Photo by Theo Tate
Actor Whit Reichert, portraying Benjamin Franklin, reads the proclamation of the Prairie Farms Peeps Milk Day Feb. 22 at the Prairie Farms plant in Granite City. The Peeps Chick, Paige Zimmerman and Prairie Farms director of technical services Rob Lagerlof look on.
GRANITE CITY — For more than 40 years, Whit Reichert has been a popular actor in the St. Louis area.
Reichert has appeared in more than 150 stage productions, performed locally at the Muny, the Repertory Theatre in St. Louis, the St. Louis Actors Studio and Insight Theatre and toured the country and performed in numerous theaters such as the Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, Galveston Island Outdoor Musicals and the Great Lakes Festival Theatre in Cleveland.
On Feb. 22, Reichert made an appearance at the Prairie Farms Dairy plant at 1800 Adams. Dressing up as Benjamin Franklin, Reichert read the proclamation on the return of Prairie Farms Peeps Milk.
“Hear ye, hear ye, citizens and visitors to our great city,” Reichert announced to the crowd. “Let it be known to all persons here gathered that today marks Prairie Farms Peeps Milk Day.”
Peeps Milk was popular around the country last year with three flavors, Chocolate Marshmallow, Marshmallow and Egg Nog. This year, the product added two new flavors, Strawberry Crème and Orange Crème.
“We’re really excited,” said Emily Hereford, public relations program manager of Prairie Farms. “This was a really great opportunity to share with the world that we have two more flavors of Peeps Milk. Last year, it was such a hit that we were able to bring it back coast to coast, so it’s not only available regionally, but it’s available nationwide this year, so that was really exciting.”
The new flavors of Prairie Farms Peeps Milk were created by Rob Lagerlof and Rebecca Leinenbach. Lagerlof is the director of technical services and Leinenbach is the marketing director.
“It was incredibly popular and it really took the country by storm,” Lagerlof said. “We’ve got a lot of national media, so we brought back two other flavors to help distribute the word of Peeps.”
For almost 70 years, Prairie Farms — headquartered in Carlinville — has been one of the top dairy leaders in the country with 5,700 employees, 35 manufacturing plants and 100 distribution facilities. It was founded as the Producers Creamery in Carlinville before it changed to its current name in 1962. Five years later, Prairie Farms bought a dairy plant in Granite City and all of the products – including Peeps Milk – come out of the Granite City plant.
Peeps are marshmallow candies that are shaped into chicks, bunnies and other animals and are made from sugar, corn syrup and gelatin. Peeps is headquartered in Bethlehem, Pa., where it was founded in the early 1950s, and it is produced by candy manufacturer Just Born.
A year ago, Prairie Farms won the International Dairy Foods Association Innovations Award for its introduction of Peeps Milk in the ingredient/flavoring/seasoning category. The company competed with 21 finalists in five categories at the International Dairy Show in Chicago.
The Peeps mascot, known as the Peeps Chick, also attended the proclamation Feb. 22.
“They flew in on a jet this morning from Pennsylvania just for this,” said Bob Kmetz, general manager of Prairie Farms.
Four members of the Granite City High School Marching Warriors also were in attendance — Logan Cole, Skylar Burns, Jillian Jenners and Jacob Cowley.
Prairie Farms is hosting a reci-PEEP contest that started Feb. 22 and ends March 27. Consumers are invited to upload a recipe and photo featuring at least one Prairie Farms product and their favorite Peeps marshmallow. Every week, 50 submissions will be randomly selected to receive an Easter basket prize package. Through March 27, consumers can also enter daily for a chance to win $250 cash and support an Our Caps Your Cause registered food pantry or animal shelter. The food pantry and animal shelter with the most votes will receive $250 cash each.