Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
|Owner||The Hershey Company|
|Produced by||The Hershey Company|
|Introduced||November 15, 1928|
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are an American candy consisting of a chocolate cup filled with peanut butter, marketed by The Hershey Company. They were created on November 15, 1928, by H. B. Reese, a former dairy farmer and shipping foreman for Milton S. Hershey. Reese left his job with Hershey to start his own candy business. Reese's generates more than $2 billion in annual sales for The Hershey Company, and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are number one on the list of top-selling candy brands.
The history of the H.B. Reese Candy Company
In 1923, The H.B. Reese Candy Company was established in the basement of Reese's home in Hershey, Pennsylvania. 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. 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. 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 2022 after 59 years of stock splits, the Reese brothers' original 666,316 shares of Hershey common stock represented 16 million Hershey shares valued at over $3.1 billion that paid annual cash dividends of $57.6 million. In 1969, only six years after the Reese/Hershey merger, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups became The Hershey Company's top seller.
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.
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 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.
Product brand variations
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The first Peanut Butter Cup, a peanut butter and chocolate confection, was launched in 1928 by the H.B. Reese Candy Company. The official product name was actually "Penny Cups" because, at the time, the confection could be purchased for one cent.
In 1963, The Hershey Company purchased the H.B. Reese Candy Company from H.B. Reese's sons. Since then, the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup product portfolio has grown to sell different variations of the product, using alternate chocolate or candy coatings, offering different sizes, and honoring different seasonal holidays and events. As the introduction of these variations took off in popularity, they soon earned a permanent spot in the product portfolio.
The first non-original Reese's Peanut Butter Cup product brand variation was launched in 1976, under the product name "Reese's Crunchy". The Reese's Crunchy product brand variation featured a crunchy peanut butter creme, as opposed to the smooth peanut butter creme in the original Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.
In 1987, the first Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, King Size was launched.
In July 2016, The Hershey Company launched a product variation that merges two of Reese's products: Reese's Pieces and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. The new product brand variation is called Reese's Pieces Peanut Butter Cups which consist of the original Reese's Peanut Butter Cup that has Reese's Pieces candy mixed in to the peanut butter filling.
In September 2020, The Hershey Company announced the introduction of a new product variation on the Reese's Peanut Butter Big Cup that will include pretzel pieces within the peanut butter creme filling, called "Reese’s Big Cups with Pretzels". At the same time, Hershey also announced the limited edition Big Cup launching in March 2021 called "Big Cup with Chips" which will be a Reese's Big Cup with potato chips mixed into the peanut butter creme filling.
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Hershey's produces variations and "limited editions" of the candy that have included:
- Big Cup: a thicker version of the traditional Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. Introduced in 2003, but was not added to the permanent brand portfolio until 2005.
- Big Cup with Reese's Pieces: This version of the Big Cup contains Reese's Pieces, mixed in the peanut butter filling.
- Half-Pound Cup: a single cup weighing 226 g; released in Canada in 2011.
- Miniatures: bite-size versions available year-round in bags. These chocolates come wrapped in black paper and gold foil.
- Minis: Unwrapped Mini Cups.
- Thins: chocolate and filling are 40% thinner than the original cup. Launched October 2018 in milk chocolate and dark chocolate varieties; now offered in white creme as well.
- Sugar Free: same as the original but without sugar. These come wrapped in black paper and orange foil. Launched in March 2003.
- World's Largest: each cup weighs 8 oz.
- Caramel: the traditional cup with an added layer of caramel filling. First available in 2006. Discontinued.
- Crunchy: a traditional cup with crunchy peanut butter, as opposed to the smooth peanut butter in the original. Introduced in the 1970s. It has been discontinued and rereleased over the years. Still available in some markets as of 2019.
- Crunchy Cookie Cup: a layered cup with crushed chocolate cookies and peanut butter filling. First available in 1997. Discontinued in 1999, but was brought back in 2017. Hershey has since launched a Big Cup version called Reese's Big Cup Crunchy Cookie.
- Double Chocolate: chocolate fudge filling instead of peanut butter. Limited edition. First available in 2006. Discontinued.
- Double Crunch: a traditional cup with peanut filling similar to a Snickers bar, released in the fourth quarter of 2010.
- Hazelnut Cream: hazelnut cream instead of the standard peanut butter filling. Was only available in Canada and now discontinued.
- Honey Roasted: a traditional cup substituting honey roasted peanut butter. First available in early 2000s but was brought back in 2017 as 'Taste of Georgia Honey Roasted Reese's' for a limited time. Discontinued.
- Marshmallow: the traditional cup with an added layer of marshmallow filling. First available in 2007. Discontinued.
- 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. First available in 2007. Discontinued.
- Chocolate Lovers: a thicker chocolate cup with a thinner layer of peanut butter. Was available in 2003–2005. Brought back for Summer 2019.
- Dark Chocolate: peanut butter filling in a dark chocolate cup. First available in early 2000s; introduced on and off as part of limited edition product variations for many years, then made its permanent debut in 2009.
- Fudge: a thicker, darker chocolate cup with peanut butter filling. First available in 2004. Discontinued.
- White Creme: peanut butter filling in a white chocolate cup. In December 2003, the White Reese's Peanut Butter Cup product variation was permanently added to the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup product line. The product brand variation originally launched as "White Chocolate Reese's Peanut Butter Cups" but was changed to White Reese's or White Creme Reese's after scrutiny for its misrepresentation since the product does not actually include any chocolate.
Coating and filling variations
- Extra Smooth & Creamy: Has a smoother chocolate and peanut butter filling. First available in early 2000s. Discontinued.
- Inside Out: chocolate filling in a peanut butter cup (a reversal of the traditional version). First available in 2005. Discontinued.
- Peanut Butter Lovers: a layered cup with top peanut butter layer, thin chocolate layer and peanut butter filling. Was available in 2003–2005. Brought back for Summer 2019. The Peanut Butter Lovers cup in 2005 did not have extra peanut butter in the shell coating as it does today.
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.
- 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. Launched nationally in 1997.
- 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 chocolate varieties.
- 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. Launched nationally in 1993. White Creme pumpkins were added to the Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkin line in 2017.
- 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 Franken-Cup: Released in 2020, Hershey's first colored Reese's variation. It consists of milk chocolate, white creme that is dyed green, and the traditional peanut butter creme filling.
- 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. In November 2015, consumers criticized the product via Twitter for bearing too vague a resemblance to a Christmas tree.
- The above are all slightly larger than a single, ordinary Reese's Cup.
- Reese's Peanut Butter Bells: These bell shaped candies are smaller than a traditional cup, but are slightly larger than a miniature cup and have a higher ratio of chocolate to peanut butter. They are sold in bulk bags, much like Hershey Kisses.
- Reester Bunny: A larger, individually-packaged Easter Bunny.
- Reese's Snowman: The peanut butter snowman is three times larger than the peanut butter tree, egg or pumpkin.
- Reese's Peanut Butter Ugly Sweater - Candy in the shape of an ugly sweater, a common Christmas gift.
Marketing and advertising
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, but still widely referred to by their American name. The 's is recognized only in English grammar, so it was removed to make the name bilingual in Canada. Previously packaged in a two pack, they now 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 available in three-packs, five-packs and minis. 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." In 2006, its slogan was: "Perfect". The current slogan, introduced in 2018, is: "Not Sorry. Reese's".
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He enjoyed enough success to quit his steady job in the factory and set out to “make a living” by making candy.
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