How long should you age Marshmallow Peeps?

I recently confessed that I am a big fan of Marshmallow Peeps, those chick-shaped confections of gelatin and sugar that appear around Easter (and now at Halloween and Christmas as well). I of course received considerable opprobrium from readers for this, with several people saying that if I hated candy corn (which I do), I should hate Peeps, too. Sorry, but this is a subjective matter. Peeps are like marshmallows with a slight resistance, while candy corn is like perfume-flavored Crayolas.

I was pleased, though, to see that, like me, Washington Post staff writer Maura Judkis not only loves Peeps, but also likes them slightly stale: opened to the air so they dry out a bit and attain a slight crispiness on the outside. Her job was to field a panel of people to age Peeps for different periods to suss out the best aging period. You can read her article below:

The SCIENTIFIC conclusion?

Peeps that have been dry-aged for one day are still soft on the inside, with a pleasing contrast of a slightly dry exterior. Tasted in conjunction with fresh-out-of-the-bag Peeps, our panel unanimously agreed: One-day Peeps are the best. “I never appreciated how soft Peeps are until now,” one taster said, marveling at the cloudlike texture of the new Peeps. Though fresh Peeps have their own appeal — “a lover’s caress” is how one taster described their pillowy texture — they were too soft. They had “less substance,” a taster said. A little bit of age can make them more complex and full-bodied, with notes of caramelized sugar and a strong bouquet on the nose.

One day of aging is “the sweet spot,” another taster said, and everyone agreed. Just as wine can “die” when it ages too long, so too can Peeps. So crack open a bag and let them breathe — but not for too long.

From now on, I open the box fully, as these people did (I usually just slit the cellophane) and age them for one day.

30 Comments

  1. Grania Spingies
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Peak Science!

    Can humanity aim any higher?

    :p

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    I thought maybe they would be like Twinkies, no expiration date.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted April 22, 2019 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      There was a long series of jokes on an archaeology discussion group about the use of “Twinkies” (some sort of USian confection – edibility disputed in a sub-thread) as “base of excavation markers”, in the same way that Flinders-Petrie was in the habit of scattering small change from the year of his excavation into the bottom of the trench. Any subsequent re-excavation would know that above the clearly labelled coins etc was soil disturbed not before the date of manufacture.
      But if “Twinkies” don’t actually have a manufacture/ best before date indicated clearly on the wrapper – then they’re actually completely useless.
      And I’m puzzled by the whole thread.
      Even if TwinkieCorp seriously believed their product had no “best before” date, they’d have to have some way of tracing this Twinkie to that production plant & line & batch. Surely?
      The whole thing just bemused those of us who’ve never seen a “Twinkie”.

  3. Serendipitydawg
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    As long as you don’t start rating them as “a good vintage, from the south side of the factory” everything will be just fine (though perhaps you could try the benefits of decanting them… it always works well for claret).

    😀 😀 😀

    I still have a grudging respect for anyone who can consume that much sugar and still function; my wife gave me a hand made caramel egg (one of the four I gave to her to celebrate the zombie apocolypse) and the resulting sugar rush made my head spin.

  4. Alex K.
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    I sir, will grab a bag of Peeps on sale after Easter at the grocery store and try this technique before they all run out.

    • Posted April 21, 2019 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      For me, that is when they are at their absolute best!

    • Posted April 21, 2019 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      I’ve never been a fan of Peeps, but perhaps because I’ve only had them fresh.

      Tomorrow I also will pick some up and give them the proper aging.

      For Science!

  5. John Dentinger
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    I’m giving them away to customers today, but it’s amazing how many are on diets, and pass up these culinary delights. Sad.

  6. Michael Fisher
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    When Peeps are not good eating:

    chair

  7. Christopher
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    If ever they make a vegetarian-friendly Peep, I shall eat them again. Same for candy corn. These sweets are my childhood, and I feel no shame for enjoying them. My vegetarianism may have taken them from my palate, but nothing can remove them from my heart!

  8. Steve Pollard
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Truly, we are two civilisations separated by a mere stretch of water!

    I had genuinely never heard of Peeps before Jerry’s post of the other day. I don’t think we have them in the UK. They look horrible, but what do I know?

    What do we have at Easter that you don’t? Do you have hot-cross buns: https://www.bbc.com/food/recipes/hotcrossbuns_397 ? Now they’re really nice!

    • Derek Freyberg
      Posted April 21, 2019 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      There are Peeps that don’t look like chicks, though I expect that the original Peeps were chicks, ‘cos of the name. We have rabbits for Easter, ghosts for Halloween, and I’m sure there are some I’ve forgotten.
      At least here in Northern California, we can get hot cross buns, though to my taste (conditioned by being young in New Zealand in the 1950s and 60s) they’re not very good.

      • Simon Hayward
        Posted April 21, 2019 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

        I saw something labeled “hot cross buns” in the supermarket yesterday. But they were covered in powdered sugar (an unnatural addition) and certainly didn’t look authentic. I’ve never had a good one in the US that wasn’t hand made by an expat. My wife was working with yeast and flour earlier and the smell from the oven suggests good things coming.

        The other thing we’ve missed for over 20 years is proper Easter eggs. However we’ve both been in the UK in the last couple of weeks, so she invested a small fortune in a Thorntons egg (and I spent four quid on a KitKat one in retaliation).

        Buns now out of the oven, so heading for the butter and burned fingers. The cat heard the word butter so she’s heading the same way.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted April 21, 2019 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

          Delia would have a heart attack! I’ve seen the ‘x’ made of icing & I’ve seen sugar powdered on top like it was a doughnut – brushing with a sugar/water [or honey/water] glaze straight after the oven is the trad & best way to go. Eat while hot.

          How were your home mades?

          • Simon Hayward
            Posted April 21, 2019 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

            Poor Delia! Yup, simple sugar/water glaze. They were great, if I could post a picture I would. There will be plenty left to freeze and toast. But straight out of the oven is best.

            The cat refused a bun but accepted a smidgen of butter.

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted April 22, 2019 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

              Does the cat think that you’re confusing it’s name with “Butter”?

    • Christopher
      Posted April 21, 2019 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      If you would like to try them, I would be happy to send you some. It’s the least I can do. I have gained so much from the U.K.’s culinary masterpieces, be it Twiglets, Marmite, Weetabix, Samuel Smith ales and lagers, Quorn… and I say this non-ironically. I enjoy British foodstuff!

      And no, I’ve never had hot cross buns, excepting learning to play the song on a recorder.

  9. BJ
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Now we’re asking the tough questions! 2020 Presidential race? Please. How long should one age Peeps? That’s the kind of difficult discussion we need to have.

    But seriously, please don’t be made when I tell you this…I don’t like Peeps. I’m sorry. My dad loves them, so I buy several boxes for him every year.

  10. Posted April 21, 2019 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Like you, I’ve been doing this for years, and I think that two days is the minimum and maybe four the max. I used the same standard when, as a kid in the ’40s and early ’50s, I could consume boxes of Campfire marshmallows–the ones that came in a two-layered box and were somewhat square in shape. Long gone, but not forgotten.

  11. Lee
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    If this isn’t a cult classic, it should be:

    🙂

    • BJ
      Posted April 21, 2019 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

      That was definitely not what I was expecting.

    • Posted April 22, 2019 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      Well done!

    • Andrea Kenner
      Posted April 25, 2019 at 5:49 am | Permalink

      I haven’t LOL’ed so hard in a LONG time!

  12. Jon Mummaw
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    Apparently Peeps are indestructible so there may be no upper limit for aging. “Emory pair unlocks the mystery of Peeps,” Emory Report. Emory University. 1999-03-29.

  13. chrism
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    Hot cross buns are easy to make – I did a batch on Sunday and they didn’t last long! Looks like you can make Peeps at home too, according to the delectable Claire:

  14. Posted April 22, 2019 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Jerry’s own version of the famous Marshmallow Test, also known as the “Chicago Marshmallow Experiment”.

  15. Posted April 22, 2019 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    The amount of radioactive decay will tell you when they’re appropriately crunchy. K-Ar and a 15-count box of sour watermelon chicks.

  16. Laurance
    Posted April 22, 2019 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    Now, how long is a day? 24 hours? Or more like 12 hours, like from 7 AM to maybe 7 PM?

  17. Andrea Kenner
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    If I tried to age my Peeps overnight, they wouldn’t be there in the morning… My cat Java would have eaten them!


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