August 29 – Peeps Factory (Just Born), Bethlehem, PA (ONP # 241)

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Only in the Peeps factory could you overhear a conversation that begins “On the marshmallow floor, conveyor belt 4…” Apparently, some vendors there wanted candy. We all want candy.

It’s all sunshine and candy from the moment you turn into the parking lot of “Just Born” (the company who manufactures Peeps, named after the last name of its owner, “Born”). There’s a giant Peep greeting you at the entrance, a sunny yellow Peeps-mobile parked out front, and Peeps on every possible sign,from parking to doors.  

The lobby (which is typically off limits to tourists) cranks up the sweet cravings even more, with Peep plushie toys, Peep restroom signs (boy Peeps and girl Peeps!), and walls decorated with giant replicas of Peeps and Just Born’s other, less famous candy “Mike and Ike.”

Even the architectural columns have giant candy displays set inside them, stuffed with diverse rainbow Peeps, peering at you through the plastic.

The real hero of today’s One New Place, though, was definitely the receptionist. When I drove here (a fifteen minute detour from my appointment in Bethlehem today) I was expecting only to explore the outside of the building, since Just Born’s website explicitly said “no tours.” When I saw the friendly Peep-painted doors marked “Guest Entrance,” though, I thought “I’m a guest; I’ll just see…” I walked into an enclosed entrance area, where a receptionist sat behind a booth. Beyond the interior glass doors, I could see the colorful candy-themed lobby and desperately wanted in. So I explained my mission to the receptionist and asked if I could just go in and take pictures of the lobby.  She said “You just want to take pictures of the lobby?”  “Yes,” I said. And she let me in!  And then, as thanked her and said “good-bye,” she handed me a small, white plastic bag: “Here this is for you.” Inside?  You guessed it. Candy!