Today is Easter, a Christian holy day marking the resurrection of Jesus. A renewal of life is a major Easter theme, and the springtime holiday’s traditional imagery is filled with symbols of new life, such as flowers, eggs, newborn chicks and rabbits. In America, popular Easter confections come in the shape of these symbols – chocolate eggs, egg-shaped jellybeans, chocolate bunnies and marshmallow Peeps.
Peeps – capitalized because it is a brand name – are bright yellow chicks made of marshmallow fluff. Peeps also come other shapes and colors, but the yellow chick is the classic Peep.
Earlier this spring, I purchased some Peeps on a trip to America, and brought them back to my Tokyo office as omiyage. By coincidence, a coworker brought in some Hiyoko the same day. Hiyoko are a chick-shaped confection that are locally famous in Fukuoka. They consist of a thin, soft pastry skin over sweet filling made with bean flour.
Hiyoko are nice, but they haven’t had the pop-cultural impact in Japan that Peeps have had in America.
Microwaving Peeps to watch them explode is a popular activity for Americans in their teens and 20s, and there are countless YouTube videos of Peeps popping. But in the video below, a microwaved Peep gets its revenge:
Peeps are so well known in America that the movie “Latter Days” was able to use them as a kind of psychological shorthand:
One young American woman loves Peeps so much that she has created her own style of makeup in homage to them:
And if you need further convincing of the importance of Peeps, a documentary has been made about them:
The best Peep video I have seen so far is a trailer for a horror film starring Tom Arnold. You can watch it here.
While Peeps may be endlessly fun to play with, what about eating them? Having bitten into both a Peep and a Hiyoko, I have to say that the Japanese chick goes nicely with a cup of tea. I don’t think the Peep really would go well with anything.