When the apocalypse comes, there will only be two things left on this Earth: Keith Richards and Peeps.

The surest sign of spring is neither the calendar nor the weather: it’s the reappearance of those little sugar-coated marshmallow treats that we all know and either love or loathe. Peeps are the stuff of candy and cultural legend now. There are literally billions of them produced, eaten and/or used in dioramas every year.

There is a PeepsMobile, a converted Volkswagen Beetle with a giant yellow Peep on top, and PeepResearch.org, an entire website devoted to researching what happens to the candies when you mess with them.

This research began two decades ago at Emory University, and its contributions to human knowledge have been incalculable.

Peeps can withstand water, liquid nitrogen, acetone and a range of other chemicals… for a while, anyway.

Heat, not so much. The sweetest way to test this is to drop one in a mug of hot chocolate…

Peeps put in a vacuum will expand! And when the air returns, they sort of fold back in on themselves.

The question of how this candy goes from a spring phenomenon into something that’s on sale for like a quarter at the grocery store the day after Easter requires further research.

Amazingly, the annual Peeps Fest put on by the Just Born company is not held in spring but in December. But there are numerous Peeps-related events now getting underway, including the 10th Annual International Peeps Art Exhibition now open at the Racine Art Museum in Racine, Wisconsin.

This year’s Peeps-inspired art includes a giant pirate ship run entirely by yellow Peep bunnies, Mount Peepmore, which is exactly what it sounds like – and, amazingly, a diorama that recreates, in Peeps, that moment when a Banksy painting sold at auction and was remotely shredded.

The sticky, sugary history of Peeps (Vox)

Emory pair unlocks the mystery of Peeps (Emory University)

RAM 10th Annual International PEEPS Art Exhibition (Racine Art Museum)

Peep diorama photo by NASA/Paul E. Alers via Flickr/Creative Commons