The 'Father of Peeps' Has Died. Meet the Founder Who Created the Easter Favorite.

Bob Born is known for creating the machinery to manufacture Peeps.

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By Sam Silverman

Photo by Eva HAMBACH / AFP) (Photo by EVA HAMBACH/AFP via Getty Images

Marshmallow-lovers are mourning the death of the "Father of Peeps."

Ira "Bob" Born, the second-generation owner of Pennsylvania-based candy company Just Born Quality Confections, which produces Peeps, Mike and Ike and Hot Tamales, has died at the age of 98.

The candy entrepreneur who famously designed the machinery to manufacture Peeps "passed away peacefully" on January 29, according to a statement released by Just Born.

"Bob will be remembered as a tireless and passionate advocate for the candy industry and a wonderful supporter of our community," David Shaffer, board chair and co-CEO of Just Born, said in the release.

The company used Born's original Peeps deposit machine for more than 50 years and still uses machinery based on his design. He last visited the Just Born factory in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in February 2019, where he was honored by the city with his own "Bob Born Day," which falls on the first day of the Easter season.

Who was the "Father of Peeps" Bob Born?

Bob Born was instrumental in the Just Born company's 100-year-old operation. After his father, Sam Born, opened a small candy shop in Brooklyn, New York, in 1923, the company expanded to full factory production in 1932 and relocated to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Then in 1945, Bob joined the family business after serving in the U.S. Navy and graduating from Lehigh University with a degree in engineering physics.

In the 1950s, Just Born bought a small candy brand called Rodda Candy Company, which was making marshmallow treats by hand. To improve efficiency, Bob spent a year developing the technology to "mechanize the marshmallow-forming process."

"There was nobody doing that kind of thing," Ross Born, Bob's son and former Just Born CEO, told Lehigh Valley News. "You couldn't buy a machine like that. So he built it."

His invention brought the 27 hours it took to produce a package of Peeps down to just six minutes, rightfully earning him the nickname the "Father of Peeps."

Born was also instrumental in creating the machinery for Hot Talames and Mike and Ike.

"The candy business was kind of catchy … it was interesting to him," Ross told the outlet. "He enjoyed the science, the technology, the processing, he was very much into the equipment."

Where are Peeps and the Just Born company today?

In its 100th year of business, the Just Born company is still thriving today with more than 600 employees.

According to the company's website, Peeps has been the No. 1 non-chocolate brand for Easter for more than 20 years.

Today, the Just Born Company is still a family business. After Ross stepped down as CEO in 2021, his cousin David Shaffer assumed the position of co-CEO with his son-in-law Gardner "Chip" M. Jett, Jr. in September 2022.

What is Bob Born's net worth?

It's unclear how tied Bob Born's personal fortune was to the Just Born company, which is privately held. Candy Industry, which compiles an annual list of the Top 100 candy companies, estimated its annual net sales were $231 million in 2021.

Sam Silverman

Entrepreneur Staff

Content Strategy Editor

Sam Silverman is a content strategy editor at Entrepreneur Media. She specializes in search engine optimization (SEO), and her work can be found in The US Sun, Nicki Swift, In Touch Weekly, Life & Style and Health. Her coverage spans from business and tech to entertainment news. Sam is a graduate of Lehigh University and currently resides in NYC. 

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