Traci Gaddis found the toy in the rubble post-Hurricane Michael.
A beaten up, muddied, but still-in-one-piece stuffed Peep.
Gaddis and her family love the things.
Not just the familiar marshmallow-and-confectioner’s-sugar-creations so popular during Easter season, but the stuffed “dolls?” which bear the name and friendly visage.
The Gaddis family is hooked.
Back in the days this newspaper held a Peeps diorama contest each Easter, Gaddis, her children and grandchildren entered, and won several times.
Gaddis bestowed on each of her grandchildren stuffed Peeps as gifts; Gaddis had a large stuffed Peep.
Can’t emphasize this enough; the family are Peeps devotees.
And in the storm that was Hurricane Michael all their Peeps, along with so many other articles, were washed away.
Gone, out of their life.
Until Gaddis found this battered Peep in the rubble of her home.
“It was just all messed up,” Gaddis said. “I just held it up and thought it was just so hurricane.”
She posted a photo on social media and inquired as far up the ladder as possible of the company that makes Peeps about the Peep Mobile.
Gaddis knew the company had one but didn’t know if it was mobile, like the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile.
Come to find out the Peep Mobile is largely a prop and not mobile, but Gaddis was encouraged to place a call directly to the company’s main corporate offices.
She left a message.
Somebody from corporate returned the call.
Gaddis explained why she was calling; coming upon the Peep in the rubble, inquiring about the Peep Mobile, etc.
But the person on the other line was soon fascinated by Gaddis’ memories of Michael and Gaddis spent time telling her families story of surviving one of the worst storms the country has ever experienced.
About the storm surge, the winds, sheltering, barely, in the family’s warehouse, the fear of the grandchildren.
The parties hung up after a time, Gaddis figuring that was the end of that.
But, corporate called again, verifying the correct number of Gaddis’ grandchildren, address and the like and said they would like to replace the lost Peeps.
“It was really sweet of them,” Gaddis said.
And late last week, a box arrived with one larger stuffed Peep, that one being for Gaddis, and eight smaller stuffed Peeps for each of her grandchildren.
“They are so cute in the box I didn’t know that I want to open it,” Gaddis said, adding she hasn’t given her grandchildren their Peeps.
“They didn’t have to do that. I wasn’t looking for them to do anything. They were very, very sweet.”