Bob Born, son of a Jewish Russian immigrant candy maker, became known as the “Father of Peeps” in 1954 when he invented a machine to make the marshmallow candy. Born’s machine took a production time of 27 hours to produce a chick (including hand piping the marshmallow) down to six minutes of automated production time.
And on Wednesday afternoon at the Peeps Diorama Contest awards ceremony, Bedford eight-year-old Riley Levetin became known as “Peeple’s Choice award winner” for an Amusement Park themed Peeps diorama that took Riley “many days” to create.
The Peeps Diorama Contest is in its 13th year at the Bedford Free Public Library. This is the eighth year that Pam Aghababian, Teen Services Librarian, has been in charge of running the program.
The contest requires team or individual submissions to feature Peeps “prominently” in dioramas no larger than 18 inches wide by 18 inches deep. Entries were on display at the library, and library patrons had a week to cast votes that would determine the award for “Peeple’s Choice” (receiving the most votes) as well as “First in Class” for each age category (kindergarten to fifth grade, 6-12 grade, adult and family).
Aghababian organized and invited the public to a fun and festive Awards ceremony celebration in the Library Meeting room. Aghababian is “so excited to be back and holding events in person” for the first time since 2019. The dioramas were displayed on tables lining the perimeter of the room. The festive party also included a large peeps decorated cake, snacks and beverages, and Peeps-themed activities and was attended by kids at every school level and by adults.
Aghababian is “thrilled by what the community does every year” turning in such creative entries. As ever, this year’s 31 dioramas were very creative – displaying Peeps playing sports, shopping, touring Paris, modeling on a catwalk, driving vehicles, eating at a restaurant, sleeping, and swimming. Peeps were making a difference in the world through messaging and composting. And Peeps were paying homage to popular books, TV shows, and a video game.
Ben Campbell and Alex Mandell, who hang out at the library almost every day right after school with their friends to complete their homework “before shifting out of school mode” teamed up to make a diorama that would make Bob Born proud. Their diorama (which took the team “about an hour and a half” to make “right before the contest deadline”) was titled “How to Make Sparkly Wild Berry Peeps.” The scene depicted blue and pink Peeps pieces moving along a conveyor belt and evolving into a whole purple Peeps bunny. With a crew of middle school classmates around them (also working on homework in the library) the pair won an award for the “Most Scientific” creation.
The creativity of each diorama was deserving of an award, and as such at the awards ceremony, Aghababian presented every participant with an awards certificate and a Peeps lollypop. The winners of the “First In Class” and “Peeple’s Choice” awards (determined by tabulating votes collected through last week) also received Bedford Farms gift cards at the ceremony.
Mother and son Jennifer and James Harrison enjoyed some well-earned celebratory cake after the presentation of awards. Jennifer Harrison took home the “Adult First in Class” award for “The Last of Peeps,” a spoof of the TV series “The Last of Us” (the show that allegedly takes place “10 miles west of Boston.”) The diorama included very realistic looking mountains (made of Styrofoam Harrison had in her trash), clouds of cotton, and a skillfully painted river and fir trees.
Eight-year-old James Harrison also worked recycled materials into his rendition of the movie Titanic, including smoke stacks on the sinking ship parts (designed after a Titanic model he has and “just by knowing what it looks like”) made of many detailed layers of cardboard, rowboats full of Peeps as well as a Kate Peep on a cardboard raft staring down at a Leo Peep in the tissue paper water (with added texture to look like waves), and a Peep watching the entire scene from behind a cardboard TV (which James said was inspired by a Lego Masters build.)
Siblings Rhiannon and Nathan (ages nine and six) teamed up to earn a “Family First in Class” diorama that was inspired by receiving a Wii game system for Christmas. The kids were walking out of the library weeks ago brainstorming after seeing the poster for the contest and Nathan quickly suggested “How about Peep Kart?” Rhiannon said that it took “three or four days of hard work” to finish the Mario Kart themed race car track diorama, with many clever details Nintendo fans would recognize that featured Peeps not as the drivers, but as the Karts themselves! The kids used “mostly things from around the house.”
Levetin, The Peeple’s choice award winner, admitted she needed to head to the craft store for some of her work. When asked about the inspiration for her diorama, “Peeptastic Amusement Park,” the second grader shrugged and said, “I just really love amusement parks!” Riley’s creation included a Ferris wheel, roller coaster (that used a hot glue gun on the craft stick struts and a heat gun “to heat up straws to make them curve”), a merry-go-round, ticket booth (with dollar bills and coins), a rock wall for Peeps to climb, a snack booth (with a pile of tiny burgers, popcorn, and drinks Levetin made from modelling clay) and more. Riley’s parents thought she already is thinking about ideas for next year’s contest.
According to their social media account, the library is also looking ahead to next year. Thanks to the planning of the library staff, the 13th annual Peeps Diorama Contest was a fun fantastic show of creativity, ingenuity, and community. As the celebration was slowing down, the crew of middle school students that use the library politely told Aghababian “Thank you! This was fun!”
Pictures of this year’s entries, as well as some previous years’ dioramas, can be found on the library website: https://www.bedfordlibrary.net/teens/peeps-diorama-contest/