The PEEPle of Reston, in Glorious Peeps Dioramas

I’ve got to applaud the person who first came up with the idea of a Peeps diorama. It’s genius. To use Peeps in ridiculous arts and crafts projects is a huge improvement over the original use of Peeps. As I understand it, you were originally supposed to eat them.

The Just Born candy factory makes one billion Peeps each year, so apparently lots of people do eat these colorful marshmallow Easter treats. I use the word “marshmallow” lightly, though, since marshmallows are made of sugar, while Peeps are made of something mysterious that won’t dissolve in boiling water or even sulfuric acid. They’re cute, though. Peeps have many useful purposes, too — for example, they are handy if you’re looking for something to explode in the microwave or ignite in a flaming bucket of charcoal. And now, thanks to this growing Easter tradition, you can also glue them to cardboard boxes to create comical little scenes. It makes perfect sense, if you ask me.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press is credited as the first newspaper to hold a Peeps diorama contest, and The Washington Post helped to popularize this idea with its annual Peeps Show, which is now in its 9th year. If you haven’t seen this contest before, I recommend you check out this year’s entries and vote for the Peeple’s Choice. I look forward to seeing all the hilarious creations every year. The amount of detail that goes into these dioramas is fascinating, and the results are wacky fun.


The Peeps of Lake Anne Plaza on a summer day, created by Doris Tyler of Chesapeake Chocolates in Reston

Reston’s Peeps Diorama Contest

It’s too late to enter The Washington Post’s contest for 2015, but there’s still time to enter Reston’s Peeps Diorama Contest. Chesapeake Chocolates is inviting people to use Peeps chicks and bunnies to recreate their favorite Reston scene. Entries will be on display in their store at Lake Anne Plaza until April 4, 2015, and one entry will be chosen by a panel of judges to win a basket of goodies from Chesapeake Chocolates.


Doris Tyler, the owner of Chesapeake Chocolates, has created a diorama of Lake Anne Plaza, complete with a paddleboarding bunny, a Bronze Bob statue, remote-controlled sailboats, and a summer concert. It is currently on display in the Chesapeake Chocolates shop.


Reston Farmers Market Peeps, created by Fran Lovaas

A diorama of the Reston Farmers Market is also currently on display at Chesapeake Chocolates. It was created by Fran Lovaas, one of Market Masters of the weekly summer market.


I asked Doris and Fran for some tips about how to make a Peeps diorama, based on their experience with making them the past couple years. Did they learn anything that they could share with aspiring Peep artisans? Here are some of their thoughts.


Tips for Making a Peeps Diorama

1. Use a cardboard box with sturdy sides. Doris recommends lidded, decorative boxes that she bought at Michael’s. Fran recommends opening the front wall of the box for a better view of the diorama.

2. Use a hot glue gun to attach the decorative bits.

3. If you need extra support to attach the Peeps, use toothpicks to hold them up. Peeps can be sticky and hard to work with.

4. Stale peeps are easier to work with than fresh ones. Leave them out to dry for several days before attaching them to the diorama. An added bonus, according to Fran, is that stale Peeps might also deter spouses and grandkids from eating your art supplies. Hypothetically speaking, of course.


5. If you need to bend or cut a Peep to change its shape, use a fresh one instead of a stale one. For example, when Doris made the Bronze Bob statue, she cut the ears off the bunny, and used them as legs. Using a soft Peep made this process easier.

6. Paint the Peeps if the pastels aren’t working for you.

7. Cover the back and sides of the diorama with photographs or drawings. Or paint the backgrounds, if you’re really artistic.

8. The little details make the whole diorama. Doris taught herself how to make tiny origami sailboats, and she painted miniature flower pots to look like concrete. Fran used stickers, jelly beans, and clay to create the produce, flowers, and meats sold at the market.


I particularly loved seeing the Peeps version of each of the diorama creators, Fran and her husband John (above) and Doris in her kerchief (below).


I like to think the chick below is the Peep version of me, except I’d be more likely to choose Sauvignon Blanc.


Do you think you could create the next great Peeps diorama? Build it and bring it to Chesapeake Chocolates! You might even win a basket of goodies. But more importantly, the world needs more Peep art. Assemble your favorite Reston-themed scene and show us what you’ve got.

If I had the time, I’d totally diorama up Kalypso’s Peepaoke Night, with bunnies singing “The Girl from Peepanema,” “Peeptown Funk,” and Radiohead’s “I’m a Peep.” It’s the spirit of Easter, after all.

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