So, I’m chilling at my computer one night, catching up on emails and absent-mindedly munching on a leftover package of green Christmas tree Peeps. Before I know it, I’ve eaten the entire package of 9 Peeps.
When I couldn’t asleep that night, I was stymied. The only thing that usually prevents me from falling asleep when my head hits the pillow is the caffeine in chocolate, which I had not eaten that day. As I lay in my bed, wide awake, it finally dawned on me that I might have eaten too many Peep “sugar bombs.” At 34 grams of sugar per serving, I was wired!
I’ve learned my lesson about all things in moderation, but it hasn’t lessened my love of the iconic marshmallow candy called Peeps. I was a fan of Peeps way before they became a cultural phenomenon. Maybe it’s because Peeps are made by the company, Just Born, which is located in Bethlehem, PA, not too far from my hometown.
Peeps are all the rage now. The yellow Easter chick is the original and most popular Peep. In recent years, Peeps have expanded to other holidays, shapes, and flavors, such as Halloween chocolate mousse cats, white Christmas “joy” Peeps, red Valentine heart Peeps, and blue star Peeps for the Fourth of July. The newest Peep color is orange (I’m eager to try it), and the newest Peep product is milk and dark chocolate covered Peeps.
I’ve hidden my passion for Peeps from all but my closest friends for fear of being labeled the “Peep Pastor.” However, when I heard 2 of my clergy colleagues discuss the possibility of doing a post-Easter “Peep” sermon series, I decided it was time to go public.
- When Just Born acquired Rodda Candy Company in 1953, they automated the process of making marshmallow chicks, which were originally formed by hand.
- Next to chocolate, Peeps constitute the biggest niche in the Easter candy business.
- In the early 1950’s it took 27 hours to make one Peep. Today it takes 6 minutes.
- Each Peep has 28 calories and 0 grams of fat, never mind the sugar.
- The number of Peep chicks and bunnies eaten this Easter will more than circle the circumference of the earth.
- For those who want to sleep at night and still eat Peeps for dessert after dinner, there are sugar-free Peeps.
- There are dozens of unofficial Peep sites on the Internet.
Characteristics of Peeps
- Peeps last forever. They are good soft, semi-soft, and hard. You can even leave them in a package (open or closed) for days or months, and they’ll still taste good, especially if you like them chewy or crispy.
- Peeps are indestructible. 10 years ago a group of scientists at Emory University performed experiments on batches of Peeps to see if they could be easily dissolved, burned, or disintegrated. They discovered that the eyes of Peeps “wouldn’t dissolve in anything,” and the Peeps themselves are insoluble in acetone, water, sulfuric acid, and sodium hydroxide. No wonder I couldn’t sleep!
- They make for a fun but sticky game of Hide and Peep. A few years ago I hid 50 Peeps in the office of a friend for her 50th birthday. Even if she hasn’t discovered them all yet, I’m sure the Peeps will still be good to eat when found.
- Peeps evoke latent creativity. Put a Peep in a cup of hot cocoa, or use it as a cappuccino topping. Add it to a grilled cheese sandwich or pizza. Chop it up into a fruit parfait. Eat a Peeps chocolate-dipped pretzel.
The most fascinating use of Peeps comes from the Washington Post newspaper, which has sponsored a Peeps Diorama Contest during Lent for the past 4 years. The newspaper invites people to create a diorama of a famous occurrence or scene. The one rule is that the all the characters in the diorama must be Peeps.
The first year the Post expected a dozen submissions and received 350. Last year there were 1,100 submissions. I was especially fascinated by the 32nd place winner, “A Very Peeps Passover,” which was intended to demonstrate that Peeps are not just for Christians. Sorry, the deadline for submissions this year was March 1. Click here to see this year’s Washington Post Peeps contest winner.
What can we learn from the phenomenal success of Peeps? Why have Peeps captured our national imagination?
- Just Born focuses on what it does best – produce Peeps. They don’t have thousands of products. They make Peeps and Peep-related products. That’s it.
So, in our local churches, we need to keep the main thing the main thing. Don’t get distracted by programs and activities that take energy away from your vision and mission. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:23, “For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified… the power of God and the wisdom God.” That’s it.
- Just Born’s vision statement is: “Peeps: Always in Season.” The company realized that by limiting themselves to Easter, Peeps could not reach their full potential. As a result, Just Born is continually innovating by producing new colors, shapes, and sizes of Peeps for different holiday seasons.
Are you constantly looking for new ways to make disciples of Jesus Christ? The instructions from the Washington Post Peep contest say, “Melt, mold and manipulate those fluffy chicks and bunnies to bring your creative vision to life.” In the same way, our churches are called to create an environment where the Spirit of the living God can melt, mold, fill, and use us to transform our world and its people. Have you tried something new this Lent: creative worship, small groups, a Bible study, a mission trip, a servant evangelism project? How about a contest where church members create Bible stories from Peeps and ask congregation members to guess the Scripture passage?
- Just Born has capitalized on effective marketing. In 2003 Peeps celebrated its 50th anniversary with a Peeps float in the Macy’s parade and by creating new advertising for all 5 Peep seasons. In 2006 Just Born re-launched its Peeps web site. In 2010 Peeps formed a new partnership with Rita’s Ice, the nation’s largest Italian ice company. Peeps Ice will be introduced on March 20.
How are you visible in your community, communicating the good news of Jesus Christ in compelling ways? If your community never hears a peep from you, it’s time to change that. Have you taken the time to know your community’s needs, hopes, and dreams? Do you have a float in your local parade? Have you ever sponsored a billboard? Do you have radio spots or put an ad in the high school football program? Has your congregation started a Facebook Fan Club? (I’ve just signed up for the Peeps Fan Club.)
- The genius of Peeps is the product itself: simple, sweet, resilient, and indestructible.
Does your congregation stand on the solid rock of Jesus Christ, the grace of God, and the sweet, sweet Holy Spirit, which provide steadiness in all seasons and circumstances? If Peeps can circle the globe this Easter, so can the good news of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ!
When you are preparing Easter baskets for your children, grandchildren, or spouse, don’t forget the Peeps. They’re fun, tasty, and all the rage. If you have some Peeps laying around from last year, you can probably resurrect them as well. As for me, if I don’t answer my phone, you’ll know where I am – I’m chilling with my Peeps.
P.S. Got any Peep stories?