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Jackie Hope: Ready for the Peeps show?

Know what’s the best thing about Easter? OK, the second best thing, next to the Resurrection.


Those squeezy, sweet and sugar-coated Easter treats made of fluffy, stuffy, marshmallow puffy goodness are a surer sign of spring than any amount of tulips or robins or cross-country runners hot-footing it along State Avenue.

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Who doesn’t love Peeps? Those guys have been peeping up — oops, popping up — in Easter baskets for as long as most of us can remember. Does anyone remember the Pre-Peepian Era? Which came first, the Peeps or the Easter egg?

The baby chick Peeps are like conjoined sardines in their little cardboard trays. And they even have eyes, sorta. Actually, the eye-dotting machines in the Peeps factories are pretty hit-or-miss. Some Peeps have eyes on their backs, or have both eyes on one side, like a halibut that has been bottom feeding for too long. Yes, halibuts are hatched with both eyes in the normal eye places, but one eye migrates across the halibut as it matures, so that an adult halibut has both eyes on the same side — like dual headlights on a Beemer. For true. The Alaska Fish and Game people say so at their website, and Wikipedia confirms it. That makes it a fact, Jack. But you gotta wonder if halibuts ever get to see what they are eating. Maybe that is why they don’t mind eating bottom-of-the-sea garbage.

But back to Peeps. Peeps began peeping out of local grocery shelves the day after Valentine’s Day. Or on Jan. 2 at the big box store, where they always like to get a jump on the upcoming holidays. Oh, and BTW, did you see the new 2014 commemorative Christmas ornaments on display in their garden shop? They’re right next to the Halloween costumes. And the Thanksgiving turkeys.

Peeps are a product of the Just Born candy company, whose catchphrase is, “A great candy isn’t made … it’s Just Born.” The Just Born candy business was born in Bethlehem — Bethlehem, Pa. — in 1910.

The company’s founder, Sam Born, started by making ice cream sprinkles, then he invented a machine that stuffed the sticks into lollipops. Uh, OK. ‘Nuf said.

In 1953, the company acquired another candy business, the Rodda Candy Company, which was a niche marketer of Easter marshmallow confections, including their hand-crafted Peeps. So a guy who could figure out a machine that stuffed sticks into lollys was a shoe-in to invent a mechanized Peeps processor. And the rest was, so to speak, a piece of cake.

Just Born is now the world’s largest marketer of marshmallow goodness, with 1.5 billion worldwide candy customers. Man, that is a lot of Peeps per capita.

At the Peeps & Co. website, they offer 13 different colors of Peeps, as well as Peeps plush, Peeps mugs and Peeps Nerf-ish toys. Oh man, can’t you just imagine a Peeps treat, the size of a Nerf football? I’d sack that one so fast! Their website also pictures Peeps tees with the slogan “Peeps on Earth.” Really. You can’t make up stuff like that.

Peeps & Co. has three brick-and-mortar stores, and one of those Peep-poriums is at the Mall of America. But they have an As Seen On TV store and a Benihana there, too, so maybe a Peeps store is not all that exotic. There is probably even an aquarium full of halibuts at the Mall of America. Maybe the halibuts scrounge the bottom of the tank for discarded Peeps. Just sayin’.

Don’t know about your household, but around here, the one day we eat candy for breakfast is on Easter. OK, some of us eat candy for breakfast on other holidays, too. Like Christmas. Or Mondays. And don’t tell anyone, but someone has been eating all the Peeps out of our Easter bunny’s secret stash, and then going out to the supermarket late at night to replenish the Peeps supply. Not naming names or playing true confession or anything. But take it from me, the blue ones are the best.

Easter is almost here. The stores are full of Sour Watermelon Peeps and Blue Raspberry Peeps and Rainbow Pops Peeps on a stick. Peepi-Pops!

Well, that figures, considering the company’s history with lollipops. If you plan on buying any blue Peeps, however, you’d better get moving. Because tonight, around midnight, the Peeper shopper will probably strike.