How America’s favorite Easter candy continues to grow after 65 years

Invented 65 years ago, Peeps, the colorful, marshmallow candy shaped like chicks and bunnies, have become a quintessential staple in American households on Easter, with more than 1.6 billion consumed on the holiday.

But Just Born, the Pennsylvania-based company that began producing the candy nearly 65 years ago, continues to look for opportunities to expand the brand, whether it’s into new treats – Peeps partnered with Nabisco to produce a limited-edition Peeps Oreo last year – or offering new shapes and flavors for other holidays, like red and white peeps for the Fourth of July, or pumpkin and ghost-shaped candies for Halloween.

“There’s a lot of legroom and headroom up there for growth,” David Yale, the chief operating officer, told FOX Business’ Dagen McDowell during an interview on Friday. “But also when you think about it, we have an iconic brand that people want to eat, they want to interact with. And certainly there’s a lot of different flavors of peeps that you’ve seen come out.”

Peeps first came to be when Just Born acquired the Rodda Candy Company in 1953, which produced a small line of marshmallow candies by hand-squeezing the marshmallow through pastry tubes.

Before developing machines to mass produce the peeps, it took about 27 hours to make one. Now it takes six minutes, and the company produces two billion per year, Yale said.

Since then, the candy has become near-ubiquitous in the U.S. People have filmed short videos of Peeps “jousting” while being microwaved, and created cocktail recipes inspired by the sugary treat. One brewer in Dallas created Peep This Collab, a sour ale brewed with Peeps, vanilla and butterfly pea flower to turn the drink purple, according to the Dallas Morning News.

“Let’s just face it,” Yale said. “Peeps are fun. When you think about where we are in the place we hold in the American mindset, it’s fun, it’s nostalgia, it’s family, it’s Easter. It all comes together as a rite of spring, and they taste delicious.”