Good Peeps

March 31, 2020

The maker of Peeps gives employees a nice Easter present.

I have to confess: I never got Peeps.

To me they’re nothing but marshmallows with a college education (to repurpose a Mark Twain joke). I had always considered them a barely edible form of Easter basket decoration – something you brushed aside to get to the chocolate eggs.

Apparently that’s how most people think of them – as Easter basket accessories, not (necessarily) as “barely edible.” Peeps are among the most heavily seasonal of nationally distributed products, with most of their sales coming around Easter.

Which brings us to how Just Born, the Bethlehem, Pa.-based maker of Peeps, figures into the coronavirus drama. As we have seen so far, food processing in general has been designated a vital function, exempt from bans on congregating workers. Most food processors are maintaining, and in many cases increasing, their production schedules, to fill the surging demand for retail food products.

But because of the heavy seasonality of its unique flagship product, Just Born is in a different position. It had already produced and shipped enough Peeps to fill Easter orders before the full weight of the virus crisis hit. So it responded by closing its factories by March 25 for cleaning, with a target reopening of April 7 – and with all personnel to remain on the payroll.

Now that is generous. Maybe I’ll have to rethink my antipathy to those resilient little chicks.