Rich Howells

Holiday Peeps and other Just Born candies from Bethlehem won’t be available until 2021

Holiday Peeps and other Just Born candies from Bethlehem won’t be available until 2021
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Over the weekend, Just Born Quality Confections in Bethlehem revealed that its popular candies like Marshmallow Peeps, Mike and Ike, and Hot Tamales will not be available for Halloween or Christmas this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While designated as an “essential business” by the state and federal government, Just Born temporarily suspended production at its Bethlehem and Philadelphia manufacturing facilities at the end of March to “ensure the health and safety of our associates” and “help flatten the curve.” Production restarted on May 4 “in accordance with local, state, and CDC health and safety guidelines.”

“Since the end of March, we have instituted a series of changes to processes and procedures in our facilities to help optimize our associates’ health and safety. These include daily temperature checks, staggered start times, appropriate PPE, frequent hand washing, enhanced routine cleaning, and reengineered rooms, traffic flow, and production processes for 6-foot social distancing. We paid all of our associates while production was suspended and are also providing a temporary increase in pay for those plant associates who chose to return to work,” Just Born said in a May 12 press release.

Despite this, trick-or-treat bags and Christmas stockings won’t contain boxes of Mike and Ike, Hot Tamales, or the sugary Peeps that take on festive shapes like jack-o’-lanterns, ghosts, monsters, spooky cats, snowmen, gingerbread men, and Christmas trees this year, even skipping Valentine’s Day next year. However, the familiar chick and bunny-shaped Peeps are expected to hit shelves in time to fill Easter baskets in 2021.

The company’s full statement explains more:

While Peeps Marshmallow Candies, Mike and Ike, and Hot Tamales would typically be available in fun shapes and packaging sizes for the Halloween and holiday seasons, unfortunately, the seasonal varieties will not be in stores again until 2021. As you may know, due to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, we temporarily suspended production of our candy brands to ensure the health and safety of our associates. In early May, we resumed limited production after making extensive changes in our plant that ensure the safety of our associates. This situation resulted in us having to make the difficult decision to forego production of our seasonal candies for Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day in order to focus on meeting the expected overwhelming demand for Peeps for next Easter season, as well as our everyday candies.

We look forward to offering our fun seasonal shapes and packaging at all major seasons again beginning with Halloween of 2021. We appreciate your interest in Just Born’s iconic candy brands, and we look forward to being a part of seasonal traditions again next year! We have been bringing sweetness to people’s lives since 1923, and we hope to continue to do so for many years to come.

In July, Just Born received a loan through the Small Business Association Paycheck Protection Program to make up for this loss of revenue, and in August, the company committed $100,000 to local pandemic relief efforts.

“We will partner with United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley to invest $50,000 in the COVID-19 Community Response Fund, which aims to strengthen safety net services for community members who are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. We will invest an additional $50,000, utilizing a special grant process, for nonprofit organizations on the front lines providing food and housing assistance,” Just Born said in a Aug. 25 press release.

“An important part of our company culture is to act as a catalyst for positive change through grants, volunteerism, community events, and product donations. … This commitment is a small way we can help our community heal as we continue to navigate through these unprecedented times.”

According to its website, Just Born Quality Confections is a “third-generation family-owned company that has grown into the 10th largest candy company in the United States,” making iconic brands like Peeps, Mike and Ike, Hot Tamales, and Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews.

“In 1923, the founder, Sam Born, opened a small candy-making and retail store in Brooklyn, New York, where he marketed the freshness of his daily-made candy with a sign that declared ‘Just Born,'” it continued.

“Together with Born’s brothers-in-law, Irv and Jack Shaffer, the company thrived in spite of the economic depression of the 1930s and, in 1932, moved its operations to Bethlehem, PA, which is still home to their iconic candy brands. All Just Born candies are proudly made in the U.S.A.”

Photo by Benjamin Golub