Before rapper Nas turned it into an affectionate street-slang term for close friends and family, the word peeps—or rather, Peeps, with a capital "p"—referred to the iconic Easter-basket stuffer that roosted in the lush green, cellophane grass. They're still around, of course. And if we're going to show these peeps some respect, their full name is Marshmallow Peeps. Quite possibly the most confounding packaged food outside of Twinkies, Marshmallow Peeps have been made by the Just Born Candy Co. of Bethlehem, Pa., since 1953. Even if you don't care for the taste of these gritty, spongy, chick-shaped confections, they're worth studying if you're a brand manager. Over the course of nearly six decades, they've have tottered their way to legendary status without the help of celebrity spokesmen, glossy ads or pricey TV spots. By the time of their 50th anniversary in 2003, some 1.2 billion Peeps were being consumed worldwide annually. As marketers, however, the Just Born people were not just born yesterday. This Easter, the Peeps coop will get a little bigger with the addition of Chocolate Covered Peeps (both the milk and dark varieties). The cocoa chicks will "please loyal fans and entice newcomers," the company promises. Not all Peep fans will chirp about this move, however. After all, the sugar-grit feel on your tongue is an essential part of Peepdom. But gauging consumer reaction will be easy, at least. Peeps have inspired more than 155 Web sites and groups on every social-media outlet. Sorta redefines Twitter, doesn't it?
—Posted by Robert Klara