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Peep this 

Lezlie Lowe can’t escape year-round Peeps—and neither can you.

News on the stale Easter candy front: those five Marshmallow Peeps hardening on your kitchen counter aren’t the last of this year’s flock. The little fellas left millions of sickly sweet brothers and sisters back at the factory. And here they come now.

Marshmallow Peeps—the toxic-yellow sugar-encrusted baby bird-shaped candies—are no longer hatching just at Easter. You can get heart-shaped Marshmallow Peeps at Valentine’s, pumpkin Peeps at Halloween and sticky granulated Peeps trees at Christmas. You can even buy a Wham-O Marshmallow Peeps Maker and fashion them at home any time you please.

A Peep at every holiday, a Peep in every mouth; I may be given to hyperbole, but year-round Peeps are—together with genetically modified potatoes and a McDonald’s restaurant in Rome’s Piazza di Spagna—just one more small step towards the end of food as we know it.

Marshmallow Peeps used to be sacred—revered, at least, for their relative scarcity, like an endangered species. Even if you didn’t like to eat them, you had to respect them.

Personally, the thought of eating a package of Peeps makes me want to gack. Still, when I see them at the grocery store, my first reaction is “Mmmm”…then “Awww.” Chalk it up to nostalgia. I always got Peeps from my mum at Easter as a kid.

It’s not just me. Marshmallow Peeps enjoy an internet presence that can only be described as cult-like.

Much of their online following is centred on novel ways of consuming them (bloggers write of blowing them up in microwaves or hardening them for years before eating them. A team at has logged extensive documentation of Peep solubility and low-pressure environment testing).

But there’s more to Peeps than their freakish followers. They’re comfort food, a generations-old Easter basket staple. Their plutonium-grade sugariness—even the mere sight of them hardening on a shelf—brings back good feelings from childhood for thousands of Canadians. If British food writer Nigella Lawson can proclaim the comfort-food joys of bacon-on-white-bread sandwiches (in as fussy and seminal a cookbook as her How to Eat) then Peeps can attain the rank of comfort food too.

Alas, the worth of Peeps is on the wane.

Their value was never in nutrition, of course; it was in their cultural significance. A cultural significance that is lost if you can whip up a batch in the kitchen every Sunday morning as a side for your pancakes. A cultural significance that is rooted in limited availability, entrenched in what used to be “Peeps season” (mid-February through Easter). A cultural significance crushed by the new Marshmallow Peeps tagline: “Always in season.”

Organic eaters and slow food movement adherents might scoff, but honouring the original seasonal nature of Peeps is the same as trying to stick to a diet of locally grown produce or refusing to buy strawberries in February. It’s saying no to the gotta-have-it–now attitude so many of us apply to food these days. It’s rejecting culinary homogeneity—yes, even when we’re talking about tinted sucrose mixed up and squirted into the shape of a bird.

Easter’s over. Let’s help get Peeps back on the endangered list. At least until next spring.

Make a peep. Email:

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