Food & Beverage

How Easter became the Peeps show

“X Marks The Spot” is our bi-weekly deep dive introducing you to the people, planning and inspiration behind the most impactful brand x brand collabs in the world.This week the story of how Peeps collabed their way from seasonal lightweight to total Easter domination.


  • Define a niche and OWN it
  • Show you own it by sharing it
  • Create a collab program, and they will come

You don’t need to be a branding or retail expert to know who owns Easter these days. Any casually observant shopper at Target or Walmart, or your grocer of choice can tell you it’s Peeps.

Walk up any aisle, and you’ll find a Peeps branded or licensed product. Walk out of that aisle into the “racetrack,” and if you missed the obvious Peep purchase opportunity, there’s an end-cap for that. The net impression;

“If you haven’t got a Peep in your cart, you aren’t paying attention.”

Try finding a brown chocolate egg in this cartoon-colored landscape, and you’ll be rooting about at the back of the store just beyond the multi-packs of toilet paper. In the age of social media, traditional eggs are simply too plain to be Instagram-able, too boring to be tweeted.

T’wasn’t ever thus, however.

From 'synonymous' to dominant

The rise of Peeps to total Easter domination is a surprisingly recent phenomenon, the causes and consequences of which can help you hatch our own collab master plan.

We can all remember a time when Peeps came in one color (yellow), one package (a line of four bonded chicks in a sleeve), and one flavor (sugar x artificial).  An innocent age before the internet and social media unearthed hidden “kingdoms of fandom.” An instagram favorite, Peeps discovered they were a cultural phenomenon and started to feed the machine with new flavors, styles, and, ultimately… collabs.

Dipping their toe in the collab game in 2010 with a partnership with Rita's Italian Ice for a seasonal Peeps-branded Marshmallow Candy flavored ice cream. A Peeps x Dunkin' donut made a brief appearance in 2014, and then they partnered with Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc. to create Peeps milk in a host of flavors in 2015.

But a 2017 limited edition Peeps x Oreo collab heralded a “cambrian explosion” of new collab-driven flavors and styles—an invitation to work with Oreo company being the invitation to the collab high table at that time.

Suddenly it was cool to partner with Just Born, Inc..-owned Peeps. An ironic wink to your customers, showing that your brand knew how to have fun and not take itself too seriously.

What Peeps did next, though, was the game-changer. Not content to wait around for invitations to ever-larger brand’s parties, they jumped in to create their own.

Whereas before Peeps was a junior partner whose role in the collab was to be the butt of a light-hearted, short-lived in-joke, now, they were in demand, calling the shots.

Collabs were no longer an occasional dalliance; they became a program.

The Easter Promotional Program.

Peeps has a long-standing Easter tie up with Kellogg's

Building the program

Cut to 2023, and Peeps announces its lineup of waterfront-covering Easter partnerships with rock band swagger;

“The Iconic Easter Brand Celebrates Spring with New and Returning Partners”

The message:- “We are Easter, and the guest list for our Easter party proves it”

This year's line up was announced with Rock Band swagger

This year’s list is easily the most impressive yet. Collabs with Duncan Hines (cake mix), Kellogg Company (Cereal), Katy Perry ($59 Peeps Bunny Slides), The Vitamin Shoppe/ Body Tech (Whey Protein), Dr Pepper, Sally Hansen (Nail Polish), Build-A-Bear Workshop all taking center stage, with the PepsiCo x Peeps marshmallow flavor soda collab topping the internet-breaking bill.

Add in arts and crafts tutorials (It’s estimated that over a third of Peeps sold are used for creating crafts and dioramas), and IG live streams from Melody in the Making, Sheri Wilson, and Addie Taylor you can see that to be anybody on social at Easter, you need an invitation to Peeps’ party.

With a host of non-competing partners all dancing to the same tune, Peeps has shifted from merely being synonymous with the season to defining it.

And everyone invited gains.

Like any good society party, each of the guests benefits from the presence of the others and the increased attention they bring. Their star rises in the company they keep.

So what lessons and questions can you take from Peeps to build your own season-defining program?

  1. Determine what you can own and OWN it. Over 70% of Peeps’ annual sales are racked up in the six-week period running up to Easter. Many brands would try to even that out by building other seasonal products (which in fairness, Peeps has to some extent). But Peeps has also had the courage to triple down on what it is known for. Building a fortress around it.
  2. Share it. Become a canvas for other brands to show a side of their character. In Peeps’ case, they stand for “Easter Fun’. Nothing could be more light-hearted and uncontroversial than brightly colored marshmallow. A collab with Peeps allows any brand show off its fun side.
  3. Programs punch above their weight. Peeps is a much smaller brand than most of its partners. But its focus on defining what it stands for and in what season means it can partner with some of the biggest brands in the world. As an equal. Focus is more valuable than size.

Final Take

Collabs have built a fortress around Easter for Peeps. Creating a focused partnership program around the season, they now have their pick of partnerships.

Leveraging the profile of partners exponentially larger than themselves to strengthen their brand through advertising and attention they couldn’t dream of buying for themselves.

Each partnership becoming a force multiplier for the others. Peeps’ collab program oozes confidence. The confidence that comes from being the most popular kid in the playground. For this season, at least.

What's your party?

Want some of that kind of magic for your brand?

email and we'll show you how easy it is to get off the sidelines and into the game

Andy Heddle
Andy, heads up our business development work here at Colaboratory. Originally from England, he married a Scot and now lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two American-born daughters.