The ‘Father of Peeps’ marshmallow candy dies at 98

Ira “Bob” Born, a candy company executive known as the “Father of Peeps” for pioneering the way the chick-shaped candies are made, has died, Just Born Quality Confections announced on Monday.

He was 98.

Born, who died Sunday, was the son of Just Born’s founder, Sam Born, joining the Pennsylvania-based company after he left the Navy following World War II.

“He was an inventor whose amazing intellect allowed him to see solutions to almost any situation,” Just Born said in a press release.

“Most notable was his ability to see how Peeps, which were made by hand, could be produced in a mechanical manner. Bob designed the machine that deposits the Peeps Marshmallow Chicks, and his machine was in use for well over 50 years. Bob’s design became the basis for the current marshmallow depositing systems.”

In 1953, Just Born, which also makes Mike and Ike and Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, acquired Rodda Candy Company, which made jelly beans, but also created shaped marshmallow candies by hand that took nearly 26 hours to make, according to Lehigh Valley News.

Born and an engineer built a machine to make the marshmallows quicker, churning out the candies in under six minutes. While there were some modifications over the years, the company continued to use one resembling the one Born developed.

“There was nobody doing that kind of thing,” Ross Born, who served as the CEO of the company, told the Lehigh Valley News. “You couldn’t buy a machine like that. So he built it.”

Born was hardly a one-trick pony, either, as he also developed Hot Tamales “by finding a creative way to rework Mike and Ike candies,” the company said in its press release.

“Bob will be remembered as a tireless and passionate advocate for the candy industry and a wonderful supporter of our community. Bob was our second-generation family member whose dedication was instrumental in Just Born reaching our 100-year milestone. We extend our deepest sympathy to his son, Ross, and the entire family,” said David Shaffer, board chair and co-CEO of Just Born.

“The candy business was kind of catchy … it was interesting to him,” Ross Born told the Lehigh Valley News. “He enjoyed the science, the technology, the processing. He was very much into the equipment.”

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