2012 Peeps Diorama Contest

Apr 02, 2012

After six years, our annual Peeps Diorama Contest has become a survey of all that touches and taunts our collective consciousness, an anthology of absurd, artistic triumphs displayed through malleable marshmallow rabbits and chicks.

We crowned "OccuPeeps D.C." our winner, but among the hundreds of other entries were many more masterpieces. And Peeps Contest czarina Katherine Boyle took your questions on the judging process, comments on the results, and collective squee of Peeps delight.

Photos: Peeps Show VI -- this year's winners

Photos: Political Peeps

Photos: Peeps in D.C.

Poll: The 2012 Peeple's Choice

Video: The five finalists, up close

Full coverage: See all entries

Good morning, Peeps enthusiasts! Thanks for joining the chat. We're here to give you the behind-the-scenes scoop on the Peeps Contest and the 755 entries that we received. We're also interested in hearing about your favorites.

Was there anything different about this year's entries? Was it more predictable than in year's past? (I felt like I knew from the start that occupy would be the winning entry theme).

We also had a feeling that Occupy would dominate, but there were so many unexpected entries. The Colosseum was a huge surprise. 'Gladiator' came out years ago! We were also pretty surprised by the number of Royal Wedding dioramas we received, since the wedding was almost a year ago. But typically, news dominates in the contest.

The Black Cat entry should have won! Those clothes are cuter than half the stuff in my closet.

Agreed on the clothes. We loved the tiny details-- particularly the shout out to 'Portlandia' on the Peep wearing the bird dress. Very clever outfit choices.

Last year the finalists went on display at the ArtiSphere in Rosslyn. Will they be back this year?

Yes, they'll be on display at Artomatic 2012, Crystal City's free arts festival, which begins May 18.  Visit  artomatic.org for the details.

Many fantastic entries as per usual, but my one burning question: Did the Black Peep creators get tickets to the Black Cat? They deserve them. That diorama was genius.

That's a great question. We haven't heard, but there's a lot of people out there who'd sign that petition. Those two are committed Black Cat fans.

The scope of the peeps entry with the stadium and lions was amazing - shouldn't that get extra points?

There were a lot of Peepius Maximus lovers in the newsroom, myself included. The creator was a finalist a few years back, as well. I can assure you that he had a lot of vocal supporters.

How important is it to have an architecture/engineering degree to win the contest?

The entrants span the spectrum. Some submissions come from professional design firms and don't make the cut, while others-- like the Royal Wedding 'Just Peep'd' diorama-- are made by mother-daughter teams. We don't look at credentials when judging. It's all  based on what we see in the photos.

Meme Peeps -- so cute and clever! I guess it's dangerous though; by now, that meme is a little stale. But that entry made me laugh out loud.

We said the same thing to the creators. When the submission came in it was so timely, but what's great about that meme is that it's so self-explanatory. Even without knowledge of the meme, it's still such a great concept for Peeps. And beautifully executed by 'The Peeps Dream Team.''

Who agrees that Peeps are best stale? Mmmm - that crunchiness is amazing!

A lot of diorama builders think it's easier to work with stale Peeps. I personally prefer to eat fresh Peeps. Something about a fresh Peep seems... healthier, maybe?

In past year's contests there have always been finalists (Creating a Masterpeep & Split Peep Soup are some of my favorites) and even a winner (The Tomb of King Peepankhamun) that have used original, non-news related, non-pop culture related themes for their dioramas. This was lacking in this year's final picks. How much does theme play into the judges liking of a diorama? My husband and I love participating in this contest! It is our only artistic outlet of the year (http://www.flickr.com/photos/78034228@N04/)

Split Peep Soup is a cult favorite here. There are some ideas that really transcend news and pop culture references, and that was one of them. The theme plays an important part, but in the end, we're also judging execution. This year's finalists were so well-executed it was hard to ignore them. And Peepius Maximus, to our knowledge, wasn't based on any pop culture theme-- the creator really just wanted a reason to build a lion.

Some of the political ones are, uh, a little controversial. Are Peeps entrants DemoPeeps or RePeeplicans?

We don't ask for political affiliation, but it seems we have a good mix of DemoPeeps and RePeeplicans submit dioramas each year.

Will you be highlighting any of the entries done by kids like you did last year in the Kids Post? My kids have a blast creating something every year.

Here, a gallery of KidsPost's picks for the best entries from young artists: Kid-created Peeps

Yes, it was in Sunday's Paper. Click on the link to view the slide show. We LOVE seeing entries done by kids.

We've starting talking about a phenomenon called The Peep Syndrome - its when you can't stop looking at situations or events without considering how they'd work in a peeps display. What do you all at WP see as likely 2013 peeps entries?

Inauguration Peeps! And maybe the London OlymPeeps?

Ha, that's a great question. I didn't realize it was a diagnosed syndrome yet. I'm sure we'll be seeing some Olympics-themed Peeps and more election-themed dioramas next year. But who knows what will happen in a year?

Was there any question about giving the top prize to something that played "Occupy D.C." straight? Was there any discussion regarding the divisiveness of the topic?

Well, we had a silent ballot and the vote was very close. There was some debate about the signs. Some people here wondered why there weren't more puns,  so it was really interesting to hear that she wanted to keep everything very realistic.

I have seen the actual submissions in past years at the Post HQ and at the Artsphere in Arlington. I noticed that some of the semi-finalists might bump up to being finalists or even the winner if they were graded in person. Why do you grade the contest by only viewing photos instead of narrowing the list to around 25 and then viewing each one of these up close?

It's true that the photos matter so much. I wish we could see them all up close. Unfortunately, there's no way for us to have 40 semi-finalists in the newsroom-- especially if they all end up being the size of Peepius Maximus!

A number of other newspapers run peeps contests - have you ever considered having run off contests among different news paper contests - a Peeps version of March Madness? Peeps Pandemonium?

That would be so much fun. But I'll say it here: we think our readers produce the best Peeps dioramas in the country, so it might be an unfair contest.

I loved the winning entry but the winner is a professional artist. The other entrants are not professional artists. That doesn't seem like a level playing field.

In truth, professionals do have an advantage. But I'll say that a lot of professionals didn't make the cut this year. We try to be unbiased and keep it as fair as possible. And I will say the vote was EXTREMELY close. We had five great finalists this year.

I don't have a question, just a comment. I was thinking a good name for the contest would be a take on Sweepstakes...."The Peepstakes".

It's amazing how many words rhyme with 'Peep.' Shocking, really.

How do people get their entries to the Post? Is there a little parade of peep entrants wandering around the building with their creations?

We only have the finalists come to the building. But even having five in the building causes a stir. It's not easy to move fragile, edible art around the building, trust us.

Have you ever gone to the PEEP SHOW at the Carroll County Arts Council in Westminster Maryland ? It is wonderful April 5-15 this year. Www.carrollcountyartscouncil.org. Or call 410-848-7272

I haven't, but thanks for letting us know.

One year the Peepes Contest semifinalists were on display in the WaPo Building and open to the public. Why don't you do that every year? Viewing the dioramas was great fun. You could charge a small admission and give the money to a charity that promotes art education in DC.

Artomatic does a fantastic job of displaying the Peeps dioramas, so we're leaving it to them this year. Of course, we always want to make sure the public has a chance to view them.

what trend or popular subject matter surprised you? Occupy DC and the Royal Wedding were predictable but did you get multiple entries for a topic that you did not expect?

There were a good number of "Hunger Peeps" entries. I think it predicted the film craze.

Would you all be willing to consider a category for under 18? I require my Art History high schoolers to create a Peeps diorama with an Art Historical theme and it'd be great if they thought they had more of a chance to win.

We're always open to new ideas. We've only featured kid-created peeps in KidsPost for the last two years, so we'll think about it. And it's terrific that you incorporate peeps in your class!

Is anyone else having trouble with the galleries? The galleries, eg political peeps, won't download for me, and I've tried several times. No pictures, just a black screen. :-(

You likely need to update your Flash player. You can also try a different browser. 

Your contest has the expected WP LIBERAL bias! I think the Coliseum project--Peeipius Maximus--should have won. There was a lot of good 3D construction effort going into that one. Plus it survived a barbarian Cat attack!

Well, I can't speak to bias because the vote was EXTREMELY close. And the Brits held their own, too. Read into it what you want. Kate Middleton for president 2016?

the range of peeps topics is amazing - but was there any topic you thought you would see this year that didn't come in?

To my knowledge (and maybe I just missed it) we've never had a Post Hunt-themed entry.  Which always surprises me.

You know, I really think our readers are on top of every trend and topic out there. We're always more surprised by the moments people pick in history or the pieces of art people choose to recreate. I do think we're going to see more memes in the coming years though.

I have no artistic talent and must rely on others to entertain me with their Peeps creations. Thanks for many a good laugh this year, guys.

We say it every year, but we're always amazed by the talent.

How many people actually judge the Peeps' entries?

Great question. Kids Post Editor Tracy Grant and myself go through the entries and choose semi-finalists. Then a group of Style and Magazine editors and reporters debate the merits of each entry. They vote on five finalists. This year, we opened up the vote to the entire newsroom. Over 200 people voted for the winner.

That is all :)

We do too. I can't tell you how humbling it is to see so many great dioramas come in every year. Washingtonians are a very creative bunch.

In This Chat
Katherine Boyle
Katherine Boyle is a reporter for The Washington Post and helped manage this year's Peeps Diorama Contest.
2012 Peeps Diorama Contest
The Washington Post Peeps Diorama Contest is an annual competition that requires creativity, craftiness, marshmallow dexterity and a certain tolerance of puns. The contest has drawn thousands of entries since its launch in 2007.
Recent Chats
  • Next: