The Eating of Peeps

A yellow Peeps marshmallow chick in a chocolate egg.

Among the offerings from the Peeps people: the original yellow marshmallow chick in a chocolate egg. Just Born hide caption

itoggle caption Just Born
Classic Peeps packaging: Yellow marshmallow candy chicks in a box.

Classic Peeps packaging. Just Born hide caption

itoggle caption Just Born
Yellow Peeps in a Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket.

David Ottogalli turns Peeps into pop art. David Ottogalli/Peeps Show hide caption

itoggle caption David Ottogalli/Peeps Show

At the Just Born factory in Bethlehem, Pa., 3.8 million candy Peeps are hatched per day. A never-ending flow of pastel battalions of birdies march down the assembly line. Their marshmallow bodies get a coat of colored sugar, a pneumatic gun affixes their wax eyes, and finally they're dropped into a cardboard cradle, tucked in with cellophane, and shipped out to the world.

After that, a Peep's fate is anyone's guess. Americans eat more than 600 million Peeps and Bunnies — their Easter counterparts – per year. Globally, a billion are consumed per year.

But that's not exactly accurate; not all of them are eaten. Some become art, some become pets, and some are tortured by mad scientists trying to discover what a Peep's breaking point is.

Whether as candy or toy, Peeps hold a revered place in American culture, to the point that they're now a ritual. Part of that ritual: the eating of the Peeps.

And so, one intrepid reporter takes an unscientific survey of Peep-eaters in the nation's capital — and then visits the Peep factory itself — in search of a definitive answer to the eternal question: What's the best way to eat a Peep?