This is a special year for Peeps, those marshmallow globs covered in colored sugar and pressed into the form of chicks and bunnies each Easter season.
This pop culture confection celebrates a 60th birthday this year.
Besides satisfying the sweet tooth, in recent years, Peeps can also be served up in a way to satisfy creativity cravings.
It's also become popular to use these carb-heavy cut-out treats as characters to recreate scenes and famed landscapes for artwork dioramas.
The staff at Valparaiso University's Chapel of the Resurrection are part of the fun, by hosting an annual competition each year asking for entries for display dioramas that use Peeps (either the chicks or bunnies) depicted in noted biblical scenes.
And their 4th annual Easter Peeps Show is next week.
I graduated from VU in 1992, in addition to serving as an adjunct faculty member. For the first time, I'll serve on the judging panel for the contest, along with fellow judges and VU alums Jacob Just and Emily Royer, both 2012 VU grads. Royer is the oral history researcher for the Porter County History Museum in Valparaiso.
This year, the competition is not only open to the campus community, but also anyone from The Times readership.
I met with Rev. James Wetzstein, Valparaiso University's pastor and also Chris Boshoven, the VU Chapel publications coordinator, Tuesday to get all of the details and rules:
• All characters depicted must be played by Peeps and the diorama (often framed by using the inside of an opened up, two or three sided cardboard box) must display a scene from a Bible story. It need not be big, as even a shoebox works just fine.
• There's no fee to enter and no need to register in advance.
• You are allowed to melt, mold or manipulate the Peeps bunnies and chicks in any way.
• Drop off your brilliant creation Peeps diorama to the lobby area of the VU Chapel of the Resurrection between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Easter Monday, April 1 (Yes, it just happens to be April Fools Day by chance).
• Judging will happen on Thursday afternoon, April 4, with winners announced the next day, Friday, April 5 at the Friday morning Chapel service at 11:15 a.m.
While I'm told the winner receives a title and "bragging rights in perpetuity," I'm going to up the prizes.
The good folks at Just Born, Inc., the family owned company founded in 1923 and headquartered in Bethlehem, Penn. that manufactures Peeps are supplying me with a large, brimming Peeps themed gift basket, courtesy of publicist Ellie Deardorff. And I'm going to add to the prize haul an official Peeps Maker Machine, a rare find, which will allow our winners to enjoy these sugary treats homemade throughout the year.
For any questions about the contest, contact VU's Chapel of the Resurrection at (219) 464-5093, Ex. 6. Good Luck!