Peeps are popular marshmallow candies from America and Canada that come in different shapes such as bunnies, chicks, ducks and various other animals. A delight for kids, these candies are an integral part of the Easter baskets; however, they are also available at other times of the year. In fact, they are available during Christmas, Halloween and Valentine’s Day, as special treats. They are produced in a number of colors and shapes to suit the liking of kids. These candies are eaten as they are and also used in various other preparations.
The origin of peeps dates back to the early 1950s, when Sam Born (Russian immigrant), the owner of Just Born, started a candy manufacturing business based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. When the Rodda Candy Company was acquired by Just Born along with the marshmallow chick line of the company, Sam Born decided to mass produce marshmallow candies. Though yellow marshmallow candies were the only colored candies produced by the Rodda Candy Company, Just Born introduced new colors and a range of shapes, which are very popular all over United States. The company expanded in the recent years and has come out with a large variety of flavors that include vanilla, strawberry, grape, cotton candy, etc. The first Peeps store was opened in Prince George’s County, in the year 2009.
Peeps were popularized by the German immigrants based in Pennsylvania, as part of the tradition of Easter Bunny in America. Today, about 1 billion marshmallow candies are produced every year in America alone.
In the early days, till almost mid-18th century, marshmallow candy or peeps was made with the sap of marsh-mallow plant. These days, gelatin along with corn syrup, gum arabic and flavoring are used for making these candies.
The process of making marshmallow has undergone many changes over time. After many experiments by Alex Doumak, he finally came up with a fast track method of extrusion, which resulted in fast and large production of the candies. These days, long tubes are used for piping out the fluffy marshmallows, which are cut into equal sized pieces. This equipment was bought over by Just Born and revolutionized further to mass produce many shapes and colors of the candy.
Though initially white, pink and yellow colored peeps were produced, soon other colors and flavors followed thereafter.
Ingredients Used and Method of Preparation
Peeps can be easily made at home. The key ingredients used in the preparation of these peeps are marshmallows, corn syrup, carnauba wax and gelatin. A little salt, melted chocolate and colored sugar for decorating are also required for making these candies.
A little vegetable oil is needed for lining the baking dish, which is then dusted with powdered sugar. Meanwhile, gelatin is prepared by mixing dissolved gelatin with sugar syrup (made by simmering corn syrup, sugar, salt and water).The syrup is added to the gelatin gradually and simultaneously the contents are whipped till the mixture is lukewarm and reaches the marshmallow cream consistency. It is flavored with vanilla and then poured into the pre-prepared baking dish. Colored sugar is sprinkled on top and then baked till the marshmallow mixture cooks and forms a sheet, which is cooled and cut into the required shape with a cookie cutter. They are tossed in sugar and served with toothpicks inserted.
Note: the candies should be stored in airtight containers.
Uses of Marshmallow Candy
- Peeps are eaten as they are; however, they are used in various other preparations such as marshmallow fudge, cakes, in sandwiches, etc.
- They are also used in making spiked hot chocolate and marshmallow s’mores.
- Another popular way of consuming the candies is by stir frying them.
Popular Peeps Recipes
- Peepshi Roll – This treat gets its name from the fact that it looks like sushi roll. It is made by wrapping strips of rice krispies treats around peeps that have been trimmed off their neck and stuffed with a length of Fruit by the Foot. This marshmallow treat is served with a toothpick holding the strip around the marshmallow.
- Peeps Sunflower Cake – A regular sponge cake is decorated with chocolate icing and yellow colored peeps that look like a sunflower.
- The first “Peep Off ‘competition, an annual event held on the first Saturday after every Easter in Maryland was held the year 1994. This competition is all about how many candies can be consumed by an individual within 30 minutes. The candies are sold at a discounted price during this event.
- There are a number of Peeps world records recorded in the Universal Record Database.
- An International Peeps Competition is organized by the Racine Art Museum every year, during April 1st to 28th, which has the theme of “peep-powered work of art”.
- Peeps are referred to as “indestructible”, because of their non-dissolving properties, because they dissolve neither in water nor acetone nor acids.