For many families, an Easter basket wouldn’t be complete without this man.
Ira “Bob” Born, dubbed the “Father of Peeps” has died. He was 98.
Just Born Inc. confirmed his death, saying that he would be “remembered as a tireless and passionate advocate for the candy industry and a wonderful supporter of our community,” CNN reported
Bob Born, Father of PEEPS®, passes away at 98 years oldhttps://t.co/stMKuOH0NJ pic.twitter.com/wMjgz90Hwn— Just Born, Inc (@JustBornInc) January 31, 2023
Born was the man who mechanized the process to make marshmallow Peeps, the sugar-coated chicks, bunnies and other shapes that grace Easter baskets and help ring in other holidays, The Associated Press reported.
Born was born in New York City on Sept. 29, 1924, to a Russian immigrant father who had started Just Born Quality Confections just before his son’s arrival.
The company eventually moved from the Big Apple to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where it is still in operation.
Born went to Lehigh University, where he earned a degree in engineering and physics before he enlisted in the Navy and served as a radar specialist, eventually earning the rank of lieutenant. The Navy sent him to the University of Arizona and then the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he did graduate work in math and physics.
He also had applied and was accepted to medical school, but while waiting for classes to begin, he worked at the family business. Despite his plans to go into medicine, he enjoyed working in the candy business and stayed at Just Born.
Born’s son told the Lehigh Valley News that it was “the science, the technology, the processing” that hooked his father into the business.
But Peeps’ story doesn’t start with Just Born. It was part of another company purchased by Just Born. A jelly bean maker called Rodda Candy Co. had been making shaped marshmallow candy before it was purchased by Just Born, the AP reported.
There was just one problem — it took 27 hours to make the marshmallows.
It was a process done by hand, CNN reported.
Born knew there was a future in the product and made a machine that slashed the production time to only six minutes.
The machines Just Born uses today are based on his designs and make about 5.5 million Peeps a day or about 2 billion Peeps a year.
“Bob devoted his life to Just Born and the science and process of candy making. He was an inventor whose amazing intellect allowed him to see solutions to almost any situation,” the company said, according to The Washington Post.
Born is also credited with making another Just Born mainstay — Hot Tamales.
Born was the company’s president for more than 30 years starting in 1959. He last visited the factory in 2019, when Bethlehem proclaimed the first day of the Easter season — Feb. 15 — as “Bob Born Day.”
Born retired to Florida and was active until a few months ago, when he took a hard fall. The company said Born died peacefully on Sunday, The Washington Post reported.
Born is survived by his wife Patricia, two children, five grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, the AP reported.
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