no connection to Marshmallow Peeps other than a similar name. A photo of Puffkins the Peep appears HERE. I've been told that Puffkins the Peep is no longer manufactured, but is still sold and traded by collectors.


What's this about a Peeps Fan Club ?

Just Born is indeed sponsoring a Peeps Fan Club. (As of this time, I don't know if I will join or not.) There are two levels of membership, Basic for $9.95 per year, and Premium for $13.95 per year. Basic includes a T-shirt (at least they let you choose size, XL is like a circus tent on me :), a membership card, newsletter, etc. Premium includes a cap. Both memberships include a package of Peeps, size and color unspecified. Info about the Peeps Fan Club is HERE on their web page.


Does Just Born have a web page?

Yes, four, soon to be five, that we know of. They have the main page for Just Born at www.justborn.com. The official Peeps page is at www.marshmallowpeeps.com.

The Zours site is at www.zours.com and Hot Tamales is at www.hottamales.com.

A Mike & Ike web site will be coming soon.


What's this about a fire in the Peeps factory?

Yes, I'm afraid so, Janet, but it wasn't nice!

On the evening of November 30, 1999, an electrical panel in the boiler room of the Just Born factory in Bethlehem, PA overheated and caught fire. Part of their electrical system was damaged, there was significant water damage, and partially-complete batches of Peeps and Bunnies were damaged. The damaged candy was sold as an animal feed ingredient.

Production resumed in early December, 1999. No Peep or Bunny shortages occurred during the 2000 Peep Season.


Who is Janet ?

Oh, come on! I thought all you Peeps people (Peeps peeps?) would certainly get that. :)

Hint: The dialog goes something like this:

Janet: YOU!!??

Frank: Yes, I'm afraid so, Janet, but wasn't it nice?
...
Janet: Promise ya won't tell Brad?


Is there anything like a Guinness World Record for eating Peeps?

Guinness no longer sanctions any record of gluttony.

I doubt if Just Born would sanction such a thing either.

However, an annual event in Sacramento, the Peep Off has just such a contest. This year (2002), Jason (Peepicide) wins the prize, consuming 72 peeps in 1/2 hour.


And what about you, the author, how old are you, and do you really eat Peeps?

I lie about my age, but I'm sure I'm old enough to be your mother. {G} And yes I do occasionally indulge. (Yes, this has been asked several times. :)


What do I do if I think you're wrong about some of this, or if I've got a question to add to this list?

Well, the best thing to do is to write me e-mail at: annie@geekbabe.com