There was a lot of trial and error – and maybe a little sneak tasting of a Peeps or two – during the three weeks it took to turn more than 6000 Peeps into a 20-foot holiday display, says Joe Baer, founder and ceo, ZenGenius (Columbus, Ohio). For starters, just how exactly do you turn marshmallows into a tree?
Designers collaborating on the project used a steel center rod and base and a welded aluminum frame that was constructed into three sections. The frame was covered in chicken wire, foam and felt before a final layer of silicone and glitter was added. Then the team, armed with hot glue guns, got to work.
Baer says designers experimented with silicone, spray adhesive and Liquid Nails Adhesive before deciding on hot glue to stick the fresh Peeps to the tree structure. “We couldn’t use silicone because of the smell,” Baer adds. “This still had to smell sweet.”
The final tree, complete with ornaments, a star topper and presents underneath, was displayed inside the Gaylord Hotel (National Harbor, Md.) at the entrance to its holiday ICE! interactive indoor wonderland. The hotel estimates more than 200,000 people come through the hotel for the event, which runs from Thanksgiving to early January. Hotel guests even found Peeps treats on their pillows during their holiday stay.
Visitors to the Peeps tree were invited to guess how many Peeps were used to the making of the display and then walk their entries to the nearby Peeps & Co. store for a chance to win prizes. “The whole goal is to drive traffic to the store and build visibility for the Peeps brand,” says Baer.
And while it took 311 hours to construct, Baer says it took just 12 hours to dismantle the tree into sections, which were then wrapped in plastic and put into storage “to test how long it will last.”
Still, Baer doesn’t expect to reuse the same tree in 2011. “I want to try to make it 30 feet,” he says.
Here, VMSD breaks down the display by the numbers:
184: Peeps on the star
20 feet: Height of tree
2025: Glue sticks used to adhere Peeps to tree structure
6000+: Total number of Peeps used on tree
5: Rolls of chicken wire that wrap the structure’s aluminum frame
15: Peeps eaten during installation
287: Classic Chicks and Pink Bunnies used as ribbon on presents
311: Hours to construct
336: Chick and Pink Bunny Peeps used for ornaments
7 feet: Diameter of the tree
11: Glue gun burns
203: Classic Chick Peeps on tree skirt
258: Chocolate Mousse Reindeer for the trunk
Retailer: Just Born Inc. (parent company of Peeps & Co.), Bethlehem, Pa. - Crystal Allen, Marvin Cooper, Victoria Hoffman, John Kerr, Ray Hayduk, Karen Simonet
Creative Direction: ZenGenius, Columbus, Ohio - Joe Baer, creative direction, visual merchandising team; Natalie Wetzel, sculptor; Dave Simon, visual team; Aby Algueseva, visual team; Michael Thomas, visual team; Cindy McCracken, store merchandising team
Photography: Richard Cadan, Fairfield, Conn.