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Peeps maker closes factory amid coronavirus concerns

Will Easter ever be the same?
Just Born Quality Confections is shutting down operations in Philadelphia and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania amid ongoing concerns over COVID-19.
Just Born Quality Confections is shutting down operations in Philadelphia and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania amid ongoing concerns over COVID-19. Shutterstock

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/ Source: TODAY
By Aly Walansky

The coronavirus pandemic has already forced the closure of thousands of restaurants and bars across the country. But the latest food business to be affected by the ongoing health crisis is the manufacturer of a beloved holiday candy.

Just Born, the candy company that makes Peeps (among other treats), announced Tuesday that it would temporarily be suspending production at its factories in Philadelphia and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, due to the “rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation.” The statement was released with less than three weeks to go until Easter, arguably the biggest day of the year for the sugar-coated marshmallows.

How Peeps are made

April 14, 201701:12

According to the company's statement, candy production at both factories will cease on Wednesday, March 25. The company expects that its facilities will remain closed through April 7. The candy company has also closed its Peeps & Company Store in Center Valley, Pennsylvania.

Just Born has been making Peeps since 1953, after taking over the Rodda Candy Company in Lancaster. On average, 5.5 million Peeps are produced daily, yielding a total of 2 billion Peeps per year across all seasons, a representative for the brand told TODAY.

The representative added that many of the company's corporate workers have already been working remotely since March 18. Factory workers will be paid at least through April 7.

“We will take this opportunity to further clean and sanitize our production facilities, offices and corporate headquarters," the company said in a statement.

Peeps are synonymous with spring and Easter celebrations, so does this closure mean there will be a shortage of pastel marshmallows on store shelves this year?

“All of our Peeps have been produced and shipped to retailers for this upcoming Easter season," the company said, adding that Just Born makes plenty of other candies.

“We do have inventory of Mike and Ike, Hot Tamales and Goldenberg's Peanut Chews for the short term but may experience [out-of-stocks] on several individual items," the company statement continued. "We will continue to work with our retail partners to ensure that the fans of our brands can continue to enjoy them during this challenging time."

So, while there may be some shortages of other candies in the Just Born portfolio, unless marshmallows suddenly become as popular as toilet paper, there will be no scarcity of marshmallow chicks and bunnies before Easter.