Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

Peeps, extruded marshmallow confections marketed to coincide with American holidays, have excited a cult following for reasons likely relating to their garish colors, sweet flavorlessness, and aggressively cute and childish shapes. See marshmallows.

Peeps are made by Just Born, a company founded in 1932 by a Russian immigrant named Sam Born, who had arrived as a candy maker in 1910 and opened a Brooklyn candy-making and retail store in 1923. In 1953 the company, by then based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, acquired the Rodda Candy Company, which made a line of hand-piped marshmallows in the shape of yellow chicks, marketed at Easter to fill baskets. Sam Born’s son, Bob, a physicist and engineer, encouraged the mechanization of the process, and eventually the product line expanded to different shapes for different holidays, including pumpkins at Halloween, reindeer and snowmen at Christmas, hearts at Valentine’s Day. Today the company claims to be “the world’s largest manufacturer of novelty marshmallow treats” and to produce enough Peeps in one year to circle the globe twice.