Star-Bulletin Features

Wednesday, April 11, 2001

Easter is a heavenly holiday for someone of Jerry
Stanfield's Peeps persuasion.

Jeepers creepers,
gotta have my

A photographer goes hog wild
over the squishy, sweet treats

By Eleanor Nakama-Mitsunaga
Special to the Star-Bulletin

He's a mild-mannered guy, a longtime commercial photographer who now spends his days as a video producer and legislative aid. But something happens to Jerry Stanfield this time of year.

Bunny ears consume his thoughts, Easter displays fill him with an unexplainable joy, and oh, those chicks -- soft and squishy, sweet and colorful, like clouds of sugar.

Stanfield goes hog wild for Marshmallow Peeps.

No Easter holiday is complete without them, but Stanfield's passion goes beyond than. He can't explain his love for the sugary staple, only that he always saw Peeps as a kind of thrill to look forward to at Easter. The craving seems even more far-fetched as he has sworn off all other candies throughout the year.

"Friends of mine got word that I liked Peeps," Stanfield says. "They would freeze packages of them and give it to me for my birthday, which is in September." One Easter, a good friend made Stanfield a dream basket complete with skewered Peeps chicks and bunnies.

Stanfield is not alone. An estimated 600 million Peeps are sold during the Easter season. The exact Peeps formula is a long-held trade secret, but this much is known: One Peep only packs 32 calories and no fat.

Peeps have been an Easter tradition since 1953 when candy maker Samuel Born of Just Born candies acquired Rodda Candy Co. of Lancaster, Pa. Born perfected Rodda's marshmallow products and devised a mechanized way of producing them in large quantities. In 1953 it took 27 hours to produce one Marshmallow Peep by hand; today it takes about six minutes.

The original Peep was the yellow and white chick. Pink, lavender and blue chicks and bunnies hatched in later years. Peeps are now available in various shapes and colors for Halloween, Christmas and Valentine's.

Stanfield insists there's a method to eating Peeps. "You just don't stick it in your mouth and eat the whole thing." It needs to be savored piece by piece, section by section. The bunny technique is obvious. Nibble the ears, then bite into the head. If you bite the head just right, you can form new, shorter ears, Stanfield instructs.

Frozen Peeps involve a bit more patience. They have to be nuked first. Stanfield suggests microwaving on high for only eight to 12 seconds. The Peep will expand to at least four times its size before your eyes. Wait a couple of seconds for it to implode on itself and cool down. Then gobble it up before it turns into something resembling sugary Styrofoam.

Although Stanfield is forthright about his addiction, many aren't. A friend of Stanfield's, who will remain nameless, said she couldn't come forward with her Peeps affection. "She went back into the closet, so to speak," Stanfield says. She couldn't risk her husband finding out about her secret yearning.

Another acquaintance admitted to liking Marshmallow Peeps, but then the floodgates opened and he confessed that he really was just a marshmallow fiend. Peeps only served to feed his addiction during the Easter season. His real weakness is Lucky Charms.

If you are a closet Peep fanatic, follow Stanfield's lead. Don't let the guilt immobilize you. Indulge in every color and shape, and feel free to freeze some for the next six months. Trust me, no one will make a peep.

Online: The Peeps Web site:

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