The fluffy, sugary marshmallow Easter treat traditionally shaped like a chick is still on shelves, according to Pennsylvania-based manufacturer Just Born Quality Confections. In all the usual varieties, flavors and colors.
“Peeps and Easter are almost synonymous,” David Yale, president of Just Born told Fox News’ Katie Byrne. “It’s certainly an American cultural icon associated with Easter, although we do have offerings at the other holidays.”
Originally, Peeps were made by the Rodda Candy Company, according to the candy's website.
Just Born acquired the business in 1953, when Peeps were still hand-formed using a pastry tube. Making a single marshmallow chick took 27 hours, the website said.
By 1954, Just Born mechanized the procedure and now, making a chick requires just six minutes.
Matt Pye, Just Born’s senior vice president of sales and marketing told FOX Business that the company produces 5.5 million Peeps every day, totaling 2 billion Peeps a year, “most of which is consumed at Easter.”
“Easter makes up about 75 percent of annual sales for Peeps,” Pye said.
As a private company, Just Born doesn’t publish sales numbers. However, WalletHub estimated last year that more than 1.5 billion Peeps are eaten every Easter.
Though the coronavirus has interrupted many of the usual Easter festivities this year, Just Born was able to ship its Peeps to suppliers before there were any issues, Yale told Fox News.
The company ended up stopping production for two weeks “for safety reasons,” even though it is considered an essential business.
“Everything is shut down, except we do have essential maintenance and sanitation personnel in the plant doing the cleaning,” Yale said.
While the coronavirus may curb sales by keeping some people away from stores, that's not the only challenge this season, Pye told FOX Business.
“Keep in mind Easter is earlier this year, which means there's nine less days between Valentine's Day and Easter,” Pye said. “On top of that, consumers are making less trips to the grocery store. Most Easter sales occur the last two weeks before the holiday, so we are hopeful consumers will continue to shop for Peeps in the last couple of days before Easter.”
Peeps may have an edge there, since it has been "the No. 1 non-chocolate Easter candy for the last 25 years.”
Even though they’re best known for Easter, Peeps go beyond the spring holiday and the traditional chick shape.
According to Vox, Just Born started making bunny-shaped marshmallow Peeps in the 1980s and today, there are even more varieties including Christmas trees, hearts, pumpkins and Minions.
On the Peeps digital store, the treats come in different colors -- pink, yellow, lavender, green and blue -- and flavors including pancakes and syrup, root beer float, cotton candy and sour watermelon. Overall, there are more than 40 Peeps flavors and varieties, according to the website.
Along with Peeps, Just Born also makes Hot Tamales and Mike and Ike fruit-flavored candies.