The Man Behind PEEPS® An Interview With Bob Born

®Clay Glass Metal Stone Cooperative Gallery is one of the thousands of venues that host a “PEEPS®” contest every year.  The Rickie Report cannot wait to see this years’ entries.  Read this article for an exclusive interview with Bob Born the owner of the Just Born Candy Company®!




Peeps at Lake Worth Beach

Peeps at Lake Worth Beach


Clay Glass Metal Stone Cooperative Gallery



3rd Annual  Peeps Show


 March 15 – 24,  2013  


Friday March 15

Reception 6-9 PM 


Peeps are those iconic candy figures that appear every Easter.  They come in a variety of colors in forms of chicks and rabbits.  The Clay Glass Metal Stone Gallery has joined with many others around the country to present wall hangings and dioramas that feature these Peeps.  Peeps lend themselves to visual puns.  Last year, Clay Glass Metal Stone Gallery featured: The Pied Peeper, Peep Seeger, Black-eyed Peeps and Ham, Peeps on Safari along with several dozen others.  This is a popular exhibit that has drawn more than a thousand visitors to the gallery.

 Interview with Bob Born

 TRR:  Peeps®  have developed into an American icon!  What was it like growing up in a candy manufacturing business?

Bob Born:  

Probably like any other family.  We promoted over 700 assorted, packaged chocolates. Some of the companies were mail-order just for the metro New York area.

TRR: According to your website, Just Born is a family-owned candy manufacturer that has been in the business since 1923.  What other candies do you produce now?


 We make everyone’s favorite candies. Among our well known confections are:
candy bullet PEEPS® Brand Marshmallow Candies
candy bullet MIKE AND IKE® Brand Candies
candy bullet HOT TAMALES® Brand Candies
candy bullet GOLDENBERG’S® PEANUT CHEWS® Brand Candies
We employ almost 600 associates, most of whom are at our world headquarters in Bethlehem, PA. All Just Born candies are made in the USA.
In 2009, Just Born opened its first retail store, PEEPS® & Company, in National Harbor, MD. Since then, we have opened 2 more stores. One in the Mall of America in Minneapolis, MN and the other in The Outlets at Sands Bethlehem in Bethlehem, PA. You can also check out our online store at

TRR: How do you create a new confection?


BB:  Well, we wanted to get  MIKE AND IKE® going Nationally.  When you manufacture jelly candies, they have to be tumbled in a large rotating vat with a sticky sugar syrup and then more sugar, which will coat each piece. Then you screen out the pieces that have stuck together, recook them and make more candy.  We always had a mix of fruit flavors and colors.

At this point in the process, you couldn’t identify the color so our team thought we should add licorice flavor and black coloring to camoflague the product it had previously been and call them “Black Joes”.  Feeling it was politically incorrect, we came up with a different plan.

Our team added red color and some cinnamon to the mix.  When one of the tasters sampled the new confection and yelled “It’s Really Hot”, we knew we had a hit on our hands and called it “Hot Tamales®”!  It has become one of our flagship confections!


TRR:  Did you dream of growing up and continuing in the candy business with your family?

BB:  I studied as a physicist and was drafted into WWII.  I worked on aircraft research, went to the Infantry and then was taken to the Navy, as I became an electronics expert.  When I came home from Guam, I planned to go to medical school.  I asked my father for a job for 11 months until Medical school began and I ended up working at the family business for over 50 years!


TRR:  Do you have a favorite candy?

BB:  That’s like asking a parent if they have a favorite child!  Of course – they are ALL my favorites!


TRR:  Tell us more about some of the innovations you brought to the confection industry.


BB:  Well, when we started making the chicks for PEEPS®, each chick was squeezed by hand with a pastry tube.  It took 27 hours from start to finish to make a chick and have it be ready to ship.  My design team knew there had to be a better, more economical way to produce the candies.  It took us over a year of trial and error to finally mechanize the process.  Now it takes 6 minutes from start to finish!


TRR:  Obviously, your engineering background really helped!

BB:  Yes, and our company has always believed in helping our employees gain knowledge not only for the company but for themselves.  All along the way, we’ve brought in teachers to help our employees improve their skills.  Now we have regular classrooms with computer lessons, English as a second language courses, electronics, you name it.  The best thing you can give another person is an education.  You would be surprised at how many new ideas come from our employees!


TRR:  You offered night school and incentives for your employees to learn.

BB:  That is what the American Dream is all about!


TRR:  Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

BB:  I am amazed at the crazy artwork and games people come up with when it comes to our PEEPS®.  I’m constantly surprised at how many contests take place all over and I could not be more delighted!


TRR:  Let’s share some facts from 

  •  “Jimmies”, the chocolate grains sprinkled on ice cream were invented at Just Born, and named after the employee who made them.
  • Each HOT TAMALES® chewy candy has only 7 calories and 0 grams of fat.
  • GOLDENBERG’S® PEANUT CHEWS® were developed during World War I and used by the U.S. Military as a ration bar.  The high energy, high protein recipe and unique taste made it popular with the troops.
  • PEEPS® branded products have made celebrity appearances on many programs including: Good Morning America, The Today Show, CBS Sunday Morning, The Early Show, Saturday Night Live, Martha Stewart, Ellen, South Park, and The Daily Show.





Few products have achieved the iconic status of PEEPS®, the yellow, chick-shaped marshmallow confection beloved by children and adults alike. But, as popular as PEEPS® has become, it is only one of the many delicious products produced by Just Born, an 87-year-old, family-owned confectionery company based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

The Just Born candy tradition actually began in 1910 when Sam Born emigrated to the U.S. from Russia. A candy maker by trade, Born used innovative technology to produce chocolate sprinkles, known as Jimmies, and the hard chocolate coating for ice cream bars. In 1916, Born invented a machine that mechanically inserted sticks into lollipops.

In 1923, Born opened a small candy-making and retail store in Brooklyn, New York. He marketed the freshness of his line of daily-made candy with a sign that declared, “Just Born.” Not long after opening the Brooklyn store, Born invited his brothers-in-law, Irv and Jack Shaffer, to join him in the business.

The company thrived in spite of the economic depression of the 1930s and, in 1932, moved its operations to an empty printing factory in Bethlehem, PA.

The company continued to grow, aided by several key acquisitions. In 1935, Just Born acquired the prestigious Maillard Corporation, well known for elegant hand-decorated chocolates, crystallized fruits, Venetian mints, jellies and “the best bridge mix in the country.”

In 1953, Just Born acquired the Rodda Candy Company of Lancaster, PA. Although Rodda was best known for its jelly beans, it also made a small line of marshmallow products that included a popular Easter Peep that was made by laboriously hand-squeezing marshmallow through pastry tubes.

Sam Born’s son, Bob, who had joined the company in 1946, helped mechanize the marshmallow forming process and Just Born has become the world’s largest manufacturer of novelty marshmallow treats.

Other popular products have been introduced over the years; including MIKE AND IKE® chewy fruit flavored candies in 1940, spicy, cinnamon-flavored HOT TAMALES® in 1950, TEENEE BEANEE® gourmet jelly beans in 1977, and sour ZOURS® in 1999.

Under the current leadership of Co-CEO’s Ross Born and David Shaffer, Just Born acquired Goldenberg Candy Company, makers of PEANUT CHEWS® and CHEW-ETS®, in 2003. Today, Just Born products are exported to many world markets and the candy is available to more than 1.5 billion people worldwide.

We hope you visit CLAY GLASS METAL STONE Gallery 605 South Lake Avenue  Lake Worth, Florida 33460  215-205-9441 to see this exhibit!



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The Rickie Report

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