Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
|Owner||The Hershey Company|
(H.B. Reese Candy Company)
|Introduced||November 15, 1928|
|Previous owners||H. B. Reese|
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are an American candy consisting of a milk, white, or dark chocolate cup filled with peanut cream, 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.
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 2019 after 56 years of stock splits, the Reese brothers' original 666,316 shares of Hershey common stock represented 16 million Hershey shares valued at over $2.5 billion that paid annual cash dividends of $49.4 million. In 1969, only 6 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 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.
Hershey's produces "limited editions" of the candy that have included:
- Big Cup: larger sized cup.
- 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: thinner chocolate, thinner filling. Available in milk and dark chocolate.
- 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 1970's. 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.
- 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 mid-2000s. Brought back for Summer 2019.
- Dark Chocolate: peanut butter filling in a dark chocolate cup. First available in early 2000s.
- Fudge: a thicker, darker chocolate cup with peanut butter filling. First available in 2004. Discontinued.
- White Chocolate: peanut butter filling in a white chocolate cup. First available in early 2000s. Still available as 'white Reese's'.
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 mid-2000s. Brought back for Summer 2019.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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 (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 Peanut Butter Cups are made with the controversial ingredient PGPR (Polyglycerol polyricinoleate, E476, a.k.a. Palsgaard 4150), which is used as a replacement for cocoa butter. 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".
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- Are you a Cadbury Crème or Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg? Retrieved 2013-12-9
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- Locker, Melissa (November 2, 2018). "Reese's doesn't care what you think about its thin peanut butter cups". Fast Company. Retrieved April 6, 2019.
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