Fluffy, bright, and fun, Peeps have been a part of Americana since 1953, when parent company Just Born Quality Confections purchased the Pennsylvania-based company The Rodda Candy Company. Manufacturing of the Peeps Brand marshmallow chicks and bunnies was relocated to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and they have been a staple of Easter baskets across the country ever since.
Each Peep takes just six minutes to produce, from raw ingredients to packaged candy. Just Born produces approximately 5.5 million Peeps per day and 2 billion annually. The most popular colored Peep is yellow. Peeps are now made in myriad flavors catering to holidays throughout the year.
I had the opportunity to sample a cross-section of Peeps, including its newest flavors. I evaluated these based on aroma, texture, taste, fun factor, and how authentically each fits its advertised flavor profile. I then ranked them from least to most favorite. Read on to see which Peep perked up my taste buds the most.
Some recommendations are based on first-hand impressions of promotional materials and products provided by the manufacturer/distributor/etc.
Classic Marshmallow Bunnies
At the bottom of my ranking of Peeps are the Classic Marshmallow Bunnies. The classic variety of bunnies and chicks is available in various sized packages and colors, including yellow, pink, blue, and lavender. The ones I sampled were pink, and if I'm being honest, I felt a bit like I was betraying my childhood memories of Peeps in my Easter basket by not placing them higher on my ranking. Unfortunately, the reality of eating them as an adult versus the memory of them left me underwhelmed.
What I loved and continue to appreciate about these little bunnies and chicks is their impossibly fluffy, light texture. They are like a cloud in your mouth, melting almost instantly the moment they hit your tongue and begin to warm up. That has not changed and remains a quintessential quality of Peeps.
In terms of aroma and flavor, there was not much there. They are semi-sweet but not cloying. Most of the flavor comes from the sugar sprinkles encasing each Peep. The marshmallow itself is very mild, airy, and neutral. They are cute, but they just are not all that exciting. For that reason, I placed them at the bottom of my list.
Rainbow Pop Marshmallow Chicks
Next to last on this ranking of Peeps varieties is the Rainbow Pop Marshmallow Chicks. From an aesthetic perspective, these Peep lollipops are adorable and have a festive Spring flair. Each pop has four distinct colored chicks, yellow, green, pink, and blue, peeking their eyes from the colorful packaging like they want you to bite into them.
Like the classic Peeps, these have no distinct aroma. Their texture is similarly light and fluffy, if not just slightly firmer and chewier than the original, with a distinct crunch owing to the sugar sprinkles on the exterior. Where taste is concerned, these Peeps are perhaps slightly more flavorful and sweeter, but not by much.
Packaging aside, based strictly on every other factor, I was left wondering what the point of these Peeps was aside from being a slightly more exciting delivery method for the same confection. For that reason, they did not rank higher on my list.
Mike And Ike Flavored Pop Marshmallow Chicks
This product fuses two brands for which Just Born Quality Confections is most well known, Peeps and Mike and Ike candies. These Peeps are also packaged in lollipop delivery format with four individually flavored and colored chicks on each pop — strawberry, lemon, lime, and orange. Again, strictly speaking from the visual appeal perspective, these Peeps couldn't be cuter. Anyone would be delighted to receive one of these in their Easter basket.
If you enjoy Mike and Ike candies, you will love these Peeps. From the moment you open the packaging, the aroma is distinctively that of a box of these confections. Their texture is equally fluffy and light as classic Peeps, with a slightly crunchy candy coating surrounding each chick in its corresponding Mike and Ike flavored sugar. These are tart, making your mouth pucker after biting into them, which is in keeping with the Mike and Ike brand.
As far as execution is concerned, these treats deliver. They live up to their flavor fusion promise. I do not happen to love Mike and Ike candies all that much and find them overly sour, which is why these landed toward the bottom of my list.
Sparkly Wild Berry Flavored Marshmallow Bunnies
The Sparkly Wild Berry Flavored Marshmallow Bunnies landed next on this ranking. Again, if packaging and visual appeal were the only determinant of where these confections land on this list of favorites, these would rank higher. Each bunny is lavender in hue with little red candy sparkles dotting the exterior. The only thing that disappointed me was that they did not have a little bow and unicorn horn like the bunny on the front of the packaging.
When I first tore open the packaging, I was ill-prepared for the shower of candy sparkles that flew out of the container and landed all over everything within a 2-foot radius. The aroma was the next notable thing. Oddly, it smells like grape bubble gum, even though the flavor profile of this Peep is supposed to be wild berry. I did not mind this as I enjoy grape bubble gum. The texture of these is identical to the original -- pillowy soft.
Similar to the aroma, its flavor is oddly more grape-like, which may be a byproduct of the combination of berries the Peep is attempting to encapsulate. These were perhaps a little sweeter than the classic, but they finished tart, lingering after sampling them. While I did not dislike these, I did not love them as much as I anticipated. I would have enjoyed a slightly more balanced flavor and less of a powdery sugar shower.
Icee Blue Raspberry Flavored Marshmallow Chicks
One of the latest additions to the Peep family is the Icee Blue Raspberry Flavored Marshmallow Chicks. These turquoise-hued chicks are available exclusively at Target. They are intended to mimic the flavor and aroma of America's original frozen treat in classic Peep delivery format.
I grew up drinking this treat and was eager to dive into these Peeps. In terms of nostalgia, these did not disappoint. Their aroma is spot on, with that slightly fake blue raspberry scent that signals you are about to drink something that will turn your tongue blue for the remainder of the day and instigate a case of brain freeze. The texture of these is soft and fluffy, as expected.
Where these Peeps fell a tiny bit short for me was in the flavor. While they taste like a blue raspberry-flavored Icee to a certain extent, they are not nearly as bold as I would like. A blue raspberry Icee clobbers you over the head with sweetness and that distinct tart aftertaste. This had some of that, but I would have preferred a bit more intensity, which is why it landed where it did on my list of favorite Peep flavors.
Fruit Punch Flavored Marshmallow Chicks
The next flavor on my list is the Fruit Punch Flavored Marshmallow Chicks. If you grew up drinking fruit punch in elementary school, these crimson-hued chicks will take you straight back to your first-grade lunch box. The aroma of these Peeps is en pointe, having that almost sickly sweet, slightly tart, and somewhat artificial fruit-flavored nose that is instantaneously recognizable. Yet again, the texture of these chicks was perfectly cottony and delightful.
As far as taste is concerned, these Peeps did not disappoint. While they were less potent than real fruit punch, that may not be bad for my grown-up sensibilities. These were pleasantly sweet but not cloying, and their aftertaste was not overly synthetic. While I thought these were well executed, they are not a favorite flavor or one I gravitate towards. I prefer more complex flavors, therefore this one landed in the middle of my list of favorites.
Sour Strawberry Flavored Marshmallow Chicks
Another of the most recent additions to the Peeps family of treats is the Sour Strawberry Flavored Marshmallow Chicks. These rosy-hued chicks are designed to appeal to those who have an affinity for sour candies with a fruity twist. They are available exclusively at the Kroger family of stores.
The aroma of these Peeps is on the exceedingly sweet side, consistent with the sour candies I used to enjoy as a kid. Their texture is in keeping with tradition, light and fluffy. When it comes to flavor, the sour is more prominent than the strawberry. While both are present, neither is particularly overwhelming, leaving a hint of tartness in your mouth but not in an unpleasant way. And, somehow, they taste less artificial than I anticipated, which is a win.
I did not rank them higher on my list because sour is not my preferred flavor profile as an adult, even though I felt these were well executed. If you enjoy sour, these will be right up your alley.
Rice Krispies Treats Flavored Marshmallow Chicks
The Rice Krispies Treats Flavored Marshmallow Chicks are the third recent addition to the Peeps family. This mash-up seemed like it would be inevitable since homemade Rice Krispies Treats are made by combining the cereal with marshmallows. I had high hopes for this Peep, which is only available at Walmart. While I was not disappointed, I also was not blown away.
At first sniff, this Peep does capture the essence of Rice Krispies Treats, slightly toasty, nutty, buttery, and sweet. In keeping with Peeps tradition, its texture is all marshmallow, which, though expected, also left me missing that distinct chewiness you get when biting into Rice Krispies Treats.
Where this Peep disappointed me most was the flavor. While I cannot put my finger on precisely what was missing, there was a notably absent component. In some ways, it was as if the essence of the cereal was lost while being dominated by the marshmallow. I did enjoy these Peeps, but they were underwhelming compared with the nostalgic flavor memory I had etched into my taste buds. For this reason, they ranked in the middle of my round-up of favorite Peeps.
Milk Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Chicks
Next on my ranking of Peeps flavors are the Milk Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Chicks. I appreciate that this flavor comes in a single-serving pack for a quick sweet treat you can enjoy anytime. Also, there is nothing wrong with covering anything in chocolate, which may make some wonder why this Peep didn't rank higher on my list of favorites.
I will chalk that up to personal preference. This Peep is encased in a hefty amount of milk chocolate. The chocolate is of decent quality, but not a superior milk chocolate. It is creamy with a good amount of snap but is also very sweet. That is not necessarily a deal breaker, as the marshmallow is neutral in the sweetness department. For my palate, it was almost cloyingly sweet, which made it almost overkill for my taste buds.
Plenty of folks who love milk chocolate will find this treat delightful. If I were to create my ideal version of this, it would be encased in dark chocolate, which would have a hint of bitterness and help to balance out the fluffy marshmallow underneath.
S'mores Flavored Delights Dipped In Milk Chocolate Marshmallow Chicks
The final flavor added to the Peep roster of treats is the S'mores Flavored Delights Dipped in Milk Chocolate Marshmallow Chicks. The inspiration behind these is the gooey, melty delight of a campfire-roasted marshmallow squished between crunchy graham crackers and milk chocolate. I again had high hopes for this Peep as I love the flavors of a S'more that is hot off the press.
The initial aroma of this Peep was promising, rife with chocolate and the honey and cinnamon flavors typical of a graham cracker. The bottom of each graham cracker-flavored marshmallow chick is dipped in decadent milk chocolate, which is visually attractive. The marshmallow is fluffy and does carry through with the graham cracker flavor well. My impression of the chocolate was that it was a bit on the cloyingly sweet side, but it was not unappealing.
Though I enjoyed this Peep, I did miss the char and smoke elements that infuse a marshmallow that has been freshly roasted over an open fire. While I am unsure how that would be captured in a confection, it was a part of the experience that was noticeably absent for me and why this treat did not rank higher than it did.
Party Cake Flavored Marshmallow Chicks
Next on our ranking of Peeps flavors are the Party Cake Flavored Marshmallow Chicks. These little cream-colored Peeps with multi-colored sugar sprinkles were surprisingly well-executed. They transported me directly to childhood birthday parties where a fancy personalized store-bought cake was displayed. These cakes have frosting with a distinctive flavor and aroma that is simultaneously sickeningly sweet and synthetic yet appealing.
When I opened the packaging of these Peeps, the aroma was like a time warp to these bygone birthday parties of childhood. The smell was eerily accurate. While the texture was light and fluffy, the colored sprinkles on these Peeps were frustrating as they flew everywhere when I opened the package and tried to take a bite out of one. The flavor carried through with the childhood sensory experience, though it was less sweet than real frosting. It did have an artificial flavoring aftertaste that was unmistakable yet oddly pleasant.
While I wouldn't say these Peeps were my favorite, they did execute on their advertised flavor and left me with a nostalgic feeling that was quite welcome. For this reason, I ranked them higher on my list, even though I wish the sugar sprinkles were less mobile when eating them.
Dr Pepper Flavored Marshmallow Chicks
While they didn't break into the top three on my ranking of Peeps, the Dr Pepper Flavored Marshmallow Chicks were a success in my book. I have an affinity for Dr Pepper, so my expectations for these Peeps were high. I was unconvinced that they could accurately capture the distinctive aroma and flavor that set this soda apart. They did.
As I tore the packaging open, I was struck by that odd combination of cola, plum, cherry, licorice, spice, nuts, and caramel that encapsulates Dr Pepper. Their texture was similarly tender, if not softer, than classic Peeps. Though less pronounced than their aroma, the flavor was equally en pointe, with a pleasant, subtle aftertaste.
The only thing missing from these treats were the bubbles. Otherwise, they were masterfully executed. I didn't rank them higher because the top three were nuanced in different ways, making them more sophisticated for my grown-up palate.
Cotton Candy Flavored Marshmallow Chicks
As we move into the top three on my ranking of Peeps flavors, we begin with the Cotton Candy Flavored Marshmallow Chicks. While one may not perceive cotton candy as a sophisticated flavor, the sensory experience evoked by these Peeps was. Cotton candy is something I associate with carnivals, fairs, and amusement parks. They were a special occasion treat I would only get when I was in a heightened state of enjoyment. These treats managed to bring me right back to those moments.
The aroma of these Peeps is spot on -- sweet, fruity, and slightly vanilla-forward with notes of berries. While the texture was quintessentially marshmallow, there was also the tacky crunch that comes with eating cotton candy. As I bit into one, it slowly melted on my tongue, disintegrating the way cotton candy seemed to disappear into seemingly thin air after biting into it. The flavor was equally convincing, if not less sweet than the real deal, which was not a deal breaker.
While I would not make a habit of eating these Peeps, the carnival ride it took my mouth and brain on was a fun reminder of childhood. For this reason, it came in third on my list of Peeps flavors, ranked.
Sour Watermelon Flavored Marshmallow Chicks
Though sour candies are no longer my favorite, I could not help but fall head over heels for the Sour Watermelon Flavored Marshmallow Chicks. From the outside, the lime green Peeps do not appear to be any different than classic ones in any notable way. That all changed when I tore the packaging open. The aroma that wafted through the air conjured memories of sucking on watermelon-flavored Jolly Ranchers as a child.
The texture of these Peeps is predictably similar to all the other flavors. Where they differ is in their two-tone color scheme. The verdant exterior is juxtaposed by a blush pink interior that makes these chicks look like the cross-section of a watermelon. To say this impressed me would be an understatement. I love that attention to detail, which gave these Peeps a leg up over others in the creativity department.
Unlike some of the other flavored Peeps, the aroma of these was not more potent than the flavor. Their taste was as bold as their scent, making them stand out above most Peeps. Overall, from beginning to end, I'd say these were as perfectly executed as possible, landing these chicks in second place on my ranking.
Strawberry Flavored Delights Dipped In Milk Chocolate Marshmallow Chicks
Best in Peep show goes to the Strawberry Flavored Delights Dipped in Milk Chocolate Marshmallow Chicks. They are available exclusively at Target. These Peeps deliver a sophisticated yet playful experience that is quite nuanced. Each strawberry-flavored chick is dipped in rich milk chocolate, giving the little pink Peeps the illusion that they are floating on a cocoa cloud.
As soon as I opened the packaging for these Peeps, I was greeted with the scent of hand-dipped chocolate-covered strawberries. The texture of these is a playful juxtaposition between the pillowy marshmallow and the snappy milk chocolate, both of which melt in your mouth as they begin to warm through. The flavor carries through with this experience of eating a chocolate-covered strawberry. Remarkably, there is no element of fakeness. It tastes like a fresh strawberry dipped in real chocolate, which makes no sense but was decadent.
The only thing that could have made these Peeps better for my palate was if the chocolate was dark rather than milk. Otherwise, I found these to be as nuanced and delicious as possible. If you have a Target near you, run, don't walk, to pick up a package of these delightful chicks.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.