The reasons why some people, places and things storm their way to pop culture phenomenon status are about as elusive as David Hasselhoff’s continued popularity in Germany. But sure enough, every spring, just as the cherry blossoms enter full bloom in Washington, DC, so begins the run on Peeps. Yes, Peeps. Those adorable and brightly colored balls of sugar and gelatin, molded to resemble all manner of Easter-type creatures.
But since their introduction in 1953, Peeps have found their way into more than just the bellies of their rabid fan base. They’ve served as muse to Altoona-based kitsch music duo Dann/Servello. And even formed the physical foundation of an NCAA Sweet Sixteen bracket, created by the kids at The Boys and Girls Club of Westminster, Maryland.
Here are 10 other places where Peeps are showing up in popular culture.
1. The Washington Post
For seven years, The Washington Post has hosted a Peeps Diorama Contest, in which the marshmallow candies are used to re-create scenes from politics and pop culture. Of the more than 650 entries submitted this year, Charlottesville, Virginia residents Leslie Brown and Lani Hoza’s “Peeps Mourn Their Peeps: Twinkie, Rest in Peeps” reigned supreme.
2. The St. Paul Pioneer Press
While other newspapers have picked up on the trend, Minnesota’s St. Paul Pioneer Press originated the Peeps Diorama Contest, which is now in its tenth year. (In 2009, they also added a short video component.) Among this year’s winners is the doubly sweet “Life of Pie," created by Ron Young of Shoreview, MN.
3. The Baltimore Sun
The Baltimore Sun puts a culinary twist on the marshmallow competition, inaugurating a Peeps Recipe Contest this year, with entries ranging from savory to sickeningly sweet. Eleven-year-old Anna Lawson nabbed the Most Creative title with her Peep Pot Pie.
4. Mall of America
Peeps-makers Just Born aren’t about to miss out on the candy frenzy they created. In addition to a dedicated website, they operate three standalone Peeps & Company retail stores, one in Maryland’s National Harbor, another at Minnesota’s Mall of America, and the newest—opened just last month—near the company headquarters in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In addition to a year-round stream of Peeps in sundry colors, flavors, shapes, and sizes, there’s a full supply of chick-themed apparel and accessories, from coffee mugs to iPhone covers.
5. Your iPod
Have you ever wondered what a Peep might sound like? Download the Peeps Sing Along album—featuring Peep-ified versions of such classics as "Celebration" and "I Believe I Can Fly"—for a sawbuck and you’ll have your answer.
6. A Theater Near You
“They were born in the mind of a Russian immigrant, hatched in Easter baskets, and eaten by the dozens across the country. Then they armed themselves with lances, stood in front of trucks, mutated in microwave ovens and set out on their own.”
So goes the synopsis of The Power of the Peep, filmmaker Matthew Beals’ 43-minute documentary on the history and cultural significance of the 60-year-old Easter candy. Here’s the trailer.
7. Your Bookshelf
One way to ensure your kids don’t overdo it on the Peep-eating? Turn them into a piñata (the candy, not the kids). In Peeps!, food writer Charity Ferreira and photographer Liz Wolfe offer up two dozen ways to get creative with your Peeps, from baking with them to using them as chopstick rests. (Does that latter use really require instructions?)
Video-sharing site RecordSetter was founded on the idea that we all have one unique talent. A quick search of the site reveals that at least seven of those natural gifts involve Peeps. Personal bests recorded here include "Most Peeps Placed on a Sleeping Baby in a Stop-Motion Film" (3) and "Most Peeps Balanced on an iPhone" (20).
9. The Racine Art Museum
Moira Coon, "Run Rabbit Run." Photograph by Jessica Z Schafer.
For 11 months out of the year, Wisconsin’s Racine Art Museum is a well-respected cultural institute that showcases one of the country’s most impressive collections of contemporary crafts. But come Easter, it’s Peeps Central, when the museum displays a wide selection of “Peep-powered” works of art, curated from submissions from around the world. This year’s exhibition will feature 109 entries from more than 145 artists.
10. Peeps Show
David Ottogalli/Peeps Show
Peeps art becomes high art in the (sugar-encrusted) hands of David Ottogalli. A lover of all things bright and sugary, the DC-based artist has been creating Peeps-based art and installations for 15 years. Though he has worked with candy and cereal as well, he admits that the classic yellow chick is still have favorite material. Ottogalli’s work has been displayed from the Peeps & Company store in National Harbor to the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Through April 1st, his 4,100-Peep take on springtime—“Everything’s Coming Up Peeps”—will be on display at Miss Pixie’s Furnishings & Whatnot in Washington, DC.