Sad news for marshmallow artists.
2017 has been a rough year for the news media. It’s been much maligned by the President of the United States who even went so far as to declare such groups to be “the enemy of the people.” Now, possibly the worst revelation yet: After 10 years, The Washington Post has announced the paper is ending its Easter-themed Peeps diorama contest, sometimes wittily referred to as The Peep Show. Talk about a publication failing!
For those unfamiliar with the contest, since 2007, The Washington Post had encouraged readers (or anyone really) to create a diorama made out of the infamous Just Born-produced marshmallow Easter candies that “portrays a famous occurrence or scene: a historical event, a current event, piece of high art or expression of pop culture.” Photos were submitted. Winners were selected. Even prize money was awarded. (A $500 American Express gift card was the top prize last year!) Then the best entries were published for everyone to see. The contest regularly garnered interest from outside the Post itself: We shared the winners in 2014 and wrote about one of last year’s entries, a Peep tribute to the musical Hamilton.
But in a blog post published yesterday, The Washington Post Magazine Deputy Editor David Rowell confirmed the rumors that had already been making the rounds on social media: The Peep contest was being killed off. “For 10 years The Washington Post featured a Peeps contest, in which people from all over created dioramas depicting scenes that reflected the country as they saw it, but populated with marshmallow bunnies and chicks,” wrote Rowell. “Hard journalism this was not, but for us the contest offered its own sweet rewards. As fewer submissions began to come in, though, echoing the decline in readership of this feature, we knew that it was time to let bunnies be free again, and we have ended the Peeps contest run.”
Without any publically-available hard evidence of the features decline, we’ll have to take The Post’s word for it, but the timing seems a bit suspicious: Bowing out just as Donald Trump has put the news media front and center. Last year’s winner, “A Peep Inside (Out) Donald J. Trump” depicted Peeps running the inner-workings of the then-presidential candidate’s head. Maybe the paper just couldn’t deal with the prospect of looking at hundreds of similar Trump-inspired entries this year?
One commenter on the Post’s blog entry even had a valid theory for the decline in submissions. “The quality of the applicants is so high that the rest of us don't [bother] to submit our peep dioramas,” the comment suggested. So many the success of the Peep Show was its own undoing?
Regardless of the reasons behind its downfall, the sad truth is that The Peep Show is no more… at least at The Washington Post. According to a tweet from Liz Garrigan, editor of the DC alt-weekly Washington City Paper, “If @washingtonpost is abdicating Peep duty, @wcp will carry this important journalistic mantle.” Someone’s got to keep this tradition alive. I mean, what are people supposed to do with all those extra Peeps? Eat them?