(USA TODAY) -- Peeps have been blown up in microwaves. Destroyed in dioramas. And even stirred with vodka and O.J. into so-called Peepdrivers.
But Peeps - those sticky, icky, chick-shaped marshmallow treats common as pink, plastic grass in Easter baskets - mostly disappear each year with the Easter Bunny. Until now.
Peeps are about to become year-round, Peep-able snacks: Peeps Minis. The miniaturized treats - about 40% the size of conventional Peeps - will be sold in reclosable, stand-up bags at the nation's major retailers. Just Born, the company that makes Peeps, Mike & Ikes and Hot Tamales, on Monday, will announce plans to launch the $2.69 bags stuffed with 24 Peeps on May 1.
That's right: a world with endless Peeps.
"I challenge you to find any other food product where a full one-third of the purchases don't go to their normal, intended use: eating," jokes Brian Bachrach, senior marketing manager of innovation.
Peeps Minis come in Millennial-targeting flavors: sour watermelon, strawberry creme and chocolate creme. While the 61-year-old brand has been sold for years at other holidays like Halloween, Christmas and Valentine's Day, this is its first bid to be a full-time, year-round player on the candy aisle.
The move comes at a time virtually every candy maker has miniaturized its key brands and stuffed them into bags whose contents snack-obsessed consumers can grab by the handful. "We're making every day into a holiday," says Bachrach.
But one new products guru has her doubts about year-round Peeps. "I think that may dilute the fun and wonder," says Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation & insight at the research firm, Mintel. "Peeps mean springtime. They mean nostalgia. I think year-round Peeps would lessen the impact and harm the brand long-term."
Not at all, counters Bachrach. In fact, he says, the brand is mostly responding to constant consumer demand for Peeps year-round. There are Peeps fan clubs. Peeps constantly garner social media buzz on Twitter and Facebook - with 300,000 Facebook followers. And there are crazed Peeps fans who buy them by the carton and oh-so-slowly eat them through the seasons.
"We are supremely confident in the success of Peeps on an every day basis," says Bachrach. "For the benefit of the brand, these will be highly incremental sales."
Ultimately, Bachrach says, the every-day sales of Peeps could even top seasonal Easter sales. Because Just Born is privately held, he declined to divulge sales. But he did note that it's the 10th largest candy company in America. Sales, he said, are in the "hundreds of millions - not billions."
Meanwhile, Just Born also is increasing the year-round presence of Peeps via partnerships with Six Flags, Disney and Toys R Us.
Never mind that the critters are nutritional duds. The three main ingredients: sugar, corn syrup and gelatin. A single serving of Peeps Minis (10 mini chicks) comes with 140 calories, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 31 grams of sugar. Oh yes, and 1 gram of protein.
Precisely how does Dornblaser, the researcher, eat her Peeps? Well, she insists that doesn't eat them very often. But when she does succumb and munch a Peep or two, she concedes: "It's head first."