It used to be that you had to wait for that time of year; Easter is just around the corner and you just can’t wait to sink your teeth into those fluffy, sugary bunnies. Now the wait isn’t nearly as long. Peeps have expanded their enterprise to include other holidays like Halloween, Christmas and Valentines. With the coming holidays, those famous fluffy marshmallow bunnies and chicks are on store shelves once again.
Peeps are not just a delicious smooshy treat with a sugar coating and cute faces. They are a versatile medium for an artist’s outlet. The marshmallow bunnies we know and love have been around since 1960 and originally came in white yellow and pink colors. Now Peeps can be bought and consumed year-round, with special holiday versions and flavors that are slightly more seasonal.
The original peep marshmallow treats came in the shape of baby chicks, which is how they got their names. They were originally made by another candy company and were bought out by Russian immigrant Sam Born. Born took the hand-formed marshmallow candy-making process and automated it. With machines in play, marshmallow Peeps were now able to be mass produced and other shapes were created to celebrate holidays. Shapes like the classic bunny were introduced about 20 years after the initial acquisition.
Fashion and merchandising have recently given new life to the popular holiday candy. In 2009 the Just Born company opened retail spaces and began selling all manner of Peeps-themed merchandise. Perhaps it’s just human nature or the muses that strike in a fickle manner, but Peeps have become a popular medium for artistic endeavors as well. Like gingerbread houses, the sky's the limit and the only thing stopping you is the scope of your imagination. Peeps are just too fun to mold, manipulate and eat. Dioramas, statues, and even fashion have been created using these delicious little morsels.
The Peeps Diorama:
Peeps diorama competitions have become increasingly popular over the years. Newspapers, businesses, and the like began hosting themed competitions and it’s fun to see how creative people can be. Each year the Wasatch County Library in Heber City, Utah has been putting on a “Peeps Show” around Easter time. The theme of the Peep Show is for each participant to create a scene from a book that they’ve read using marshmallow Peeps and other items crafted by hand. Each Scene is displayed for one business week and winners of the show are determined by popular vote as well as a panel of judges picked from the library staff.
The rules are simple; you can melt, mold, and manipulate the marshmallow candies any way you want. You can use any materials, edible or non-edible, as long as two Peeps in any form make their way into your diorama.
My son, age 6, chose to create a display that showcased the long-ago tragedy of the sinking of the Titanic. He chose his book from the children's section of the library and read it with his mom. Then they got to work. After choosing a box, he was tasked with figuring out a way to show what happened in the book using peeps. He came up with the clever idea of having half of the ship inside the box and the other half sticking out above.
The Diorama Process:
Using acrylic craft paints the box was transformed into the ocean. First, he painted the whole thing blue. Then to add depth and motion he added streaks of white and black to show light and shadow, adding in a few green stripes to imitate seaweed. He set the box aside to let it dry.
On the computer, with the help of a parent, he chose a black and white photograph of the actual Titanic. Printing it out was the easy part. The image of the ship was too large for one piece of paper so a little trimming and taping were necessary to piece the ship together. The next step was to cut out the ship and glue it to an old cereal box so that it could stand up.
The fun part of the project is heading to the store and finding candies that might go along with your theme. Luckily for the Titanic project, there are many candy fish available for purchase.
Using a fishing line and a needle the candy fish were suspended inside the box to make them look like they are swimming. There are also fish that were just glued to the backdrop and base of the diorama.
Time For the Peeps:
The Peeps representing the victims of the Titanic tragedy were probably the most fun to place. No glue was necessary for this one. They were simply cut in half and pressed to the cardboard, relying on their natural stickiness to keep them in place. Ears from a few unlucky Peeps were used to create arms for the Peeps in the water and a few poor peeps even became flotation devices.
The most important thing to remember when creating a Peeps diorama is to have fun and show your creative side. There are many examples available for inspiration on Pinterest.
You Can Do It Too:
It’s really not hard to create your own Peeps diorama or even a statue. There is a lot of inspiration out there and Peeps are just so versatile. There are many different shapes and colors available and you can mold and manipulate them quite easily. They can be painted, cut, melted or if you are handy with fabric you can dress them up.
One of the best things about creating art with an edible medium is that it’s typically kid-friendly. If you are a parent and love to create with the help of your little ones there is no better way to do it than with an edible project. It’s easy to create fun memories and fill your hearts and your bellies with a Peeps project. Let your child's imagination be your guide. Let them choose a favorite scene from a movie or a story and encourage them to think outside the box. Have fun and create delicious memories that will last much longer than those adorably delicious little treats.