The Long-Established Connection Between Hershey And Reese's

Chocolate and peanut butter are a combination as American as hot dogs and ketchup, white bread and mayo, or apple pie and ice cream, but arguably more delicious than all of the above. And no one does chocolate and peanut butter better than Reese's. In fact, if you close your eyes and picture the combo, you probably think of the candy company's signature orange color without even realizing it. That's no surprise, given that Reese's Peanut Butter Cups were 2022's top-selling candy in the U.S., according to a survey from the National Retail Federation (per USA Today). The candy beat out Kit Kats, M&M's, and even Reese's parent company's signature product, the Hershey's chocolate bar.

Hershey, named after its founder Milton Hershey, is the largest candy company in the United States, with nearly 24% of the market (per Statista). Originally launched in 1894 as a producer of tinned cocoa powder, Hershey soon expanded to sell a number of sweet treats, starting with a simple milk chocolate bar inspired by the kind made in Switzerland. But while the company did make chocolate kisses, chocolate syrup, and Mr. Goodbar candy, it didn't invent the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.

Reese's starts and ends with Hershey

H.B. Reese, a Pennsylvania farmer, fell right into fate's hands when he answered a job posting to work at a dairy farm owned by none other than Milton Hershey. Reese eventually took up work at Hershey's candy manufacturing factory, before branching out to found his own with the invention of the Reese's peanut butter cup in 1928.

Starting a candy company in the middle of America's most famous candy manufacturing town, a place whose very name is synonymous with chocolate bars, was a bold move. But the move benefited both Reese and Hershey, with Hershey supplying chocolate for the production of peanut butter cups, and Reese's becoming one of the chocolate giant's biggest customers.

The original H.B. Reese Candy Company factory was built on Chocolate Avenue in Hershey, Pennsylvania, initially producing a variety of chocolate-based products. High sugar prices during World War II eventually prompted Reese to taper his business down to focus solely on peanut butter cups, which were wildly popular and continued to become a household name during the 1940s and 1950s. H.B. Reese passed away in 1956, and after his death, his six sons sold the company to Hershey, bringing the beloved candy back into their fold.