Not a Peep?

Just Born candy company, headquartered in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is shutting down in response to the Coronavirus. Just Born is the maker of Peeps, the iconic marshmallow candy shaped roughly like a baby chick.

This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to get Peeps for your Easter baskets. Just Born has already shipped its supplies for Easter 2020. Workers will be paid through April 7, the anticipated reopening date, and the entire factory is getting a deep cleaning.

Just Born candy company was founded in 1910 by a Russian immigrant named Sam Born. In 1953, Just Born bought the Rodda Candy Company. They were mostly interested in Rodda’s jelly bean technology, but they discovered that there were women hand piping marshmallow chicks in a back room. Each one, complete with hand-piped wings, took 27 hours to complete. That included the cooling time, of course, but each chick was an individual artisan product.

The chicks were apparently made only at Easter for special customers — but they still required 80 workers to create sinuous curves of marshmallow in white and yellow to fill those special orders.

Now one peep is a 6 minute job. No wings, but the streamlined chicks still pack a sugary punch. Sam Born’s son Bob came up with a machine known as “the Depositer” which could create six trays of five peeps each, all at one time. It was a triumph of automation.

At the turn of the 21st century, blue and lavender peeps joined the yellow, white, and pink varieties. Easter bunnies were added, along with Hallowe’en ghosts and other seasonal shapes. In 2014, a new machine was put into service. Sam’s grandson expressed nostalgia for the Depositer, but the company was happy to be able to expand their products to include chocolate-enrobed cherry flavored mousse bears and many more options.

Peeps fans will be relieved that Just Born was able to keep the factories open long enough to get their Easter shipments out.

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