Easter Peeps

Marshmallow Peeps come in multiples, even when homemade (by Nina Callaway). They often are consumed in multiples as well.

Whether or not you celebrate Easter, you’ve probably noticed it’s become an excuse for commercial displays of loads of pastel colors and an overflow of chocolate and other sugary treats. And who’s to say those aren’t welcome an a rainy Spring Sunday – or any day, really.

Whatever your plans come April 8 this year, you might be inspired to DIY something you’ve never done before. Instead of purchasing the packaged sugar highs lining the shelves of drug stores and other mass market retailers, how about making your own Marshmallow Peeps? Haven’t you always wanted to? After all, that’s what Martha Stewart would do.

In fact, she (i.e. her staff?) did just that back in 2001 in her namesake magazine. Apartment Therapy’s food blog, the Kitchn, adapted Martha’s recipe to the real world in 2008. So now it’s your turn – or not!

I’m one to talk: I’ve not tried either version. I just think it’s fascinating to contemplate the food items that become so closely associated with our seasonal holidays, all across the country.

It turns out the popularity of Peeps has a lot to do with Russian native Sam Born, who moved to France and learned chocolate making, then moved to New York and in 1953 bought a Pennsylvania candy company called Rodda that happened to make chick-shaped marshmallow treats. Through efficiency and mechanization (and help from his son Bob), he expanded the business, and lo and behold became the King of Peeps. (I didn’t mean that to sound sleazy, honest I didn’t.)

That basic history of Peeps comes from the highly reputable Smithsonian Museum Libraries, but digging deeper into the Internet – that is, going to the JustBorn candy company’s Peeps webpage – I discover how much the wide world of Peeps has changed from what I remember from my childhood. Now there are PEEPS® Chocolate Dipped Mousse Flavored Marshmallow Chicks. I’m not sure I can handle this.

Will Peeps pervade the next generations? If the JustBorn marketers have anything to do with it, the answer is yes. Just look at their cartoon-style “slide show” presentation – it’s tongue in cheek (er, chick?), designed for children, but rather sophisticated in a slightly frightening way. I highly recommend taking a look at it, if only to be warned – and for the realistic old school slide projector sound effects.

Also strangely compelling is the company’s online factory tour. Taking the tour, you’ll learn important facts like, “The marshmallow mixture starts in big kettles where all of the ingredients are mixed together. This mixture is called slurry. The slurry then goes through a whipper to give the marshmallow its fluffy texture.” Who knew that a “whipper” was so closely aligned with such a sacred holiday? Or slurry, for that matter?

If you want to make Marshmallow Peeps but not go through quite so many complicated steps as Martha did, you can make them flat rather than sculptured little chicks: check out the realistic recipe on the 52 kitchen adventures blog.

Much as I love chocolate and sugar, I’m much more likely to whip up a really simple and delicious asparagus omelette on April 8th. Or make an angel food cake and decorate it with white icing and purple vinca blossoms from the garden (just don’t eat the flowers, OK?).

Whatever you do, happy springtime!