Entry for Historic Milwaukee Inc.'s Peeps diorama contest

Scenes from Milwaukee’s History Rendered in Peeps

Historic Milwaukee is harnessing the adorable power of Peeps to inspire interest in Milwaukee’s history through their second annual Peeps diorama competition.

Easter’s just around the corner, and, Christian or not, we all know what that means: chocolate eggs and bunny-shaped candy colonizing rows at the supermarket, and of course, Peeps. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you have to agree that they’re remarkably versatile; they can simply be eaten, blown up in microwaves to sate the curiosity of eleven-year-olds and now…used to make dioramas of Milwaukee’s history?

Historic Milwaukee Inc. started their annual Peeps diorama competition last year, jumping on the Peeps diorama bandwagon that has attracted the likes of the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune and The Seattle Times. Historic Milwaukee’s Executive Director Stacy Swadish had her own ulterior motives for starting the competition.

Entry for Historic Milwaukee Inc.'s Peeps diorama contest
Assassination attempt on Teddy Roosevelt, in 1912. Photo courtesy of Historic Milwaukee Inc.

“Full disclosure – I love Peeps,” Swadish said. “I think they’re hilarious.”

Even if you hate the taste of Peeps, like the 700+ people who like the cleverly named “I Hate Marshmallow Peeps” Facebook page, you can still participate in the Historic Milwaukee competition. All you have to do is recreate a scene from Milwaukee’s history, using Peeps of course, and submit a title, pictures and a description of the diorama on Historic Milwaukee’s website. Entries are due by April 7, and winners receive gift certificates to Historic Milwaukee’s gift shop.

To set your own diorama apart, depict an interesting part of Milwaukee’s history, Swadish recommends. We’d advise against depicting Prohibition; Milwaukeeans prefer not to be reminded that beer was once forbidden.

Joking aside, through the diorama competition, Historic Milwaukee hopes to get people interested in Milwaukee’s rich and complex history.

“Inspiring interest in Milwaukee’s history is our mission,” Swadish said. “And if we can do that through yummy, crunchy, delicious Peeps, that’s wonderful.”

Entry for Historic Milwaukee Inc.'s Peeps diorama contest
Photo courtesy of Historic Milwaukee Inc.

Winning last year was an epic rendition of the civil rights movement’s “March on Milwaukee.” Following close behind was the Pabst Mansion’s recreation of Teddy Roosevelt’s visit to the historic site, and an adorable diorama of Peeps visiting the Mitchell Park Domes. Also submitted was an eerily relevant depiction of Wisconsin’s ban on Oleo margarine in the 20th century, called “Crimes Against Butter,” that brings to mind Wisconsin’s recent ban of an Irish butter.

Don’t worry about wasting food by dressing Peeps up in historic costumes; you’re not alone. One-third of all purchased Peeps aren’t eaten and are instead used for crafts or diorama projects. And we can’t think of a better way to use the marshmallow birds and bunnies than to celebrate Milwaukee’s history.



Since interning for the magazine in spring of 2017, Anna has contributed to both the print publication and website. She has covered topics from women in the workplace to communal gardens and also writes guides to life in Milwaukee. Outside of writing for the magazine, Anna is going back to school at UW-Milwaukee to work towards a career in genetic counseling.