Just hatched: A new store devoted to Peeps

They're the chirp heard round the world. Peeps, those little sugar-dusted marshmallow treats shaped like chicks and bunnies, now have their own store. Peeps & Company opened Thursday at National Harbor, a development on the Potomac River near Washington, DC.

Lots of people find Peeps boring, but because their true fans can be an obsessive set, the shop exists not so much to furnish them with marshmallow puffs -- any drugstore can do that for 99 cents, although the shop has those, too -- but to satisfy collectors' demand by selling 850 different Peeps items.

That includes not just the variety of sugary candies, which change shape and color as the calendar moves through the year (including pumpkins of Halloween and stars for the Fourth of July), but also plenty of fan goodies such as Lenoxware dishes (from $50 a piece), clothing (sweatshirts, $60) and toys.

In the universe of passionate consumption, sugary snacks take the cake. You won't find any shops devoted to Gulden's Mustard, A1 Steak Sauce, Oscar Mayer wieners, or any other savory products that can be found in most American pantries. There's something so addictive about the sweet stuff, though, that manufacturers are able to parlay affection for a product that costs mere pennies into a full-on collecting mania worth millions in licensing fees. That's the power of sugar. Glucose sells.

Among the candy brands with high-end, big stand-alone stores of their own are Hershey's, M&Ms, Coca-Cola, and Ghirardelli. In Vienna, there's even a shop dedicated to Manner wafers on Stephansplatz, in the spiritual heart of the city.

Peeps were actually just named one of WalletPop's favorite seasonal products that we wish were sold year-round. What were the other 13, and which of your favorites made the list? Check out our photo feature.
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