Saturday, May 03, 2014

Everyday A Holiday

It's a momentous weekend. Not just because Saturday is the DC Funk Parade in Washington, DC, or the day of The Biggest Little Air Show in San Carlos, CA, or even because it's the fifth annual Bach and Roll Casino Night supporting the Community Music School in Raleigh, NC. Each is an exciting event in its own right, and worthy of attention and attendance. But each is also strictly local in its orientation, catering just to those in the area or passing through. No, the weekend is a big deal because all across this great land of ours we'll all be able to go out as one people and for the first time purchase Peeps Minis.

You probably though that because you didn't pick up a box of regular Easter Peeps a few weeks ago that your ship had sailed. True, you figured didn't have to wait a full year until next Easter, since Just Born, the manufacturer of the little marshmallow chicks, also makes summertime ones in lemonade and bubble gum flavors, as well as Halloween and Christmas variations. But should you have been in the mood for an intense sugar rush dusted with sweet crystals in a styrofoam-esque wrapper in June, you would have been out of luck. But no more. That's because you (or someone who looked a lot like you) responded in enough focus groups that yes, you would be thrilled to have them all the time. And so Peeps Minis are here.

Make no mistake: these are not your mother's Peeps. They're designed for a millennial generation that likes things small, intense and easy to digest, be it their technology, media or their candy. And so Minis are about 40% smaller than the usual Easter chicks, and come in sour watermelon, strawberry creme and chocolate crème flavors. But to pop one in your mouth is still to bring back memories of bunnies and chocolate eggs and all that goes with it. Or as Brian Bachrach, the senior marketing manager at Just Born says, "We're making every day into a holiday."

It's building on a trend that candy makers across the spectrum have been seeing for the last few years. Peeps was already at the forefront of one of them, the increased demand for holiday themed goodies, from Reese's hearts on Valentine's Day, to red and green M&M's at Christmas. But two of the other big trends that have been on the rise are candies with intense flavors, as well as smaller, more bite-sized goodies. And the new Peeps Minis play nicely into those two niches.

Perhaps that's why the company is not just expanding its retail offering alone, but broadening its overall footprint. Currently there are three Peeps stores (near their home base in Bethlehem, PA, on the National Harbor in Baltimore, MD and at the Mall of America in Minnesota) where you can buy not only the candy, but Peeps gift items, stuffed animals and themed clothing (a tee shirt proclaims "Certified Chick Magnet"). The company has signed promotional deals with Six Flags, Disney and Toys R Us to increase visibility. And if they can make a Lego movie, you know it's just a matter of time until there's a Peep show (sorry). In fact, Filmmaker Adam Rifkin ("Detroit Rock City") has optioned the rights to make a family-friendly film "about an adventurous young Peep who gets separated from his sugared brethren on the eve of a championship Peep diorama contest." As for stars: Meryl Peep? (sorry again.) Justin Peeper? (one more, please?) Liam Peepson? (OK, I'm through.)

But back to the new Minis themselves. From a dietary standpoint, making them bite sized is probably not a bad idea. Falling somewhere between Tic-Tacs and a Snickers bar on the nutritional spectrum, there is no mention of Peeps of any size in the FDA's food pyramid. Containing as they do just sugar, corn syrup and gelatin (and trace amounts of preservative, flavoring and a little wax for the eyes), they're not going to have a major impact on your recommended daily intakes of any food groups. One Mini equals about 14 calories, and has just a few grams of carbohydrates and sugar, and a tenth of a gram of protein. But what did you expect? After all, remember: they just look like chicken.


Marc Wollin of Bedford used to love Peeps, until everybody gave him some. His column appears regularly in The Record-Review, The Scarsdale Inquirer and online at, as well as via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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