Alright, so here’s the what’s what with Peeps. I am not getting lazy on you. I wracked my brain thinking of the best gluten, dairy, soy, nut and egg-free Easter treat that I know, and apart from Hot Crossed Buns (which I am not that crazy about), nothing really came to mind. This is an egg and chocolate holiday, people, and all of those chocolates seem to be inevitably filled with nuts, dairy or soy. Now, of course, you could make my little sunflower butter cups from a few weeks ago, but if you have already eaten the batch and can’t bear to make more, then I’ve got the next best thing: Peeps. I can remember being four, the year that our Basset Hound managed to, despite his three inch legs, climb up and eat both my brother and my Easter Baskets, and how disappointed I was that the dog got the Peeps too. I waited all year for those, and back then you really did have to wait. There were no ghost Peeps at Halloween. Who cared about the chocolate bunny with the weird, candied eyes, or the hollow, chocolate egg filled with fake grass and colorful jellybeans?! The dog could have those; they made me sick to my stomach. I had a singular and undying love of Peeps. Fortunately for me, so did my mother, and she magically produced more from the kitchen cabinet, saving the day for everyone. Strangely, this did not make me question the Easter Bunny’s existence, but that is a story for another day.
So, as I planned this blog entry, I figured I would do some research into my beloved Peeps. Let me first say that I love the First Born Company and here’s why: they could not have been more forthcoming about the Peeps’ allergen information. First I went to the website and looked at the FAQ page. The fact that “Do your candies contain any of the top 8 allergens” was even on their list of FAQs made me feel good about this candy company. I feel like other manufacturers aren’t as willing to talk about food allergies, that they don’t take them seriously enough to post more than a microscopic allergen warning on their candy wrappers. Then, because I suspected that these marshmallow dreams were gluten, dairy, soy, nut and egg-free but wanted to be sure, I called Just Born and spoke with Allison in their Consumer Relations department. She told me that Peeps are NOT made with any gluten, dairy, soy, nuts or eggs, but that they have recently rolled out a chocolate-dipped Peep which does contain dairy. She went on to say that you may see some packaging that does NOT offer a “may contain” warning because those packages reflect Peeps made before the chocolate-dipped-Peeps roll out. However, the more recently produced Peeps will have this warning on the packaging. Allison went on to say that they have a very stringent protocol for cleaning the equipment in between runs, and that the likelihood of cross-contamination is small. But, since the regular and the chocolate-covered Peeps are produced on the same line, there is a possibility, albeit miniscule, that cross-contamination could occur. I really appreciated this thoughtful and very thorough response. Peeps themselves remain gluten, soy, egg and nut-free, it’s just the production that could cause a problem. At the end of the phone call, Allison tipped me off to the fact that there are still a lot of pre-chocolate Peeps out there, and that I need only look for the old packaging. Hooray! I grabbed my purse.
So, I went to the store and sought out the oldest package of Peeps that I could find, one without the dairy warning, and wolfed down 4 in one sitting. Fortunately, the kids were at school, so they did not witness this gluttony, but I will tell you that they were good down to the last granule of neon yellow sugar. Will you out “old” Peeps this year? What do you think about their new production line situation? I’m a purist and wish that they had left well enough alone, but since there were so many old packages (and I assume that they have a shelf-life commensurate with a Twinkie’s), I felt fine giving them a try again this year. They are hard to find, but they are definitely still out there.
Since the word started to spread that new Peeps may be dairy cross-contaminated, I heard an internet rumor that if enough people call First Born, they will consider ditching the chocolate-covered Peeps. Here’s the number: 1-888-645-3453 or write to them at
Just Born, Inc.
1300 Stefko Boulevard
Bethlehem PA 18017