PEEPS are Popping Out All Over
Happy Easter! This month we are highlighting one of my very favorite Easter candies – PEEPS. These marshmallow chicks and bunnies have been staples in almost every Easter basket I have ever had in my 60 years of life. In fact, I can’t remember an Easter without a Peep involved in one way or another. I very clearly remember the “put the Peep in the microwave” trick that was popular with the invention of said kitchen appliance. Not sure who the genius was that decided it was a good idea to put one of those squishy delights in a microwave, but I’m glad they did. My mother, on the other hand, didn’t see the humor in it!
*A bit of history
Few products have achieved the iconic status of PEEPS®, the yellow, chick-shaped marshmallow confection beloved by children and adults alike. But, as popular as PEEPS® has become, it is only one of the many delicious products produced by Just Born, an 87-year-old, family-owned confectionery company based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
The Just Born candy tradition actually began in 1910 when Sam Born emigrated to the U.S. from Russia. A candy maker by trade, Born used innovative technology to produce chocolate sprinkles, known as Jimmies, and the hard chocolate coating for ice cream bars. In 1916, Born invented a machine that mechanically inserted sticks into lollipops.
In 1923, Born opened a small candy-making and retail store in Brooklyn, New York. He marketed the freshness of his line of daily-made candy with a sign that declared, “Just Born.” Not long after opening the Brooklyn store, Born invited his brothers-in-law, Irv and Jack Shaffer, to join him in the business.
The company thrived in spite of the economic depression of the 1930s and, in 1932, moved its operations to an empty printing factory in Bethlehem, PA.
The company continued to grow, aided by several key acquisitions. In 1935, Just Born acquired the prestigious Maillard Corporation, well known for elegant hand-decorated chocolates, crystallized fruits, Venetian mints, jellies and “the best bridge mix in the country.”
In 1953, Just Born acquired the Rodda Candy Company of Lancaster, PA. Although Rodda was best known for its jelly beans, it also made a small line of marshmallow products that included a popular Easter Peep that was made by laboriously hand-squeezing marshmallow through pastry tubes.
Sam Born’s son, Bob, who had joined the company in 1946, helped mechanize the marshmallow forming process and Just Born has become the world’s largest manufacturer of novelty marshmallow treats.
Other popular products have been introduced over the years; including MIKE AND IKE® chewy fruit flavored candies in 1940, spicy, cinnamon-flavored HOT TAMALES® in 1950, TEENEE BEANEE® gourmet jelly beans in 1977, and sour ZOURS® in 1999.
Under the current leadership of Co-CEO’s Ross Born and David Shaffer, Just Born acquired Goldenberg Candy Company, makers of PEANUT CHEWS® and CHEW-ETS®, in 2003. Today, Just Born products are exported to many world markets and the candy is available to more than 1.5 billion people worldwide.
In 2009, Just Born opened its first retail store here in National Harbor. We were fortunate enough to be included in the grand opening ceremonies and it was a lot of fun. You can’t miss the store since the PEEPmobile is usually parked right out front. It is the anchor retail store on the waterfront right at the bottom of the stairs leading to the water. The store is located at the very center of National Harbor’s main plaza at a converging point for residents and visitors arriving by bus, car, and the water taxi, which docks at the pier near the front of the store.
I had the pleasure of touring the PEEPS & COMPANY® factory in Bethlehem as part of a tourism meeting a couple of years ago. It really is quite the operation. It is amazing how they generate all of the fun “stuff” and worth the tour if you are in the area. The local store prides itself in being “a fun, energy filled retail experience appealing to all five senses. Shoppers of all ages will be entertained by captivating music, lights, interactive displays, and videos featuring historic and present day elements of all their favorite Just Born brands.”
In addition to great tasting candy, my favorites are Mike & Ike, PEEPS & COMPANY® offers an array of high-quality branded items such as apparel, accessories and gifts. Do yourself a favor and visit the store here in the Harbor and stock up on everything you need for those Easter baskets you are putting together!
Written by: Lani Gering
*This information is taken from the Just Born website – for more information about all of the products and online ordering log on to justborn.com.