Woo & hoo! Another year skids by, and time for DFHC’s 4th annual Peeps Rainbow Roundup. We’ll look at the present state of their poultry offerings, and add a little more to the history of Peeps. I might mention that the past 3 editions, plus last year’s preview, have much information and many pictures not repeated here, so you might want to check them out…PEEPSapalooza! (2011)… Son of PEEPSapaloooza! (2012)… pEEps prEEview (2013)… and PEEPSapaloopza! III (2013)… onward then into the Candy Coop…
I find it frustrating that many companies act as if the way they’re doing things today is the way they’ve always done things. Just Born, maker of marshmallow Peeps, for example…last year they touted a 60th anniversary, 1953-2013. 60th anniversary of what exactly? Of their purchase of the Rodda Candy Company, which had been making marshmallow Peeps for some time before that. True, the original Rodda Peeps had wings…Just Born snipped them off to streamline production. But Peeps were older than 60 years, obviously. OK, Rodda Peeps versus Just Born Peeps…trouble is, for years after that purchase, Just Born still marketed them under the Rodda brand, as seen above. When did they switch? Dunno yet, altho it was still Rodda in 1977, as seen in this page from a candy jobber catalog, below. Thinking back to a childhood of 40, 50, 60 years ago, if “Just Born” doesn’t ring any bells, at least not Peeps-wise…good, it shouldn’t! Thus a bit more of the history of Peeps has been unravelled. See what I come up with by next year! If there is a next year…
…because for me, Peeps are fast approaching a saturation mark, a tipping point, a “jump the shark” moment…where the sheer number of variations is so great that it just isn’t fun any more. For me, this has happened with Oreos, Hershey’s Kisses, M&M’s, Cheerios, Kool-Aid, several other iconic products. There are simply so many varieties that come and go…regular additions to their line, seasonal versions, and “limited editions”…that I just don’t give a flying fox. And I’m only talking about Peeps chicks…there are many other marshmallow shapes around at various times of year. But for now, I can still summon up the will to wrangle them chicks…so here’s what’s what…and because things are getting so complicated, I will divide them into 3 categories: Regular, Dipped, and Flavored Peeps.
REGULAR PEEPS…Well, they call them “original” on their website…not on the packaging…yet. And can “classic” be far behind? The basic 6 are back for Easter 2014…unchanged since Orange was added for Easter 2009, after debuting at Hallowe’en 2003…see below, under 4th of July. Honestly, I’d say they’ve got the Pascal Pastel Pallet pretty much saturated…and the shelf-space needed is extensive…probably maxed out by now. Below left are your Pink, Orange, Blue, Yellow, Lavender, and Green. On the right, the 2 extinct colors…White, which along with Yellow and Pink was an original color going back to the 1950s, and was still available as of 2003…and Red, a Target Stores exclusive from about 2006-2009. There had been hints that Red might have been available earlier…again, see 4th of JULY, below. Notice that these 2 have returned in the form of the Christmas Peeps Pops…albeit en brochette. There’s also Purple, a mini-Peeps color that along with Orange and Green were available for Hallowe’en 2012…I have no evidence that they returned in 2013, and they are no longer listed on Just Born’s website.
DIPPED PEEPS…No new varieties have been added over the past year, and one has gone away…Caramel. Could the bloom be off the base-dipped-in-chocolate rose? Always seemed to me to be gilding the lily…Peeps are marshmallows, first, last, and always. FLAVORED PEEPS…When Party Cake Peeps were brought out early in 2013, it was a first for Just Born in 2 ways. Never before had they tried to market a Peeps variety that would be available year-round. They haven’t shown up in stores where I live, except at a “dollar” store…is that an ominous sign? Still, they are currently included in the long list of products on their website.
Also, they are not the first flavored Peeps…except for Easter Yellow and Hallowe’en Orange, all of the Dipped Peeps were flavored. But Party Cake was the first non-dipped flavored variety. I haven’t tried one, so I still wonder exactly what “flavor” is cake flavor…well, among the Christmas dippeds, what’s Sugar Cookie flavor? Cookie dough? So is cake flavor baked cookie dough? At any rate, the time seemed to be right…altho there have long been products with colored jimmies (as we used to call them, growing up in the Boston area)…Sprinkled Chips Ahoy! and ubiquitous canned frosting kits come to mind…the difference now is the identification with birthday cakes or party cakes. Mind you, Party Cake Peeps don’t have real sprinkles, just little colored flecks that approximate them…but close enough. And who’s on the bandwagon? Oreos, Pop-tarts, Jell-o topping, various brands of ice cream (with sprinkles in it, not on it)…and I expect more…a fad’s a fad, nez pah? But it certainly looks like flavored, non-dipped Peeps is the direction of further expansion. Last spring, it was Sweet Lemonade and Bubble Gum…the latter an odd choice, as they found it necessary in their advertising to point out that it was bubble gum flavor…these Peeps were’t gum you could chew! And this Easter, we have Sour Watermelon and Blue Raspberry…now there’s one of my pet peeves. Actual raspberries come in red, black, purple, yellow, and white. Why blue, which has become a confectionary standard over the past several decades…where’ s Pink Blueberry? Now those 4 are said on the website to be Wal-Mart exclusives…available nowhere else. Also this year, 3 more Target exclusives…Strawberry Creme, Orange Creme, and Vanilla Creme…altho the Vanilla was also available early last year, part of the 60th Anniversary hoop-dee-do…and notice sometimes they’re pictured as being more “colorful” than at other times. Personally, I don’t like this particular marketing gimmick…a couple autumns ago, I was all primed to sample Pumpkin Spice Pop-Tarts…but guess what, no Target stores where I live…d’oh! And it’s interesting to notice while advertising touts this exclusivity, the packaging itself does not mention any particular store chain, leading me to speculate that these could easily “escape” to other venues.
Which of these Flavored Peeps will survive, and what new concoctions are lurking just around the corner, remains to be seen. But there is one more mystery area we must investigate…
…and that’s 4th of July Peeps…Based on Just Born’s current website, the Bubble Gum and Sweet Lemonade Peeps are being positioned as summer fare. Add that to Valentine’s Day, Easter, Hallowe’en, and Christmas, and you’ve pretty much got the holidays covered. St. Patrick’s Day perhaps? Beyond green jelly beans and mint M&M’s, nobody’s doing much with that. The lone possibility remaining would be the 4th of July…and we do see some red, white, and blue products out from year to year, but not many, compared to the other holidays. In 2003, Just Born took a stab at it in honor of the 50th Anniversary (not of Peeps themselves, but of them acquiring Peeps!) with both chicks and star-shapes. I saw the stars, but not the chicks, advertised again in 2004, and then gone. In fact, of the 3 special editions on the left, only Orange survived…not the “scariest” color in the paintbox, seems to me…and notice Red for Xmas, pre-dating Target. As you can see bottom right, they tried to get patriotic again in 2013, this time vanilla flavored…but these are not now included on the website.
And there you have it, caught up to date. Yeah, I’m still hoping for Licorice Peeps in Black, but I’m not holding my breath…
Come Independence Day, just 2 ½ months hence, will star-spangled Peeps be available again? As I said, they aren’t currently included on the Just Born website’s annual calendar, but does the right hand really know what the left hand is doing? And the fact is, they are apparently available now…they’re on a website called The Official Peeps Store, website peepsandcompany.com. Along with nearly every imaginable Peeps tie-in product…I suppose it’s a sign of the times that there’s no Peeps frisbee. The candle above gets me…so what’s the smell of a burning Peep?
Then there’s the enormous party pack…60 Peeps, all colors, for about $17…notice the presumably unintentional homophobic dig: It’s not a party without the chicks! Ouch! Ever since Peeps have become an institution, a cultural phenomenon, we’ve had all kinds of non-edible versions…salt-shakers anyone?…altho don’t tell me there isn’t a kid somewhere who won’t try to chow down on these cute plushies. As for Santa’s Helper…you don’t have to tell me…not Easter, no Peeps connection…can’t be helped… 😉 😉
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