There's no way to sugar-coat it.
Marshmallow Peeps are celebrating a 60th birthday next year.
And there's already a reason to celebrate.
The line of sweet and soft confections, which started as Easter chicks, now have feline counterparts for Halloween.
Peeps Chocolate Flavored Mousse Cats are the latest, tasty addition, and just in time for Halloween.
While I was the guest speaker on Friday for the Golden Times General Meeting in Munster, I brought a selection of Peeps products to give away as prizes and these new chocolate cat shapes proved to be the most popular. Also available this month are tiny orange Peeps Jack-o-lantern pumpkins. And for "purists," there's also the option of spooky white marshmallow Peeps ghosts.
Even the Peeps chicks are making an appearance on store shelves this month. A new delicious variety of Peeps chicks has the birds nestled in a nest of molded chocolate at the base.
Peeps are made right here in the USA by Just Born, Inc., a privately owned company headquartered in Bethlehem, Pa., started by Sam Born.
My first story I wrote about Peeps for The Times was in 1997, when I discovered that during the 1950s, it took 27 hours to create just one marshmallow Peep because they had to be hand-squeezed through pastry tubes, dried and then given hand-painted eyes.
Today, it takes 6 minutes to make each Peep, which are born at the rate of a million Peeps per day with technology that can create 3,500 of their icing eyes per minute.
Peeps have also matured in recent years with the elimination of their wings years ago and the introduction of the lavender Peep in 1995, joining hues yellow and white — which came first — followed by pink. In 1998, blue was added, later followed by green and orange tones.
One of my favorite Times stories of all time was a cover story I wrote in 1997 about John Valiska of Highland, who made it his annual Easter-season exercise to eat as many Peeps as possible.
By the year 2000, Valiska, a track and field coach for Highland High School and a fitness instructor for Omni 41 in Schererville, boasted consuming as many as 2,000 Peeps per season, which was a time before Just Born Inc. began offering the marshmallow confection forms for other holidays, besides just once a year at Easter.
Valiska's favorite way to eat Peeps?
"I open my packages of Peeps and let them sit on my kitchen countertop for at least two days previous to when I eat them," he told me.
"I like them dry and sweet."
And long before Just Born Inc. begin making their chocolate-dipped Peeps, Valiska already had the notion.
"I like to bite their heads off and insert a chocolate Hersey's Kiss inside the neck," Valiska told me back in 1997.
"That's how they're eaten best."
One serving of Peeps (five of the little marshmallow blobs, 42 grams, constitutes one serving) contains 15 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 36 grams of sugar and one gram of protein (maybe from the eyes?).
The good news, Peeps do not contain any fat.