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23 Bizarre Things Ceremonially Dropped on New Year's Eve

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Don’t live anywhere near New York City, but still desperate to see something - anything - drop during a countdown to 2012 on New Year’s Eve?

We can help. (Well, we can help some of you. You might have to go on a road trip.) Check out these places that have put their own twists on the rather odd tradition of hoisting a random, giant object up in the air to celebrate the beginning of a new year.

Image credit: Matt Smith/Express-Times /Landov

1. A giant Peep in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Peeps’ parent company, Just Born, calls the eastern Pennsylvania town home. Though Peeps come in shapes to suit every holiday these days, the drop is done with a traditional chick that flashes different colors at midnight.

2. A three-foot tall, thirty-pound wooden flea in Eastover, North Carolina. Yeah, it’s a real head scratcher, unless you know that the town was called Flea Hill until the 1920s. I don’t know about you, but I think I’d let that nickname die.

3. A 350-pound electronic Moon Pie in Mobile, Alabama.

Why a Moon Pie? According to PR Newswire, the tasty snack cake is the “favored throw” at the Mardi Gras parade (never mind that whole bead thing), which originated in Mobile. Call me crazy, but I think they need to switch to a real 350-pound Moon Pie.

4. A real (dead) carp in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. Most carp don’t see 15 seconds of fame, let alone 15 minutes. But every year in Prairie du Chien, Lucky the Carp is the center of attention when he’s lowered onto a throne to celebrate the new year. It’s the culmination of a week of activities, which includes events such as hanging carp ornaments on a pine tree, the Carp Plunge (like a polar bear plunge) and busting open a carp piñata. As far as we know, the piñata contains candy, not carp.

5. An olive in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. It descends from the top of Price Tower, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building, and falls neatly into a martini glass.

6. A beach ball in Panama City Beach, Florida. Paying homage to the tourist industry that keeps the town hopping, Panama City Beach drops their 800-pound beach ball at midnight. Those who prefer beach balls of the non-deadly variety can attend the children’s drop at 8:30, when hundreds of inflatables are released from overhead nets.

7. A cherry blossom in Macon, Georgia. Perhaps, like me, you thought Washington, D.C., was the cherry blossom hotspot of the U.S. Like me, you’d be wrong. Macon actually boasts way more cherry trees than D.C. does - to the tune of about 300,000 trees in all.

8. A pineapple in Honolulu, Hawaii. Though this just started last year, the Kahala Hotel hopes that dropping a large version of Hawaii’s signature fruit will become a state tradition.

9. A sardine in Eastport, Maine. The area has sardine fishing and canning roots, but Eastport also drops a Maple Leaf as a friendly gesture to their Canadian neighbors across the bay.

10. A wrench in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Get it? Mechanicsburg?

11. A glowing duck decoy in Havre de Grace, Maryland. Havre de Grace boasts a Pat Vincenti Duck Decoy store. It's also home to the Duck Decoy Museum.

12. A live possum in a cage in Brasstown, North Carolina, the possum capital of the world. Though the little guy is fed and released post-drop, PETA has petitioned the town to stop torturing the critter.

13. A peach in Atlanta, Georgia. Go figure, right?

14. A glowing pinecone in Flagstaff, Arizona. In case you’re missing the connection, here’s a bit of trivia for you: Flagstaff sits in one of the largest Ponderosa Pine forests in the world. The town has come a long way from the garbage can with pinecones glued on it that was used during the drop's inaugural year in 1999 - see for yourself:

15. An apple in Manhattan, Kansas. Paying homage to their “Little Apple” nickname, Manhattan drops a brightly-lit Red Delicious.

16. A big chunk of cheese in Plymouth, Wisconsin. Sadly, it’s not real dairy, but merely an 80-pound brick of styrofoam sprayed yellow.

17. A drag queen in a large red high heel in Key West, Florida. Her name is Sushi (the drag queen, not the stiletto). If that’s not your cup of tea, you have other options in Key West: they also drop a six-foot conch shell and a pirate wench.

18. Two hundred pounds of bologna in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, the home of Lebanon bologna.

19. Coal in Shamokin, Pennsylvania. As you might suspect, Shamokin is a coal mining town proud of its heritage.

What Goes Up...

What goes up, stays up... at least when it comes to these objects that are raised instead of dropped.

20. The elevator at the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington.

21. An orange wearing sunglasses in Miami, Florida.

22. A watermelon ball in Vincennes, Indiana. When it gets to the top, the ball opens to release 12 real watermelons, making a mess in the splash zone below that would make Gallagher proud.

23. A giant Hershey’s Kiss in Hershey, Pennsylvania (of course).

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20 Delicious Facts About Peeps
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You know whether you prefer chicks to bunnies, fresh to stale, or plain to chocolate-covered. But there’s a lot you may not know about Peeps, everyone’s favorite (non-chocolate) Easter candy.

1. IT USED TO TAKE 27 HOURS TO MAKE A PEEP.

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That was in 1953, when Sam Born acquired the Rodda Candy Company and its line of marshmallow chicks. Back then, each chick was handmade with a pastry tube. Just Born quickly set about automating the process, so that it now takes just six minutes to make a Peep.

2. AN AVERAGE OF 5.5 MILLION PEEPS ARE MADE EVERY DAY.

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All of them at the Just Born factory in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In one year, the company makes enough peeps to circle the earth—twice!

3. YELLOW CHICKS ARE THE ORIGINAL PEEP, AND STILL THE FAVORITE.

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Yellow bunnies are the second most popular color/shape combination. Pink is the second best-selling color.

4. THE RECIPE HAS STAYED PRETTY MUCH THE SAME.

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The recipe begins with a boiling batch of granulated sugar, liquid sugar, and corn syrup, to which gelatin and vanilla extract are later added. (You can take a virtual factory tour here).

5. THE EQUIPMENT HAS ALSO STAYED THE SAME. UNTIL RECENTLY.

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Since Just Born turned Peeps-making into an automated process, the chicks have been carefully formed by a top-secret machine known as The Depositor. Created by Sam Born’s son, Bob, The Depositor could manufacture six rows of five Peeps apiece in a fraction of the time it took workers to form them by hand. And that same machine that Bob built has been keeping the Peeps flowing ever since. Until recently …

In 2014, the company announced that it was planning to renovate its manufacturing plant, including The Depositor. “It’s a little sad,” vice president of corporate affairs Matthew Pye told Candy Industry magazine. “Bob Born made it from scratch in 1954 and it allowed us to distribute and grow the brand nationally." 

6. THE NEW EQUIPMENT COULD MEAN NEW PEEPS INNOVATIONS.

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“The investment in our marshmallow making process will allow for more efficiency, more consistency, improved quality, and additional innovation capabilities,” co-CEO Ross Born told Candy Industry magazine about the new depositor, which will be able to produce a wider variety of Peeps in all sizes. “The [old] Peeps line did one thing and one thing very well—cranking out chicks day in and day out. Five clusters, just in different colors,” Born said.

7. PEEPS USED TO HAVE WINGS.

They were clipped in 1955, two years after the first marshmallow chicks hatched, to give the candy a sleeker, more “modern” look.

8. THE EYES ARE THE FINAL TOUCH.

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The final flourish for all of these squishy balls of sweetness is adding the eyes, which are made of carnauba—a non-toxic edible wax (that is also found in some shoe polishes and car waxes, plus many other candies).

9. PEEPS MAY BE DESTRUCTIBLE, BUT THEIR EYES ARE NOT.

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In 1999, a pair of scientists at Emory University—dubbed “Peeps Investigators”—decided to test the theory that Peeps are an indestructible food. In addition to a microwave, the pair tested the candy’s vulnerability to tap water, boiling water, acetone, and sulfuric acid (they survived them all). When they upped the ante with some Phenol, the only things that didn’t disappear were the eyes. 

10. THEY REALLY ARE EVERYONE’S FAVORITE NON-CHOCOLATE EASTER CANDY.

For the past 20 years, no other non-chocolate Easter candy has been able to compete with the power of Peeps. With more than 1.5 billion of them consumed each spring, Peeps have topped the list of most popular Easter treats for two decades.

11. THERE ARE SUGAR-FREE PEEPS.

Counterintuitive, we know. But in 2007, the first line of sugar-free Peeps hit store shelves.

12. THERE ARE ALSO CHOCOLATE-COVERED PEEPS.

Chocolate-covered Peeps hit the market in 2010. Today there’s a full line of them for every occasion.

13. PEEPS COME IN A VARIETY OF FLAVORS.

Color and shape (i.e. yellow chick) are no longer the only ways to categorize a Peep. They now come in an array of flavors, including raspberry, blueberry, fruit punch, sour watermelon, candy cane, and orange creme.

14. PEEPS LIP GLOSS IS A THING.

Yep.

15. ON NEW YEAR'S EVE, BETHLEHEM DROPS A GIANT PEEP.

PEEPS®

The drop is done with a traditional chick that flashes different colors at midnight.

16. BELIEVE IT OR NOT, PEEPS ARE NOT JUST BORN’S BEST-SELLING BRAND.

That honor belongs to Mike and Ike. (Sorry, Peepsters.)

17. YOU CAN GET YOUR PEEPS FIX IN LIQUID FORM.

PEEPS® and Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc.

For the 2015 Easter season, Peeps teamed up with Illinois’ Prairie Farms to produce a limited lineup of Peeps-flavored milk. For the past two years, it's come back by popular demand.

18. THEY’RE A BOON TO CREATIVITY.

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All over the country, Peeps have become the preferred media for a number of highly anticipated annual art contests.

19. 37,000 PEEPS WEIGH ABOUT AS MUCH AS ONE BOY BAND.

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At least if that boy band is One Direction—prior to Zayn Malik's departure. The scientists at Just Born have estimated that it would take more than 37,000 pieces of marshmallow deliciousness to equal the combined weight of the band. Following Zayn Malik's departure, the Peeps team adjusted that number to 29,882.

20. THERE WERE APPROXIMATELY 2 BILLION PEEPS PRODUCED IN 2016.

That's a lot of Peeps!

Updated for 2017.

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8 Surprising Uses for Peeps
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You can eat marshmallow Peeps, and you can put them in someone's Easter basket. But that's just the beginning of what you can do with those small blobs of sugary goodness. Branch out and use your Peeps in new ways this year.

1. S'MORES

Peeps are marshmallows, and can be toasted over a campfire just like their plain, non-sugar-coated brothers—which means you can make classic S'mores out of them. Best of all: you don't even need a campfire to do it. Serious Eats has a recipe for them that they call S'meeps, which only requires that you pop them in the oven for a short time. If you're a Peeps purist, forget the graham crackers and chocolate and enjoy the unique taste of campfire-toasted Peeps all by themselves.

2. WREATHS

Vanessa Brady at Tried & True has made several Peeps wreaths that are sure to inspire you to do the same. (She even has a tutorial to get you started.)

3. PEEPS-KABOBS

If you want to trick a kid into eating a fruit salad, just serve it up on a stick—with a marshmallow Peep in the middle. Blogger Melodramatic Mom made these for an irresistible after-school snack for her kids.

4. ART SUPPLIES

With their consistent shape and size, and variety of bright colors, Peeps can be used as pixels for larger artworks. Ang Taylor made this Mario jumping a Piranha Plant out of marshmallow chicks and bunnies. To be honest, there are many ways Peeps can be used as an art medium, as we've seen many times before (like in this collection of Peeps dioramas).

5. CAKE TOPPERS

Peeps chicks and bunnies are ready-made decorations that will easily stick to cake frosting and make for desserts that are both seasonal and colorful. If you need a recipe, check out this one for a Marbled Cake with Peeps and M&Ms. See some more cake decorating tips here.

6. PEEPS POPS

There's no danger of misshapen cake pops or drippy lollipops when you start with a Peep on a stick. Michelle from Sugar Swings made these candy pops out of marshmallow Peeps, and using Peeps left her plenty of time to decorate them as Star Wars characters. Michelle has plenty of other Peeps pops ideas you can try out, too.

7. PEEPS KRISPIES TREATS

We've seen that Peeps can be substituted for marshmallows in recipes, but remember that Peeps come in a variety of colors and can be bought in small batches. That makes them really useful for coloring separate portions of your Rice Krispies treat recipe. Kristen at Yellowblissroad has a recipe for Layered Peeps Crispy Treats, and a video of the process at Facebook.

8. DIORAMAS

Using Peeps as characters in a diorama, where you can let your imagination run wild, has become somewhat of an Easter tradition. Kate Ramsayer, Helen Fields, and Joanna Church put their heads together to recreate the Broadway musical Hamilton in marshmallow with a diorama that featured the lyrics to the show's opening number.

While The Washington Post has suspended its annual Peeps Diorama Contest after 10 years, other newspapers—including the Twin Cities Pioneer Press and the Washington City Paper—plus local libraries across the country are carrying on the tradition and holding Peeps diorama contests. But you don't have to enter a contest to have fun making a scene with your family.

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