Prairiepeeps: A Sweet Easter Treat to Tweet About

To say that Susan Dietrich’s handmade Prairiepeeps are akin to the mass-produced flocks of Peeps found in stores before Easter is like comparing a beautifully roasted, free-range bird to a Chicken McNugget. These are birds of an entirely different feather.

These locally made marshmallow chicks hatched from their creator’s serendipitous craving for s’mores. Dietrich, a chef and co-founder of the Minneapolis artisanal food company Very Prairie, had successfully adapted her grandmother’s oatcake recipe to make graham crackers, which led to thoughts of that classic campfire combination. “It had been years since I had a s’more and I tried them again,” she said. “But once you stand there as a chef with a trained palate, and you taste something that doesn’t live up to it to your memory of it, it’s disappointing.”

Rejecting corn syrup-filled commercial marshmallows, Dietrich set out to make her own confections that would perfectly complement her great graham crackers and recreate the s’mores of her memory. “The recipe goes back to my son who couldn’t have artificial flavors or colors,” she recalled. Using only sugar, vanilla and gelatin for the basic form, she takes care to source mainly organic, and whenever possible, local ingredients. However, Dietrich’s focus on excellent quality means that she is willing to incorporate globally sourced items such as Valrhona chocolate from France, and organic coconuts, two prominent ingredients in her limited spring edition Prairiepeeps.

The chick-shaped treats come in two flavors: Chocolate Heirloom, which are chocolate marshmallows dusted with Valrhona cocoa powder, and Coconut Vanilla, made with vanilla beans and two kinds of extracts, then covered with toasted coconut. Dietrich emphasizes the handcrafted quality of her Prairiepeeps, which are made in small batches of two dozen at a time and hand-cut with a cookie cutter. “I poke the eyes in them myself!” she declared with a laugh. “I make these the same way for my children and my friends.”
Dietrich sounds rather surprised at the popularity of her marshmallows, admitting, “They were just thrown in to sell the graham crackers.” But she has fully embraced the attraction of this fluffy food – in addition to her Easter season Prairiepeeps, she also produces cat-shaped Boo-mallows and Ghost-mallows for Halloween, and soft little snowmen for winter holidays. During the summer, Dietrich and her partner Gary Robertson, sell the confections alongside their artisanal, grain-based foods, such as granola, pastas, and yes, graham crackers, at the Mill City Farmers’ Market, but for the rest of the year, the marshmallows are available only at Sugar Sugar, a South Minneapolis candy shop recently opened by Dietrich’s good friend, Joni Wheeler. Among the flavors offered are passion fruit, lime, cinnamon hot chocolate, and her newest, rhubarb.

But the hot chicks of the moment are Very Prairie’s Prairiepeeps, which are currently available in limited supply only at Sugar Sugar. So hurry over and catch these sweet ‘tweets’ before they fly the coop!

Sugar Sugar
3803 Grand Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN  55409
(612) 823-0261

(A website for Very Prairie is currently under construction; in the meantime, inquiries about their products can be made by e-mailing Susan Dietrich and Gary Robertson at


Tracey Paska, a student at the University of Minnesota, is pursuing a self-designed degree in food studies, which combines anthropology, history and sociology as they pertain to the foods we eat. She was born in the Philippines, but now lives in the western suburbs of Minneapolis with her husband. When she's not composing research papers, she writes about the complex, confusing and fascinating connections between food, culture, and society on her blog Tangled Noodle. She also has contributed articles to the Minnesota Women's Press and hopes to make food writing her profession.