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Don’t You Dare Make a Peep

by Kim Power Stilson, host of “The Kim Power Stilson Show” on BYU Radio

“Don’t you dare make a peep!” is a phrase many of us have heard.  A “peep,” presumably, is the cute sound of a baby chick. Yet every spring a billion Peeps arrive in marshmallow form to brighten our holiday and boost our sugar levels. I had never heard of Peeps until a few years ago when my mother-in-law introduced them as dessert and her favorite candy at a family dinner. Since then, I realized that Peeps, even for their “dare not” title, are not at all that quiet.  

According to the official Peeps site, over 700 billion zero fat gram marshmallow Peeps had been sold at the time of their 50th anniversary. Over 42 million peeps – in pink, white, and yellow, lavender, blue and in bunny form, too – are made each day and sit quietly in their brightly colored containers waiting to be shipped to stores. It’s once the Peeps get into the hands of the people that they become noisy.

I am not sure Bob Born and his candy company realized his Marshmallow Peeps would create such a commotion. The story behind Peeps starts quietly enough and is very typical of the stories we like to cover on the Kim Power Stilson talk radio show. Each day we interview cool humans who have found a solution that they have shared with the world. The story behind Marshmallow Peeps is no exception. In 1953, a handmade candy marshmallow chick captured the heart of Bob Born of the Just Born candy company. He liked it so well that by a year later, he had created a machine that would mass-produce marshmallow chicks. Appropriately, he named his new marshmallow solution, Peeps. In the 1990’s Born added colors and other holiday forms and is now the largest Marshmallow Candy manufacturer in the world. And that’s where the noise begins.

Since being introduced to Peeps, I have heard of all sorts of uses that go way beyond normal consumption. Peeps are eaten microwaved, baked, frozen, and on pizza. Peeps are rumored to have a shelf life beyond the million years of the Twinkie, and, are even used as business card holders, bottle stoppers, and pin cushions. It is actually a thing to “Peep” something by licking the back of the Peep and sticking it. To have your car or locker or office “Peeped” is a popular but messy business. Peep wars are common. I’ve even seen Peep Jewelry that I was tempted to buy. A cute baby chick may have started this marshmallow mess, but billions seem to love their Peep traditions. 

Now when I hear someone say, “Don’t you dare make a peep!” I laugh and wonder where we’d be now if someone had said that to Bob Born. 

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