Discover more from Notes from the Field
Happy Easter, readers
I hope that if you celebrate, you are enjoying the season. Today, to follow my various posts on Christmas food, I wanted to talk about an Easter tradition.
Eggs you are familiar with, as they are a symbol of birth and fertility, and have been part of various European Spring and Easter festivals since medieval times. (The practice of decorating eggs and using them to celebrate rebirth also existed in other older cultures, including the Sumerians and the ancient Egyptians).
Today’s chocolate eggs entered commercial production in the second half of the nineteenth century, and have been a standard part of Easter celebrations since then.
But I want to write about another Easter tradition: Peeps.
Peeps, if you don’t already eat them, are small marshmallows, coated in colored sugar, and available in various shapes. Peep “chicks” have long been available, there are also bunnies for Easter, ghosts and jack o’lanterns for Halloween, trees for Christmas, and various other versions.
They are produced by the Just Born candy company, named for its founder, Samuel Born. But Just Born didn’t create Peeps. They acquired the product when they took over the Rodda candy company of Lancaster, Pa, in 1953. The Rodda company (name suggests a Welsh background of the family, which makes sense for Pennsylvania), had built up a trade making specialty treats for the Pennsylvania Dutch of Lancaster, including religious themed candies and shapes like crosses. They started making Peeps sometime before the 1940s.
The Rodda process was laborious, with each peep being hand piped from marshmallow foam, and left to dry. It took hours to make each tray, and they were a small-batch item for Easter only.
When Just Born took over, their first step was to automate. They found a way to make peeps in a fraction of the time, and could soon churn out trays and trays - to the point that today there are over 2 BILLION peeps made each year. Which seems like a lot. Even more than I could eat. They had to pause production during the pandemic, but now are back on track.
People who like peeps like them a lot, and do crazy things - from dipping them in chocolate to exploding them in the microwave. I put them in hot chocolate so their little head bobs above the warm liquid while their little body dissolves into a syrup below. (Ok that makes me sound crazy too).
Their bright colors and squidgy little forms are so cheerful. They sit there in little rows in their package, engaging in a way regular marshmallows are not. They are wonderful little avatars of seasonal joy. May peeps be with you all.
What else I’ve been doing:
I’ve set up an etsy shop as an outlet for my compulsive knitting. I love making lace and patterns, and have several shawls now for sale.