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Peeps: Everything You Need to Know (Recipes Included)

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Photo by Kate Ter Haar via Flickr

Good Food did a segment dedicated to Peeps back in 2007 (above) with candy blogger Cybele May. Listen for peep haikus, peep pop culture and more. 

Peeps are one of those mysterious seasonal treats that invade grocery store shelves each year around Easter with no explanation. The sugary marshmallow candies have not only been a fixture of Easter baskets for years, but they are also extremely polarizing. Matthew Beals, director of the 2009 documentary “The Power of the Peepexplains that this is because “they coexist as both cute and horrible.”

Peep haikus, peep fashion, the obsession with watching peeps perish in the microwave (and joust!) and even a riff on Lord of the Rings called Lord of the Peeps are all evidence that peeps have captured our hearts and our scorn.

But besides pastel food-coloring, what exactly do these colorful chicks have to do with Easter?

The History of Peeps

It turns out they don’t really have anything to do with Easter after all.

It all began in 1953 when a candy company Just Born acquired another candy company called Rodda that was making Peeps’ homemade predecessors. Back in 1953 it took as long as 27 hours to make homemade peeps, but just one year later, Just Born mechanized peep production that eventually resulted in the armies of peeps that are found on store shelves across the U.S.

It’s unclear how exactly Peeps became associated with Easter. Slate’s Rachel Deahl writes, “Candy historians speculate that the Peeps’ link to Easter has more to do with the pagan origins of the holiday than its Christian roots. Eggs, and consequently chicks, are a long-standing symbol of fertility and rebirth, an appropriate image for a holiday that celebrates the coming of spring.”

Read more on the history of Peeps from Slate’s Rachel Deahl.

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Peep Sushi. Photo by David Goehring via Flickr

Stale vs. Fresh Debate

There’s a bit of a debate among peep aficionados about whether stale peeps or fresh peeps taste better, and it all comes down to texture. Stale peep-lovers contend that leaving them out about a week adds an extra je ne sais quoi.

And devotees of fresh peeps (including Evan Kleiman) love nothing more than that fluffy, airy texture of a freshly unpackaged peep.

Recipes: 

How to Make Homemade Marshmallow Peeps

Peepshi, aka Peep Sushi

Peep S’mores 

Local Peeps

Check out this awesome photo series by Victoria Bernal of peep adventures in Los Angeles.