Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

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Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, one whole with wrapper and one split
Product typeConfectionery
OwnerThe Hershey Company
(H.B. Reese Candy Company)
CountryUnited States
IntroducedNovember 15, 1928; 90 years ago (1928-11-15)[1]
Previous ownersH. B. Reese[2]
TaglineReese's ...perfect

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are an American candy consisting of a milk, white, or dark chocolate cup filled with peanut butter, marketed by The Hershey Company. They were created by H. B. Reese, a former dairy farmer and shipping foreman for Milton S. Hershey. Reese left his job as a shipping foreman for The Hershey Company to start his own candy business.[3]

The H.B. Reese Candy Company[edit]

In 1928, The H.B. Reese Candy Company was established in the basement of Reese's home in Hershey, Pennsylvania.[4] Reese had originally worked at a Hershey dairy farm, and from the start he used Hershey Chocolate in his confections. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups were his most popular candy, and Reese eventually discontinued his other lines.[5]

H. B. Reese died on May 16, 1956, in West Palm Beach, Florida passing the company to his six sons, Robert, John, Ed, Ralph, Harry, and Charles Richard Reese.[6] On July 2, 1963, the Reese brothers merged the H.B. Reese Candy Company with the Hershey Chocolate Corporation in a tax-free stock-for-stock merger. In 2017 after 54 years of stock splits, the Reese brothers' original 666,316 shares of Hershey common stock represented 16 million Hershey shares valued at over $1.8 billion that paid annual cash dividends of $46 million.[7][8] In 1969, only 6 years after the Reese/Hershey merger, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups became The Hershey Company's top seller.[9]

The H.B. Reese Candy Company is maintained as a subsidiary of Hershey because the Reese plant workforce is not unionized, unlike the main Hershey plant. In 2012, Reese's was the best-selling candy brand in the United States with sales of $2.603 billion, and was the fourth-best-selling candy brand globally with sales of $2.679 billion—only $76 million (2.8%) of its sales were from outside the United States market. Additionally, the H.B. Reese Candy Company manufactures the Kit Kat in the United States, which had 2012 U.S. sales of $948 million.[10]

As of October 2017 in the U.S. convenience store channel, Reese’s was the largest confection brand by far: it was 62% larger than the next brand, with more households purchasing Reese’s than any other confection brand across the United States. Reese’s includes the overall top-selling confection item—the iconic Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups King Size—as well as six of the top 20 chocolate/non-chocolate items. Additionally, the Reese’s brand accounts for over 47% of all seasonal sales within the U.S. convenience store channel, including the top two items in the largest four commercial seasons: Valentine's, Easter, Halloween, & Christmas. As a comparison, the next largest brand accounts for only 10% of seasonal sales.[11]


A trio of different sized cups. Starting from the left: mini, regular and big cup.

Hershey's produces "limited editions" of the candy that have included:[12]

  • Big Cups: an oversized version of the traditional cup (also available in white chocolate, with peanuts, mixed nuts, and with a combination of nuts and caramel, and most recently, with Reese's Pieces inside).
  • Big Cups with Reese's Pieces: This version of the Big Cup contains Reese's Pieces, mixed in the peanut butter filling.
  • Caramel: the traditional cup with an added layer of caramel filling.
  • Chocolate Lovers: a thicker chocolate cup with a thinner layer of peanut butter.
  • Crunchy Cookie Cup: a layered cup with crushed chocolate cookies and peanut butter filling (discontinued in 1999, but was brought back in 2008 as a limited edition. In 2017, Reese's announced a relaunch of a new version.[13])
  • Crunchy: a traditional cup with crunchy peanut butter, as opposed to the smooth peanut butter in the original.
  • Dark Chocolate: peanut butter filling in a dark chocolate cup.
  • Double Chocolate: chocolate fudge filling instead of peanut butter. Limited edition.
  • Double Crunch: a traditional cup with peanut filling similar to a Snickers bar, released in the fourth-quarter of 2010.
  • Fudge: a thicker, darker chocolate cup with peanut butter filling.
  • Half-Pound Cup: a single cup weighing 226 g; released in Canada in 2011.
  • Hazelnut Cream: hazelnut cream instead of the standard peanut butter filling.
  • Honey Roasted: a traditional cup substituting honey roasted peanut butter.
  • Inside Out: chocolate filling in a peanut butter cup (a reversal of the traditional version).
  • Marshmallow: the traditional cup with an added layer of marshmallow filling.
  • Miniatures: bite-size versions available year-round in bags. These chocolates come wrapped in black paper and gold foil.
  • Minis: Unwrapped Mini Cups.
  • Peanut Butter & Banana Creme: a layered cup with a top chocolate layer, bottom banana creme layer, and peanut butter filling; released in tribute to Elvis Presley. It was available in standard, Big Cups and Miniatures sizes.
  • Peanut Butter Lovers: a layered cup with top peanut butter layer, thin chocolate layer and peanut butter filling.
  • White Chocolate: peanut butter filling in a white chocolate cup.
  • "World's Largest": World's largest cups weighing in at 8 oz each.[14]

Other Reese's products[edit]

Other candy products of the Reese's division of Hershey include:

In September 2007, Hershey's began producing a new Reese's bar called Reese's Whipps. Featuring peanut butter-flavored nougat with a chocolate coating, it has been likened to a peanut butter-flavored 3 Musketeers candy bar owned by Mars, Incorporated.[15]

Hershey also produces several "pantry" items under the Reese's brand, such as Reese's peanut butter chips (analogous to chocolate chips for baking), Reese's premier baking pieces (tiny cup-shaped pieces of chocolate filled with peanut-butter, also for baking), Reese's jarred peanut butter, and Reese's toppings (including peanut butter syrup, peanut butter and chocolate topping, and Reese's Magic Shell) and sprinkles for ice cream.

For the July 2008 release of the Batman feature film The Dark Knight, Reese's released two limited time products: blue and black Reese's Pieces with Batman's likeness on the packaging,[16] and Reese's peanut butter-filled chocolate Batman logos which were sold individually and roughly the size of two Reese's cups combined.[17][18]

The fact that Reese Sticks digressed from the normal Reese's naming pattern was pointed out by Paul Lukas in his zine Beer Frame.[19] As Lukas noted, even though the official name was Reese Sticks, most people he casually surveyed pronounced it unknowingly as Reese's Sticks. In 2009, Hershey's changed the name officially to Reese's Sticks.

Holiday editions[edit]

During the seasons when retailers offer holiday-themed candies, Reese's Peanut Butter candies are available in various shapes that still offer the standard confection theme of the traditional Reese's cup (peanut butter contained in a chocolate shell). They are sold in a 6-pack packaging configuration but are usually available individually. Although exterior packaging is altered to reflect the theme of the representative holiday, the actual holiday itself is never presented.[20]

Reese's Peanut Butter Hearts

Available mainly during January and February, these are heart-shaped confections representing Valentine's Day. At various retailers, an individually-packaged, larger heart is available as well. These are packaged in all-red exterior packaging.

Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs

Available mainly during March and April, these are egg-shaped confections representing Easter. Exterior packaging is usually yellow and orange (milk chocolate), white and orange (white chocolate), or dark brown and orange (fudge-flavored chocolate). This is the only holiday-themed item available in three various chocolate varieties.[21] A larger, individually-packaged Easter Bunny Reese's peanut butter item, known as Reester Bunny, is available as well. Also, Reese's Pieces are offered in Pastel Eggs.

Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins

Available mainly during September and October, these are pumpkin-shaped confections representing Halloween. The packaging is standard Reese's orange with a jack-o-lantern picture and the word "Pumpkins" prominently displayed.

Reese's Peanut Butter Ghosts

Available mainly during September and October, these are ghost-shaped confections representing Halloween. The packaging is Halloween themed with the word scary on it. The ghost replaces the letter "a" in the word scary. First released in 2016.

Reese's Peanut Butter Christmas Trees

Available mainly during November and December, these are evergreen tree-shaped confections representing Christmas. At various retailers these may be available in standard milk chocolate or white. Initially, the packaging was green, white, and orange, but has been changed to a winter scene with a snow-covered ground and a snowman with a central large orange evergreen tree-shape in the center of the package. Another product offered is Reese's Peanut Butter Bells, which offers miniature Reese's cups in a Christmas bell shape. A third product is a milk chocolate-covered Reese's Snowman, wrapped in a snowman foil. The peanut butter snowman is three times larger than the peanut butter tree, egg or pumpkin.[22]

In November 2015, consumers criticized the product via Twitter for bearing too vague a resemblance to a Christmas tree.[23]

Licensed foods[edit]

Hershey licenses the Reese's brand (name, logo, etc.) to various companies for the production of other products beyond the traditional realm of candy. For example, General Mills produces Reese's Puffs, a brand of peanut butter and chocolate flavored breakfast cereal. Several companies, including Breyers, Baskin-Robbins, and Dairy Queen, produce various licensed Reese's ice cream products.

Marketing and advertising[edit]

The Reese's logo

In the United States, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups typically come in packs of 2, 4, 5, 10 or 20 in distinctive orange packaging, set on thin but rigid paperboard trays. The "Classic" two-pack is a 0.75 oz. cup since 2001 (originally a 0.9 oz. size, reduced to 0.8 oz. in 1991), the "King Size" four-pack introduced in the early 1980s is a 0.7 oz. cup (originally a 0.8 oz. cup until 1991) and the "Lunch" eight-pack is a 0.55 oz. cup. "Large Size" packs of three 0.7 oz. cups, as well as bags containing 0.6 oz. cups, are also available. The "mini" cups come in various bag sizes and foil colors for seasonal themes like red, gold and green for the Christmas holiday season. In Canada, where they are packaged as Reese Peanut Butter Cups (except Reese's pieces), but still widely referred to by their American name, they come in a standard pack of three 0.55 oz. cups or the king-size variation with four cups. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, they were originally available only in two-packs, though are now only available in three-packs, imported from Canada. In 2008 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups were made available in Europe by Hydro Texaco and 7-Eleven. In Australia, Reese's products can be found in many specialty candy stores, as well as from American stores such as Costco.

In the 1970s and 1980s, a series of commercials were run for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups featuring situations in which two people, one eating peanut butter and one eating chocolate, collided. One person would exclaim, "You got your peanut butter on my chocolate!" and the other would exclaim, "You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!". They would then sample the mixture and remark on the great taste, tying in with the slogan "Two great tastes that taste great together."

In the 1990s, the product's slogan was: "There's no wrong way to eat a Reese's." The current slogan, introduced in the mid-2000s, is: "Perfect".

Reese's was an associate sponsor of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers Mark Martin (1994), and Kevin Harvick (2007–2010).


Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are made with the controversial ingredient PGPR (Polyglycerol polyricinoleate, E476, a.k.a. Palsgaard 4150),[24] which is used as a replacement for cocoa butter.[25] The FDA has determined it to be "safe for humans as long as you restrict your intake to 7.5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight".[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Fascinating Rise Of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups". Business Insider. June 30, 2013. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  2. ^ "H.B. Reese Made A Sweet Business Out Of Quality Candy". Investor's Business Daily. January 21, 2015. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  3. ^ "The History of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups". Today I Found Out. June 5, 2013. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  4. ^ "Reese Candy Company". Hershey Community Archives. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  5. ^ "The H.B. Reese Candy Company Story". BradReeseCom. Lebanon Daily News. June 9, 1956. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  6. ^ "H.B. Reese Death Announcement". BradReeseCom. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  7. ^ "The 1963 Reese/Hershey Merger Closing Agenda" (PDF). BradReeseCom. Retrieved 2013-10-11.
  8. ^ "Hershey Declares Quarterly Dividends". Market Watch. July 26, 2018. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  9. ^ "Was it Hershey or Reese That Made Peanut Butter Cups Great?". Atlas Obscura. October 27, 2016. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  10. ^ "Snickers Surging to Top of Global Candy Race". Ad Age. September 20, 2012. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
  11. ^ "REESE'S - An Indulgent C-Store Driver". The Hershey Company. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  12. ^ "Reese's product listing". Archived from the original on 2010-11-14. Retrieved 2008-05-09.
  13. ^ Sha Spence (9 March 2017). "Reese's Launches New Peanut Butter Cups Filled with Crunchy Chocolate Bits". People. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
  14. ^ "World's Largest REESE'S Peanut Butter Cups".
  15. ^ Bob Sassone (17 November 2007). "Pop Food: Reese's Whipps". Youtube. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  16. ^ "The Fascinating Rise Of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups". Business Insider France (in French). Retrieved 2017-10-31.
  17. ^ "Special Edition The Dark Knight Reese's and Kit Kat Fly Into Stores to Celebrate Debut of the Highly Anticipated New Batman Film". Hershey's. 2008. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  18. ^ "Special Edition The Dark Knight Reese's and Kit Kat Fly Into Stores to Celebrate Debut of the Highly Anticipated New Batman Film". PR Newswire. 10 June 2008. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  19. ^ "Lukas' article regarding Reese Sticks". Retrieved 2011-12-07.
  20. ^ "Reese's Seasonal Products". Archived from the original on 2012-01-11. Retrieved 2011-12-07.
  21. ^ Are you a Cadbury Crème or Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg? Retrieved 2013-12-9
  22. ^ Reese's Peanut Butter Cups: World's Largest at Yahoo Voices Archived 2014-07-29 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 2013-12-9
  23. ^ Cox, Dan (27 November 2015). "Seriously, people are upset this year's Reese's Peanut Butter Christmas Trees don't look enough like Christmas trees". Inquistr. Retrieved 28 Nov 2015.
  24. ^ "REESE'S Peanut Butter Cups". Archived from the original on 2015-01-23.
  25. ^ "Manufacturers overlook cocoa butter savings" (PDF).
  26. ^ "GRAS Notice 000466: polyricinoleic acid" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-07-09.

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