The H.B. Reese Candy Company began manufacturing a product made with specially processed peanut butter and HERSHEY'S Milk Chocolate in the 1920s. Introduced as simply peanut butter cups, the popular candy item is known today as REESE'S peanut butter cups.
The name REESE'S has a unique heritage established by Harry Burnett (H.B.) Reese, a former dairy employee of Milton S. Hershey, founder of Hershey Foods Corporation. Reese was so inspired by Mr. Hershey's success that he left the dairy business to make his living in the candy industry.
While that decision inevitably developed into something truly unique in America's food industry, Reese experienced much adversity before building a company that thrived on the manufacture of a single product.
Born in 1879 on a farm in Frosty Hill, PA (York County), Reese was not very fond of farming. As a youth, he took a variety of jobs including country butchering and oil burner selling before moving to Hershey, PA, in 1917.
Following ventures in nearby Hummelstown and Palmyra, where he had some success with Johnny Bars and Lizzie Bars (caramel-like molasses and coconut candy), he moved back to Hershey, a few blocks from the already famous Hershey Chocolate manufacturing facility.
During the mid-twenties, Reese began selling his peanut butter cups in five-pound boxes for use in candy assortments. Ten years later, Reese added the cups which were sold for a penny a piece to the assortment line. Conditions during World War II prompted him to discontinue his other lines to concentrate on peanut butter cups, "a product that both the young and old alike can eat and enjoy..."
Distributed through wholesale jobbers, vending machine operators and syndicated stores, the peanut butter cups, in their familiar orange, yellow and brown wrapping, continued to gain popularity on a nationwide scale during the '40s and early '50s.
By mid-1950, it was evident that a larger manufacturing facility was needed. A tract of land on the western edge of Hershey was selected and ground was broken for a modern, extensively automated plant. The 100,000 square-foot facility, built along Chocolate Avenue, opened in August 1957.
Six years later, in 1963, the H.B. Reese Candy Company, Inc., was sold for $23.5 million to the Hershey Chocolate Company, currently known as Hershey Foods Corporation, its chocolate-making neighbor.
Recently, the company introduced popular limited edition items including White Chocolate (now a permanent item), Dark Chocolate, INSIDE OUT and BIG CUP peanut butter cups.