By far one of the most popular chocolate treats in the world is the Reese’s peanut butter cup. It’s hard to find the words that can truly describe just how great these things are, but the fact of the matter is that almost everyone loves them. Well, as it turns out, the candy has an interesting story behind it as well. These are 10 secrets that will change the way you eat Reese’s.
10. Reese’s First Candies Were A Bust
The entire story of the Reese’s peanut butter cup starts with one man: Harry Burnett Reese. The mastermind behind the beloved candy didn’t even start out working in a different industry (which is how these stories typically begin). His first major job was actually working for Hershey’s in a milking facility known as the Round House. Reese started humbly enough, working as a milker before moving up into a management position. However, the facility was eventually closed, and Reese found himself out of a job. Having had experience in the confection game, Reese decided to strike out on his own and make his own sweets. Unfortunately, the first things he tried were not entirely successful. He began simply enough, with chocolate almonds and raisins. While this might have actually worked as a business today (although you would have a lot of competition to deal with), back then the candies did not do well, and Reese found himself struggling to keep up with other candy makers. Reese eventually had to admit defeat when he couldn’t afford to make the candies anymore. He actually wound up going back to Hershey’s and working in their shipping department. Even though he once again worked his way up to the job of foreman, Reese wanted more.
9. He Named Chocolate Bars After His Kids
Reese looked at the success of Hershey’s and knew that if one candy company could make it in America, then certainly another one could as well. While continuing to work for Hershey’s Reese experimented with his own candy concoctions at home. His first big success came in the form of a bar named after his daughter. The Lizzie bar was a combination of caramel and shaved coconut that was covered in chocolate (that actually sounds pretty delicious). The bar was a major success. Along with the Lizzie bar, there was also the Johnny bar, which was made with molasses and named after Reese’s son. It must be something of an honor to have a chocolate bar named after you, so Reese’s kids were probably thrilled. Due to the success of the bars, Reese eventually quit his job at Hershey’s and tried once again to make it on his own. This time, however, he was met with a lot of success, and it all had to do with one specific candy: the now-famous and ubiquitous peanut butter cup. Reese didn’t know it at the time, but this combination of chocolate and peanut butter would eventually become one of the best-selling and most popular candies in the world. Of course, since he had no idea how popular they would be, they didn’t quite get the chance to shine right away.
8. The First Peanut Butter Cup Was Part of An Assortment
Reese had incorporated his own company and was moving forward on making all kinds of different sweets. It wasn’t until five years after incorporation that he made the very first peanut butter cup, the candy that would eventually change the chocolate game for good. When he created the peanut butter cup (then known as a ‘penny cup’ since each one only cost a cent), he didn’t know what kind of amazing thing he had created. In fact, he didn’t really see the potential in it at all. That might be why the original peanut butter cups were just thrown into assortment bags that were then sold to vendors. That’s right, the peanut butter cup wasn’t even leading the pack. It was just thrown into a bag with a bunch of other stuff. IT almost seems crazy to us now that the peanut butter cup should just be pushed to the side, not even given its own roll out, display, or packaging, but that’s the way it was. However, people buying the bags quickly realized just how amazing the peanut butter cups were, and it wasn’t long before they were being sold on their own. Of course, a major worldwide historical event was about to change everything, including how candy could be made. Luckily for Reese, This actually ended up working in his favor.
7. Peanut Butter Cup Production Soared During WWII
When the Second World War broke out, it was a time of great conflict. It was also a time of great rationing, as supplies needed to be doled out to the soldiers on the front lines. People were willing to make do with what they could so that the military could keep their fighting men fed and fueled up for combat. Two of the most rationed items during this time were things that really hit the candy industry, however: sugar and chocolate. With these two essential candy items being rationed, it meant that candy production in the United States was going to slow down, at least in some ways. However, this was not a problem for Reese, as he had the advantage of using peanut butter in his most popular candy. Peanut butter was not being rationed at the time, which meant that there was an abundance of it stateside. That meant that Reese could keep producing his best-selling signature candy without requiring the as much of the rationed food items. On top of all that, Reese found a way to automate the creation of the peanut butter cups, meaning that he could churn out hundreds of them in a very short time frame. All of a sudden, the American market was flooded with the delicious candy, and Reese had finally made it as a chocolatier. This brought him to Hershey’s attention.
6. Hershey Ended Up Buying Reese’s
Henry Burnett Reese passed away in 1956, but his candy would go on to even greater success. Once it became apparent that the Reese’s peanut butter cup was going to be a big hit with people, the company caught the attention of Reese’s former employer, Hershey. The Reese corporation had originally been left to Reese’s six sons, Robert, John, Ed, Ralph, Harry, and Charles Richard. However, in 1963, the sons decided to merge the company with Hershey in a massive deal. The company was brought under the Hershey banner, and it ended up being a hugely lucrative deal for the chocolate giant. Even though Hershey had already enjoyed massive success with its own chocolate bars, the Reese’s peanut butter cup became its best-selling product by 1969. Hershey has still reaped massive benefits from buying Reese’s. The peanut butter cup became the best-selling candy in the United States in 2012, along with being the fourth best-selling candy brand on a global scale. Henry Reese probably never even knew that his candy would become such a massive phenomenon and that it would eventually become the basis for tons of spin-off confections like sugary cereal, ice cream, and even jars of Reese’s peanut butter. Of course, the most successful take on Reese’s peanut butter is the one that almost everyone is familiar with: Reese’s Pieces.
5. Reese’s Pieces Have No Chocolate In Them
The next step in the evolution of Reese’s peanut butter was cramming it inside of a candy shell similar to an M&M. Thus, Reese’s Pieces were born. The little yellow, orange, and brown candies weren’t a huge hit, but people did seem to like them when they hit the market (they remain popular to this day). Now, you may have noticed that we haven’t mentioned a certain word yet in talking about Reese’s pieces, which is why what we’re about to say might kind of blow your mind. Some of you may have already picked up on it, but the word missing from the description from Reese’s Pieces is, of course, chocolate. “Wait a minute,” you might be saying, sitting back from your computer in shock, “There is most definitely chocolate in Reese’s Pieces! Everyone knows that!” Well, we hate to burst your bubble, but there most certainly is not. Reese’s Pieces are nothing more than that delicious peanut butter filling inside of a candy shell. No chocolate to be found! Reese’s Pieces may be popular today, and, in fact, one of the most popular peanut butter cups being sold right now is the big cup filled with the pieces (which, by the way, are so delicious). However, the little pieces weren’t always as popular as you might think, and the boost in popularity came from an unlikely source.
4. E.T. Made Reese’s Pieces Way More Popular
Steven Spielberg was at the top of his game in the eighties. He had already directed three surefire hits with Jaws, Close encounters of the Third Kind, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. His next big picture was going to be more of a family affair, albeit one with a science fiction aspect to it as well: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. The film told the story of a young boy dealing with his own personal problems while also harboring an alien and trying to get him back home. One of the most memorable parts of the film comes right at the beginning when Elliott, the young boy, discovers that the E.T. is hiding in his family’s tool shed. In an attempt to lure him out of hiding, Elliott places Reese’s Pieces on the ground leading to the house. This scene immediately connected Reese’s Pieces with one of the most successful films of all time, and sales of the candy began to skyrocket, rising almost 60% after the premiere. What makes this even funnier is that Spielberg had originally wanted to use M&M’s in the scene, which to be fair, is the more obvious choice. However, the Mars corporation turned down his offer to have their product featured in the film. Reese’s leaped at the opportunity and embarked on a cross-promotional advertising initiative with the film as well.
3. There Was a Flavor Based on Elvis
You might think that there’s not a lot of customizing you can do with a peanut butter cup. After all, how do you improve on perfection? However, Reese’s has constantly found ways to make their candy more interesting and different. Sure, they started out simply enough, with just peanut butter and chocolate in a little cup, but things got a lot more interesting as time went on. In fact, you’ve probably seen a lot of the different flavors and peanut butter chocolate delivery systems made by the company on store shelves. The first innovation was the crunchy peanut butter cups, an obvious follow up to the smooth peanut butter. Then came some other variations, mostly in size. The mini peanut butter cups have always been a big hit, and then the big cups that came out years later delivered even more of what people loved about the originals. There have been dark chocolate cups, white chocolate cups, and the aforementioned big cups with Reese’s Pieces inside. There have been Reese bars, bites, and, of course, Easter eggs. One of the craziest concoctions the people at Reese’s ever came up with, though, was a peanut butter cup celebrating Elvis, which included a smear of banana cream along with the peanut butter in the middle. This was an ode to the King’s favorite snack: a peanut butter and banana sandwich.
2. Reese’s is the most popular Halloween (and Easter) candy
One of the best days of the year when you’re a kid is by far Halloween. Not only do you get to dress up as your favorite monster, superhero, or anything else, but you also get to walk around your neighborhood and get candy, for free! And while there may be a lot of gross candy to sift through (circus peanuts, tootsie rolls, etc.), there are also the coveted candy prizes, the things that every kid wants in their bag. Chief among them is the king of all candies, the Reese’s peanut butter cup. While that might just sound like an opinion, it’s actually the truth. Reese’s dominates at Halloween, accounting for the highest sales of any candy during the holiday. And it’s not just Halloween that is completely owned by the peanut butter cup. As Reese’s has branched out into other shapes for their treats, they have also come to dominate the market during Christmas and Easter as well. It just goes to show just how powerful the combination of chocolate and peanut butter can be. People just can’t get enough of them. It’s hard to deny the massive amount of influence that Reese’s peanut butter cups have had on the candy industry, and it actually goes so far that people have decided that there needs to be an entire 24 hour period of celebration for this amazing candy.
1. May 18 is “I Love Reese’s Day”
There are plenty of holidays where Reese’s peanut butter cups become the star of the show, but there is only one day a year when Reese’s truly gets to shine: May 18th. That’s because back in 2010, a Facebook petition got over 400,000 signatures to declare that day “I Love Reese’s Day.” You might think it’s weird for a candy to have its own made-up holiday, but it’s hard to deny the fact that people really do love Reese’s peanut butter cups. Just look at how the cups are packaged: three cups in a sleeve. That means that the candy inherently promotes sharing, which is a good lesson to teach at any time of the year. Not only that, but there’s something to be said about the industrious and upstart nature of the candy’s history, formulated in the basement of one man who had a vision of making a better candy. So there you have it. Turns out those delicious, soft, melt-in-your-mouth cups combining the richness of chocolate and salty-sweet flavor of great peanut butter have a far more interesting history than almost any candy out there. Think about that the next time you bite into any one of Reese’s delicious variations on its famous chocolate!