Peeps, the maker of those marshmallow chicks, is making a play at other holidays, expanding the times during the year you can eat sugar, covered in sugar. And so far it’s paying off.
Not everyone likes the idea of a Peeps-filled candy aisle. Peeps are among the more divisive candies. “They’re basically a urine colored marshmallow made to look like a small chick,” says "Candyfreak" author Steve Almond.
He doesn’t like Peeps.
“They are a candy that is somewhere between candy and gag item,” he says, “I don’t mean you gag on them -- though that might also be true. I mean that they are just don’t know a lot of people who are like, oh, I’m just really hungry for an artificially colored marshmallow product.”
But he gets why they are invading grocery stores on other holidays (they’re introducing summer Peeps this year). “If you’ve got a brand identity and a niche in the market, which for Peeps is somewhere between a candy and a toy,” he says, “then you just expand your reach to the other holidays.”
And those new Peeps, ranging from strawberry-flavored chicks dipped in chocolate to sugar cookie-flavored Christmas Peeps, are selling. Maybe not to Steve Almond. But to the rest of us.
“If you combined all of the holidays,” says JustBorn spokesperson Ellie Deardorff, “we’re over two billion Peeps being produced for the year.” One billion for Easter, another billion for the rest of the year. JustBorn is a private company, so we don’t know the details, but Deardorff says 2012 was the company’s best year ever.
So why not make the pastel-colored, sugar-coated, baby marshmallow animals a year-round choice?
“A lot of it has to do with consumer anticipation of the product,” says IBISWorld analyst Nikoleta Panteva. Always-around peeps would be less fun to eat and to make fun of.