PHILADELPHIA — Two weeks before Easter, the production lines for Peeps have stopped due to the coronavirus outbreak. But don’t expect a shortage on store shelves if you’re looking to celebrate the holiday at home.
A hefty supply of the popular marshmallow candies has already shipped to retailers from their factories in Bethlehem, Pa., and Philadelphia, according to Just Born, the family-owned confectionery company that makes Peeps, as well as Mike and Ike, Hot Tamales, Teenee Beanee jelly beans, and Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews.
Just Born suspended production on Wednesday and will do so at least through April 7, the company said in a statement.
The news is the latest indicator that the coronavirus, and measures to slow its spread, will continue to disrupt the normal way of life through the April 12 Easter holiday, and likely even longer. This is in sharp contrast to the words of President Donald Trump, who says he wants to see the country “raring to go” by Easter, with churches packed. Health experts say that could be a disastrous idea.
In Philadelphia at least, churches will be empty. Earlier this week, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia canceled all public Masses and services for Holy Week and Easter, a move that will affect the region’s 1.3 million Catholics and the more than 250 parishes at which they worship. The Diocese of Toledo made a similar decision for northwest Ohio’s Catholics.
For many, Easter also means family gatherings, egg hunts, and baskets full of candy. For 67 years, Peeps has been a part of that tradition. A Bethlehem city proclamation last year called the candy “an iconic symbol of Easter.” Just Born makes about 5.5 million Peeps a day.
Despite the temporary suspension in production, the company said they will continue to pay their employees, who are working remotely.