What's *Really* in Peeps? Hint: It's Not Just Marshmallow
While this year's Easter celebrations will look different for many families, one thing you don't have to social distance yourself from? Easter candy—in moderation, of course.
We're all about balancing out your healthy Easter menu with a bit of indulgence, and have dark chocolate bunnies at the ready to enjoy on Sunday. (In case your Easter dinner is downsized, we've got you covered!) That being said, we like to keep an eye on the nutrition panel of foods we put in our bodies and noticed an interesting lineup on the ingredients list for one of America's favorites: Marshmallow Peeps.
Per serving of 4 bunnies or 5 chicks, these festive marshmallows contain 140 calories, 34 grams of carbs, 30 grams of added sugar (the equivalent of almost 8 teaspoons) and 1 gram of protein. As you might guess, their first couple ingredients are sugar and corn syrup, then gelatin joins the party to help them score their s'mores-ready texture.
All of the other ingredients are in tiny amounts less than 0.5 percent of the final product, and include yellow #5 (tartrazine, a common food dye generally recognized as safe, or GRAS, by the FDA), potassium sorbate (a preservative), "natural flavors" and carnauba wax.
Carnauba wax, AKA Brazil wax or ceara wax, is extracted from carnauba trees in Brazil. In 1996, when it was deemed GRAS by the FDA. Since, carnauba wax has been prized for its high melting point (185° F) and pretty sheen. It is frequently used as a food-grade polish—including in another Easter basket fave, jelly beans—and as a polish for pills, a hardener in printing ink, a thickener in oils and a wax for shoes, cars and airplanes.
But don't fear the fact that the same ingredient exists in your car cleaner and a few Easter basket snacks. Carnauba wax has been proven to be effective at increasing shine and lifespan of many produce picks, like apples as well, and has been found to nearly quadruple the lifespan of eggplant. (Talk about a food waste win!)
So no need to shelf the Peeps if they're one of your most-treasured treats. As long as you don't eat a whole mountain full of them, you should be more than safe: The government has tested them thoroughly and have found no ill effects up to the equivalent of a 150-pound person eating 6.6 pounds of carnauba wax-coated fruit per day. That would be a lot of Peeps.