This Easter, one billion peeps will be produced (enough to circle the globe), and will find their way into 70% of the candy-filled baskets across the country.
So, where do they all come from? Weekend TODAY anchor Dylan Dreyer went to the source — or the roost, if you will — the Just Born factory in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which has been home to Peeps since the very beginning.
Peeps came into existence 60 years ago, but the process behind the sugar chick has evolved quite a bit from its early days, when each chick was made by hand and making one took more than 24 hours.
Back then, the marshmallow mixture was squeezed out of a pastry bag by hand to form the signature Peeps shape. These days, the factory produces more than 5 million chicks every day, using "one of a kind" equipment — and lots and lots of sugar.
"We use a little bit of granulated sugar, liquid sugar, and some corn syrup, and then at the end we might add a bit more sugar," explained Mark Wright, the director of operations at the factory, as he walked Dylan through the operation.
Peeps get their signature granular texture from a systematic dusting of white sugar once the marshmallow has been aerated, Wright demonstrated, showing Dylan that a bed of white sugar is placed on the conveyor belt where the marshmallow lands to give it that sandpapery coating.
And before a Peep makes it off the line, it has to pass inspection: no crazy eyes, crooked beaks or improper peeps allowed.
As Dylan quickly observed: "Easter depends on this."