‘Father of PEEPS’ dies at 98

Ira “Bob” Born
Ira “Bob” Born –

Ira “Bob” Born  known as “the father of PEEPS” has passed away at the age of 98.  Just Born Quality Confections of Bethlehem said that Born died Jan. 29.   

“Bob will be remembered as a tireless and passionate advocate for the candy industry and a wonderful supporter of our community,” said David Shaffer, board chair and co-CEO of Just Born. “Bob was our second-generation family member whose dedication was instrumental in Just Born reaching our 100-year milestone.  We extend our deepest sympathy to his son, Ross, and the entire family.” 

He was the son of the company’s founder Sam Born and joined Just Born in 1945 after World War II where he served in the Navy.   

 He was responsible for designing the machine that deposits the PEEPS Marshmallow Chicks, and his machine was in use for well over 50 years.   

His design became the basis for the current marshmallow depositing systems. He also invented HOT TAMALES by finding a creative way to rework MIKE AND IKE candies.    

Just Born names new leadership team

Just Born Inc. announced Friday that its board of directors has unanimously named two new co-chief executive officers. 

 David N. Shaffer and Gardner “Chip” M. Jett, Jr. ,David’s son-in-law, will assume the positions effective immediately.  

The company said this decision ensures that next year, the company will celebrate its 100th anniversary under family ownership and leadership that will endure into the next century.   

As David and Ross Born did for over 40 years, Shaffer and Jett will work together with David Yale, president & COO, to ensure the company continues to be a positive force in the industry and for all stakeholders, it said in a release.  

At the same time, Shaffer’s daughter, Samantha Jett, will assume the role of vice president of corporate responsibility, working to develop initiatives that will keep family values at the heart of the business for generations to come. 


Esports get boost from Mike and Ike candy

Mike and Ike chewy candy brand, manufactured by Bethlehem-based Just Born Quality Confections, announced three esports collaborations, teaming up with Team Liquid, Esports Arena and Team Dignitas to give amateur gamers an opportunity to compete among some of the best players in North America.

In partnership with Mike and Ike, Team Liquid is starting “The Next Wave.” The Team Liquid Scouting Combine will host tournaments judged by gaming pros and content creators, giving prospective gamers a chance to win a $25,000 prize pool for top finishers and earn a spot on Team Liquid.

· Mike and Ike will be an official sponsor of Esports Arena, starting this month. A premier spot for amateur gamers, Esports Arena has 18 locations in Walmart supercenters across the country, with plans for expansion. Mike and Ike will be also support a team in the Series E competition for semi-professional gamers, a steppingstone for aspiring players to be drafted onto branded teams and compete professionally.

· Lastly, Mike and Ike is becoming the official candy partner of the Dignitas Fortnite Team, which is full of fan-favorite players including Piero “pgod” Ramirez. The collaboration is kicking off this month, bringing Fortnite fans a new “Sweet Plays” TikTok series, an “In The Mix” video series on YouTube, and the Fortnite Flavor Brawl Powered by Mike and Ike.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

United Way to honor Crayola for campaign contributions

United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley plans to honor Crayola of Easton with this year’s PPL LIVE UNITED Award.  

The award will be presented at United Way Celebration of Caring on Wednesday, April 13, to recognize the impact donors, volunteers and partners made throughout the year. 

 “The Greater Lehigh Valley came together to build a stronger community. Celebration of Caring recognizes the collective impact of United Way donors, volunteers and partners,” said United Way Campaign Chair Laurie Hackett, Air Products director of community relations and philanthropy. 

The event, which is also presented by Crayola, celebrates and honors organizations and individuals who have made a significant impact in the community in partnership with United Way. 

The PPL LIVE UNITED Award is the organization’s highest award. It is presented to an organization or company whose engagement in the Lehigh Valley community results in a significant contribution toward improving quality of life for those in need.  

Under President and Chief Executive Officer Rich Wuerthele’s leadership, Crayola contributed more than $1 million during its recent United Way campaign, representing the largest corporate gift and most employee donations in the company’s history. 

Crayola also had a 19% increase in the number of employee donors and utilized creative, innovative ways to motivate giving. 

 “The PPL LIVE UNITED Award is our organization’s highest honor, and Crayola continues to show up as one of our most dedicated partners. They exemplify what it means to ‘LIVE UNITED’ in their commitment to giving back and making a true impact in our community,” said David Lewis, president of UWGLV. 

Just Born of Bethlehem is also being honored at the event. 

It will receive the Campaign Chair’s Award, which is presented to a company that has demonstrated leadership and innovation in conducting its United Way campaign and an ability to increase awareness throughout the Lehigh Valley. 



PEEPS to become nail polish, lip gloss

PEEPS themed nail polish and eye shadow are among the products Just Born is partnering with other companies on. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –

PEEPS are jumping out of the Easter Basket and into makeup, stuffed animals and ice cream for the Easter holiday. 

Made by Bethlehem manufacturer, Just Born Inc., the PEEPS brand is partnering with Sally Hansen, ColourPop, Build-A-Bear Workshop and Cold Stone Creamery to offer PEEPS-themed products. 

According to a press release from Just Born, Sally Hansen is launching a Insta-Dri X Peeps Collection, which will feature seven nail polish shades inspired by the colors of classic marshmallow peeps. 

ColourPop will have a PEEPS Collection of lip gloss and Super Shock Shadow eye shadow product that will emulate the vibrant colors of the peeps. 

 Marshmallow lovers seeking a cuddly companion can snuggle up to a sweet friend this Spring as the PEEPS brand returns to the Build-A-Bear Workshop, where fans can stuff their own PEEPS toys. 

Cold Stone Creamery is now offering a PEEPS Marshmallow flavored ice cream and shake. 

The company has also partnered with Duncan Hines to create six new recipes featuring the marshmallow PEEPS. 


Just Born hires former Jiffy Lube exec as chief information officer

Chidi Alams –

Just Born Quality Confections of Bethlehem said it has hired Chidi Alams to the role of vice president and chief information officer.  

Alams joins Just Born from Team Car Care/Jiffy Lube, where he held the same role. 

 As a member of the Just Born executive team, Chidi will be responsible for establishing Just Born’s information technology vision and digital transformation strategy in alignment with the overall business strategy, developing the roadmap and leading all aspects of information technology and cybersecurity. 

He will provide strategic oversight for driving digitization, which will encompass business process automation and enhanced data/business intelligence capabilities. Chidi will lead the IT Team in continuing to build collaborative relationships with all stakeholders, while delivering top-notch customer service. 

“Chidi is a visionary leader who will add tremendous value to Just Born in this critical role” said Just Born Quality Confections President and COO David Yale, to whom Alams will report. 

 Alams’  IT career includes roles at Expedia, Rackspace, Concentra and Exeter Finance before taking on the role of CIO at Team Car Care/Jiffy Lube where he led IT and continuous improvement. 


Just Born launches coffee-flavored PEEPs for 2022

Just Born’s new offerings for spring 2022 include coffee flavored PEEPS. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –

Bethlehem-based Just Born has unveiled its newest line of PEEPS for 2022. 

PEEPS, which are the number one non-chocolate Easter candy, has some new offerings to fill baskets this year. 

Just Born is partnering with The Original Donut Shop, the no. 2 selling variety of coffee for the Keurig system, to come up with all new coffee flavored PEEPS. 

The new offerings will include PEEPS The Original Donut Shop Coffee Flavored Marshmallow Chicks and PEEPS Filled Delights, The Original Donut Shop Coffee Caramel Mocha Flavored Marshmallow Chicks. 

This is the first time PEEPS Filled Delights will be available nationwide.  

In addition, Just Born has given its PEEP Bunnies a makeover through the launch of unicorn-inspired PEEPS, Sparkly Wild Berry Flavored Marshmallow Bunnies. 

“The PEEPS Brand has been a part of fans’ Easter and Spring celebrations for nearly seven decades. Many parents and grandparents who received PEEPS in their Easter baskets are now passing on that tradition to their families,” said Caitlin Servian, brand manager for PEEPS. “In 2022, we’re kicking off the Spring season earlier than ever to provide fans with the perfect mix of classic Chicks and Bunnies, along with trending new flavors. There is something for family traditions throughout the season.” 

Also new this year is PEEPS Marshmallow Egg Hunt, which has individually wrapped miniature marshmallow chicks. 

Ross Born to retire as CEO of Just Born

Ross Born –

Ross Born, CEO of Bethlehem-based candymaker, Just Born Inc., has announced that he plans to retire from the company, which his grandfather, Sam Born, founded in 1923. 

Ross Born has led the company for over four decades along with his cousin and co-owner David Shaffer. 

Ross was inducted into the National Confectionery Sales Association’s Candy Hall of Fame and has served as Chairman of the National Confectioner’s Association. 

Born, 68, will work with the company’s board of directors to recruit a new CEO. A search committee has already been formed. 

In the meantime, he will continue as CEO and David Yale will remain as president and COO of the company. 

David Shaffer serves as chairman of Just Born’s board of directors. 

“This is my 44th year in the family business,” Born said. “Thanks to our Just Born associates, our brokers, customers, suppliers and community partners, it has been the experience of a lifetime. I have enjoyed the close relationship I have had with David Shaffer, my cousin and business partner for my entire professional career.  Now it’s time for me to pass the baton to a new CEO, who along with our top-notch Executive Team, will take the business to new heights.  I’m really looking forward to spending more time with my wife and family – especially our four grandchildren.  And, I will continue to focus efforts on ways to make our community a better place for everyone.” 

The family’s ownership of the company, which manufactures iconic candy brands MIKE AND IKE, HOT TAMALES, PEEPS and GOLDENBERG’S PEANUT CHEWS will continue. 

Just Born returns to regular production with Halloween PEEPS

Bethlehem’s Just Born will have sugar skull Halloween PEEPS on the shelves this year. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –

After shutting down production of its Halloween and Christmas-themed PEEPS last year to concentrate on production of its most popular line, Easter PEEPS, Just Born in Bethlehem will have the other seasonal PEEPS back on the shelves again this year. 

Matt Pye, senior vice president of sales & marketing at Just Born, said like many companies, Just Born shut down production last spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic putting the manufacturing of PEEPS behind schedule. 

Just Born will begin its foray back into seasonal PEEPs with a new sugar skull PEEP for Halloween. There will also be pumpkins, ghosts and monster PEEPS as well as Halloween packaging for its Mike & Ike, Hot Tamales and Peanut Chews candies. 

“Just Born is thrilled to return to store shelves this Fall with a lineup of spooky and sweet treats to fuel family celebrations,” Pye said. 

While the company was able to resume production in May of last year, the decision was made to concentrate on its biggest market so they could meet the demand for Easter 2021 bunnies and chicks. 

That meant they didn’t have the capacity for the other seasons. 

With no shutdown this year, things are going back to normal he said. 

“We were able to produce Halloween and Christmas for 2021 primarily because we did not have to shut our doors for six weeks like we did in 2020,” he said, 

Of course, the Bethlehem manufacturer did have to make some changes to get production back to normal. 

“Our plant associates embraced the changes made in the plant to ensure their safety, and we scheduled production to start earlier on these seasons,” Pye said. 

Just Born shares impact of $100k COVID-19 donation

Just Born’s headquarters in Bethlehem. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –

Just Born Quality Confections of Bethlehem donated $100,000 to local charities that helped at-risk communities with food, shelter and education in addition to its normal annual charitable giving, the company announced.

Half of the money went to the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund, used to strengthen safety-net services for those impacted by the pandemic. The fund, supported by 22 other corporate partners and many individual donors, focused on strengthening food access, housing, income support and mental health services.

The collaborative fund provided 65 nonprofits much-needed funding in the earliest days of the pandemic.

The remaining $50,000 was donated to a variety of additional nonprofit organizations who provided access to food, housing and education. They included:

  • The Northeast Community Center, which purchased an industrial freezer and refrigerator, increasing the amount of food they’re able to distribute by 191%.
  • The Bethlehem Branch of the Greater Valley YMCA, which served more than 50,000 free meals to children, families and seniors through its Family Emergency Meal Program.

All totaled, the $100,000 contribution provided more than a million meals to nearly 16,000 families throughout the Lehigh Valley.

“As a family-owned company that has been part of the Lehigh Valley for decades, Just Born knows it can only thrive if our community thrives as well,” said Meg Dowd, corporate affairs manager for Just Born. “It’s important for us to shine a light on the work done by local non-profits during this time. By sharing their efforts, we amplify their missions as well as the voices of those they serve.”

A-Treat, Just Born team up on new soda flavors

The creators of A-Treat soda and MIKE AND IKE candies partnered together on two new soda flavors. PHOTO/PROVIDED

Two Lehigh Valley companies worked together to create new soft drinks that debuted regionally for the Fourth of July.

The Jaindl Company, Allentown, producer of the A-Treat soda brand teamed up with Bethlehem-based Just Born Quality Confections, makers of MIKE AND IKE candies, to create two new flavors of A-Treat soda; cherry and strawberry. The new flavors will be available in 20-ounce plastic bottles this month.

“The professional and family relationship between Just Born and Jaindl goes back decades, well back to my grade school days,” said David Jaindl, the Jaindl Companies’ third generation president.   “We thought an alliance between the two classic brands like A-Treat and MIKE AND IKE is something that makes a lot of sense when you consider not only their local history, but the nostalgia associated with each.”

“At Just Born, we love to find new ways to transform our iconic candies into innovative product offerings that our fans can enjoy, which is why we’re thrilled to be joining forces with A-Treat to create two all-new MIKE AND IKE-inspired soda varieties,” said MIKE AND IKE Brand Manager Leslie McLauchlan. “Nostalgic flavors like our two fan-favorites, MIKE AND IKE cherry and strawberry, continue to gain momentum with consumers, and we are excited for fans to experience these new products that perfectly blend the familiar fruity flavors of MIKE AND IKE and classic A-Treat soda.”

There’s profit in purpose; Just Born CEO Ross Born on the importance of the mission statement

“Everything we do supports the purpose.”-Ross Born, CEO of Just Born. PHOTO/PROVIDED

“We make life sweeter.”

This simple mantra is the all-encompassing purpose behind Just Born, the Bethlehem-based manufacturer of the famous Peeps, Hot Tamales and Mike and Ike’s candies.

Because for Ross Born, CEO of Just Born, a purpose-driven organization is more likely to be a successful organization.

In Born’s opinion, when your company has a clear mission statement, and one that is bigger than just selling the widgets you manufacture, it creates something that is larger than the product. There’s a positive energy that echoes through the entire company and out to your customers.

For Born, “We make life sweeter,” relates to how the company strives to make life better for their employees, the surrounding community, and the nonprofits that they contribute to. That motivation to make life a little sweeter for all involved with the company drives Born.

“Everything that we do supports the purpose,” he says. “I must repeat that sentence, ‘We make life sweeter,’ to myself and to others seven to eight times a day. They aren’t just words. I live by it. We live by it.”

Don’t just say that your company has a higher purpose, Born advises, act on it. Be accountable to the purpose. Advertise it. Post it to your website. Make it a living, breathing, part of the company.

When your business has a higher purpose, he says, you and your employees feel a part of something that isn’t just about commerce, but a superior way of life.

And Born may be on to something big here. According to the United States Chamber of Commerce, employees at companies with a statement of higher purpose are happier, prouder of their company and have greater trust in their leaders.

Add to that a recent report by California-based management consulting firm, Korn Ferry, that showed purpose-driven consumer-products firms grew their sales 9.9 percent from 2011 to 2015, compared to only a 2.4 percent growth rate for companies without a higher mission.

Put on your happy face.

Another factor behind Just Born’s success, according to Born, is a leadership tenet for management. “Understand that people are watching you. When you are a leader in the workplace, whether a mid-level manager or a company president, you’re on stage.”

Your facial expressions, your gait, your tone of voice matters.  You set the tone for the mood of the company, he said.

Born tells a story of how he made a frequent habit of putting on his white lab coat in the mornings and walking through the factories. He would observe, touch base with those on the floor and get a feel for how things were operating.

One day, Born’s then-small children were a bit of a handful before work. Born got to the plant that morning and quickly threw on his lab coat and made a stressed walk-through of the factory.

Later that day he received more than one phone call asking him what was wrong. Employees asked if the company was in trouble. Was there going to be layoffs? The staff had just read his tense facial expression and assumed he had bad news on his mind.

“Understand who you are and the influence you have,” he says.  “Even your body language communicates to those around you.”

Ninety percent of the reaction to any message or information is through visual communication, according to the executive coach Paul Glover. So while it can be a challenge to live in the spotlight, the positive side is that you can use that influence to encourage your team.

“Take the time to center yourself when you walk on ‘stage’ every morning,” Born says. “And put on your happy face.”