A year ago, we bought a whole bunch of Easter candy to photograph this (dare we say, brilliant?) quiz.

On a whim, we decided to leave a few of the leftover Peeps exposed to the open air on poor GPS for the Soul associate editor Kate Bratskeir's desk. We called it an experiment, but never really thought much of it.

Except then nothing happened. One week, the Peeps felt a little bit harder, but the next they'd feel a little softer. They started to collect dust, but otherwise still seemed entirely edible. Of course, with an ingredients list boasting sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, the preservative potassium sorbate, natural flavors, Red #3 and carnauba wax, we wouldn't expect too much to change.

We're far from the only ones who have noted the indestructible nature of these little chicks and bunnies. A couple of science professors from Emory University documented dunking some unlucky Peeps in liquid nitrogen, heating them up and even subjecting them to a vacuum. And the stories about Peeps dioramas, art projects and recipes are seemingly endless.

"Everyone seems to have a Peeps story," Ross Born told the AP. Born is the operator of Just Born Inc., the company in charge of hatching 5 million of the marshmallow treats a day. "And they are free and willing to talk about how they eat their Peeps, how they cure them, how they store them, how they decorate with them. And these are adults!"

Okay, Mr. Born, you're onto us. We played around quite a bit with our year-old Peeps. Here's what happened:


Old Peeps, Meet New Peeps
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Can you tell these Peeps apart? The newborn Peeps, on the right, have an overall plumper, brighter disposition -- no?

Peeps Under Pressure
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The crotchety old pair of Peeps were resistant to this little finger-squeeze, but the newborn Peeps were basically begging for it.

Birds Of A Feather, Peeps Who Grow Old Together, Stick Together
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We tried to pull these Peep pals apart, but after a year of friendship, the birds were insistent on staying together.

New Peeps Aren't As Loyal...
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Baby Peeps put up a fight, but were willing to stretch away from their partners, with a little provoking.

Old Peeps Are Brittle And Frail, New Peeps Can Take A Little Mussin'
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We smashed these two Peeps with a Tupperware lid (see below). Our dear, old Peep couldn't take the pressure and crumbled to pieces. Newborn Peep went flat, but remained intact.

2013-03-29-peepsmash.gif


Sliced And Diced
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Cutting an old Peep is similar to cutting an ice cube, but eventually little Peep will give, and you'll get a pretty clean break (Precaution: consider wearing some protective glasses if you dare try this at home, as Peep dust is sure to fly). Youthful Peeps, on the other hand, are simple to slice, but leave a sticky, marshmallow residue on the knife.

If You Can't Stand The Heat, Get Out Of The Microwave
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We nuked each Peep for 30 seconds. Year-old Peep puffed up in size and got a little crispy, but for the most part held his own. Young Peep couldn't handle the heat: He blowfished, then flattened to a burnt Peep-pancake that stuck to the plate.

Photos by Damon Dahlen, AOL

Earlier on HuffPost:

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  • Castoreum

    <strong>What it is:</strong> Extract from <a href="http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/castoreum" target="_hplink">beaver perineal glands</a> <strong>Where you'll find it:</strong> "Natural flavoring is defined by the FDA as any substance extracted, distilled or otherwise derived from 'natural' materials, such as plant or animal matter," Bradley explains. "In the case of strawberry and raspberry flavorings, some natural berry flavors may actually be enhanced by castoreum." It's also sometimes taken (intentionally) in <a href="http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-315-CASTOREUM.aspx?activeIngredientId=315&activeIngredientName=CASTOREUM" target="_hplink">supplement form</a>.

  • Ammonium Sulfate

    <strong>What it is:</strong> A salt compound <a href="http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ammonium sulfate" target="_hplink">comprised of nitrogen</a> <strong>Where you'll find it:</strong> In <a href="http://w3.uwyo.edu/~dwwilson/pamphlet.html" target="_hplink">some fertilizers </a> -- and in some breads, like the <a href="http://www.subway.com/Nutrition/Files/usProdIngredients.pdf" target="_hplink">rolls at Subway</a>. Chemicals with ammonia are typically added to neutralize a food that's too acidic, says Doyle, which can affect texture. It's safe in the amounts it is used in foods, he says, but admits it will certainly be startling to many people, who may only be familiar with it as a heavy-duty cleaner.

  • L-Cysteine

    <strong>What it is:</strong> An amino acid made from human hair or duck feathers <strong>Where you'll find it:</strong> Used as a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/24/processed-food-ingredients_n_1441700.html#s890346&title=KFCs_Chicken_Pot" target="_hplink">dough conditioner</a> in some bread products, Bradley says, which can improve the texture and feel of products, as well as prolong their shelf life. Feathers and hair are readily-available waste products that would cost more money to dispose of, says Doyle, and since both are protein, they can be digested down to amino acids.

  • Silicon Dioxide

    <strong>What it is:</strong> Also known as silica, it's most often present as <a href="http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/silicon+dioxide" target="_hplink">quartz or sand</a> <strong>Where you'll find it:</strong> Various fast food options, like <a href="http://www.wendys.com/food/pdf/us/nutrition.pdf" target="_hplink">Wendy's chili</a> and <a href="http://www.good.is/post/silicon-dioxide-and-smoke-flavor-taco-bell-s-definition-of-meat/" target="_hplink">Taco Bell's meat filling</a>. It's added to foods as an anti-caking agent, to keep them from clumping, explains Doyle.

  • Titanium Dioxide

    <strong>What it is:</strong> A chemical related to the mined metallic element <a href="http://www.rodale.com/gross-food?page=2" target="_hplink">titanium</a>, according to Rodale <strong>Where you'll find it:</strong> Sunscreen. It's a UV light absorber, says Doyle, but also works as a lightener in foods. It's often used to whiten skim milk, which, after the fat is removed, can appear slightly blue, he says. It may also be used in <a href="http://eatthis.menshealth.com/slide/3-salad-dressing" target="_hplink">salad dressings</a>, coffee creamers and frosting, according to <em>Men's Health</em>.

  • Azodicarbonamide

    <strong>What it is:</strong> A <a href="http://www.fao.org/ag/agn/jecfa-additives/specs/Monograph1/Additive-049.pdf" target="_hplink">processing</a> agent <strong>Where you'll find it:</strong> <a href="http://healthland.time.com/2011/10/27/why-lovin-the-mcrib-isnt-a-heart-smart-idea/" target="_hplink">Plastics, like yoga mats</a> and the soles of your shoes, according to <em>TIME</em>'s Healthland -- as well as <a href="http://nutrition.mcdonalds.com/getnutrition/ingredientslist.pdf" target="_hplink">hamburger buns</a>.

  • Shellac

    <strong>What it is:</strong> <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20588763_5,00.html" target="_hplink">Secretions from a bug native to Thailand</a>, Health.com reports <strong>Where you'll find it:</strong> Coating your favorite shiny sweets, like jelly beans. Look for it on ingredients lists as "confectioner's glaze."

  • Bone Char

    <strong>What it is:</strong> Charred <a href="http://www.peta.org/about/faq/Are-animal-ingredients-included-in-white-sugar.aspx" target="_hplink">cattle bones</a> <strong>Where you'll find it:</strong> While it's used less and less in foods these days, says Bradley, it was historically used to filter sugar appear to make it appear whiter and more pure. <em><strong>Clarification:</strong> Language has been added to indicate that bone char was used in the refining process, not as an additive.</em>

  • Cellulose

    <strong>What it is:</strong> <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703834804576300991196803916.html" target="_hplink">Wood pulp</a> <strong>Where you'll find it:</strong> In shredded cheese, salad dressings, chocolate milk and more, according to the <em>Wall Street Journal</em>. It's added to foods to keep them from clumping by blocking moisture, and can <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703834804576300991196803916.html" target="_hplink">thicken foods in the place of oil or flour</a>, which cost more.

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