How Marshmallow Peeps Are Born
Where the yellow and pink Easter treats come from.
Reprinted from the magazine "Creative Kids"
Have you ever wondered which came first, the marshmallow or the Peep? Well, we've got the answer. If you take a tour of the Just Born, Inc., candy plant in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, you'll know a lot more about those cute little chick and bunny peeps that show up in your Easter basket every year.
1. Mixing and Whipping
A mixture of marshmallow, sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, and a few other special ingredients are whipped into a marshmallowy goo that will become the shaped candy figures.
2. Coloring the Sugar
All sugar starts out white. If yellow Peeps are being made the day you visit, yellow food coloring is added through that little arm outside the barrel. The barrel rotates like a cement mixer to color all the sugar.
3. Spreading the Sugar
Sugar is loaded into a spreader (a large, gray machine) by hand. The spreader then distributes the sugar all across the conveyor belt that the candy will ride during production.
Just Born, Inc., produces 1.2 billion marshmallow goodies each year for all occasions. That's a heap of Peeps! Chicks and bunnies are the most popular shapes and are made year-round at the plant.
4. Peeps Are Made
No photos are allowed of the machinery that actually pumps the marshmallow into the right shape. That's top secret. However, we can tell you that the company is still using the same technology that was first developed in the 1950s by the Just Born company.
5. Bring on the Breeze
Naked Peeps make their way along the conveyor belt (where they travel backward the whole way!) toward the wind tunnel. This is where air will whip the sugar around so that it sticks evenly to the warm, wet marshmallow.
6. Recycling the Sugar
The sugar-coated candies slide off a solid conveyor belt on to a grated one that lets the extra sugar fall through. That sugar will be reused.
In 1953, Peeps were made by hand with a pastry tube. Making one Peep took about 27 hours! Today, Peeps can be made in just six minutes.
7. The Eyes Have It
In the factory is a machine whose sole job it is to give the Peeps their peepers, which are actually tiny dots of an edible wax. The machine can pump out 3,800 eyes per minute.
8. Hop in the Box
The final stage of the conveyor takes the candies through a very cold area so they can firm up enough to easily drop off the conveyor belt and into boxes. The chicks stick together five at a time. When it comes to bunnies, it's four per box.
9. It's a Wrap
The next stop for the boxes of candy is a wrapping station.
are sealed with plastic wrap, either individually, two at a time, or
Peeps chicks come in five colors, listed here in order of popularity: yellow, pink, lavender, blue, and white.
Peeps Hit the Road
10. Ready to Ship
Finally, the packaged chicks are placed in cardboard boxes for shipping. Peeps are sold in 30 countries around the world.
The Just Born company is named for Sam Born, who grew up in
Russia and came to
America in 1910. He started his business with a small candy shop
York City. The company's headquarters has been in Bethlehem,
Pennsylvania since 1932.