Forget groundhog shadows or tulips. The first real sign of spring are bright yellow Peeps stocking the shelves at your local grocery store. Marshmallow Peeps are everyone’s favorite non-chocolate Easter candy — they even outsell jelly beans! Americans will eat 1.5 billion Marshmallow Peeps and Bunnies this spring, but what do you really know about these sugar crystal coated, brightly-colored bird-shaped mallows?
Discover 14 fun facts about Peeps:
1. Making Peeps used to be a really long process. It used to take 27 hours to make a Peep. The first Peeps were squeezed one at a time from a pastry tube before receiving hand painted eyes. Today, with an automated manufacturing process, a Peep takes just six minutes to make.
2. About 5.5 million Peeps are born every single day. Machines crank out 3,500 Peeps per minute — that’s nearly 2 billion Peeps per year!
3. Peeps were originally produced by the Rodda Candy Company, which was acquired by Just Born in 1953. The manufacturing process has become somewhat more streamlined, but the shape and the recipe has changed little over the years.
4. The recipe involves boiling a trio of sugars — granulated sugar, liquid sugar, and corn syrup — before adding vanilla extract and gelatin to transform the mix into a marshmallow.
5. Just Born got its name from founder Sam Born, who proudly displayed his newly-made candies in his store window, calling them “just born.”
6. Peeps are available in over 40 different flavors and varieties. Yellow and pink Peeps and bunnies of course, but they also come as Jack-o-lanterns in the fall, Christmas trees or Valentine’s Day hearts in the winter just to name a few. New flavors include cotton candy, lemon sherbet, and pancakes and syrup. Sugar-free Peeps hit the market in 2007, and chocolate-covered Peeps hatched in 2010.
7. Yellow Peeps are the original and still the favorite. Yellow bunnies are the second most popular color/shape combo. Pink is the second most popular colored candies.
8. Peeps used to have wings, but they were clipped in 1955 — just two years after initial production. The design change was to give the bird a more “modern” look.
9. Peeps’ hometown drops a huge 400 pound Peep on New Year’s Eve. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania needs no ball to drop at midnight. The town hosts a “Chick Drop” that flashes different colors to ring in the New Year. The big bird stands 4 feet 9 inches tall and descending promptly at 5:30 p.m. on December 31.
10. Peeps aren’t even Just Born’s top-selling candy. That honor belongs to Mike and Ike.
11. Moon marshmallows. It would take 172 million marshmallow bunnies placed end-to-end to circle the moon.
12. Cross country chicks. It would take 70 million Peeps laid end-to-end to stretch from New York City to Los Angeles.
13. Each Peep has just 32 calories, and a full five-chick serving will set you back 160 calories and 0 grams of fat.
14. Peeps are pretty polarizing among candy connoisseurs. Purists enjoy them fresh from the pack, while others swear by letting them go stale. Others still, microwave them, making them blow up in size, if only temporarily. Peeps’ most creative fans have even incorporated them into cocktails, elaborate desserts, and even used them as a pizza topping on what was dubbed the “Peep-za.”