3:30 pm, March 8th | by Colette McIntyre
Despite the fact that the present view from Jane Dough HQ windows looks more like Narnia than New York City, spring is coming. Perhaps, at this very moment, a crocus is rising from between cracks in the sidewalk, a lone shock of color in a wintery urban landscape (alternatively, if not in nature, I’m sure a similar image could be found on a few spoken word album covers or some high schooler’s DeviantArt). Pastel colors will be everywhere, annoying friends who get up earlier than eleven on weekends will pester you about picnicing in the park, and soon enough, Easter will arrive like a seven-year-old with a sugar rush. All the seasonal spring candies will come out of hiding along with your razor and linen pants; Robin Eggs, Cadbury Creme Eggs, solid chocolate rabbits — only these candies could overshadow the story of a guy dying and coming back to life. Above all, spring will bring the return of One Candy, One glorious, wonderful, marshmallowy Candy, One Candy to rule them all: Peeps.
This year, Peeps is celebrating its sixtieth birthday and its impending global domination. That last part I just made up but in reality a “Peeps Be Taking Over” party wouldn’t be unwarranted (or unwelcome, in my opinion); Just Born Inc., the company that acquired the Peeps brand in 1953, had its best financial year ever in 2012. While the company — whose name originates from a sticker that company founder Sam Born used to put on product packages to indicate freshness — has never suffered an unprofitable year, 2012 was a time of accelerated growth. Ross Born, third-generation operator of Just Born Inc., and David Shaffer, the company’s co-CEO, brought in new management, launched a massive marketing campaign, and entered back into the chocolate business, all to great success. The Peep brand was also expanded beyond Easter; the line now includes marshmallow gingerbread men and chocolate-covered pumpkins in addition to the familiar yellow chick.
While Just Born does not disclose revenue, Shaffer says it posted double-digit growth across all brands in 2012. Just Born is currently churning out about five million Peeps a day at its Pennsylvania plant; just this Easter season alone, the company will produce more than one billion Peeps, a record high. But will this be a classic case of mo’ Peeps, mo’ problems? Will this spike in the Peep market be followed by a Peepcession? Only time will tell.