The Story of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Oct 17, 2015

“If someone tells you to stop eating Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, stop them. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.”

It all started when I was walking through Wegmans grocery store and I happened to see a huge container filled with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. For some reason that view caught my eye and I took a picture of those delicious little candies. 

On September 4, 2016, at 6:11a.m. I posted that picture on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook with this quote, “If someone tells you to stop eating Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, stop them. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.” I was actually looking for a quote on chocolate and found some of these words and then adapted them to fit Reese’s.

I simply could not believe what happened over the next few days. The response on Instagram (44 likes) and many Twitter “shares” were nothing like what took place on Facebook. In two days I had 30 comments, over 75 “shares,” 382 “likes,” and the message had reached 14,868 people. 

The comments went from “Try them frozen” to “Best piece of advice I’ve heard all week,” to “You understand me,” and “Finally, a word from heaven.” They all made me smile but none like the person who actually quoted the Bible, altering a few words to fit this delicious little chocolate treat.

Messages came from over half of the states in America and more than a half dozen countries of the world. Who knew that people in Jordan, Korea, India, Russia, Zambia, Guatemala and the United Kingdom cared about Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. 

I heard from current students here at UVF and former students and college classmates. Almost every profession was represented, from bankers to bus drivers and from the military to those in ministry and even one college president.

For me, the story of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups is about the power of social media. I have posted all kinds of things online but few things have ever generated the response of that post. There must have been something about the saying coupled with the familiar photo of those delicious treats that resonated with a lot of people. Even when I have tried to post something profound I don’t usually get that kind of response. 

There are a lot of people, including me, who have Harry Burnett (H.B.) Reese to thank for this delicious candy. He was born on May 24, 1879, and after he was married in 1900, he and his wife had 16 children. Because of his large family, he took many odd jobs but in 1917 he went to work on a dairy farm owned by Milton S. Hershey. 

After several years he began working in the Hershey Chocolate Factory where Hershey and his chocolate inspired him. To make a little extra money for his large family, he started creating confections in his basement naming bars and candies after his many children. 

In the 1920s, with his business growing, he set up the H.B. Reese Candy Company and by 1928 he started selling chocolate and peanut butter confections he simply called peanut butter cups or “penny cups” because they cost just one penny at the time. Milton Hershey always considered Reese a customer and not a rival because Reese used Hershey’s chocolate for his peanut butter cups. 

The rest is history. Reese died in 1956 before his 77th birthday but seven years later six sons decided to sell the family business. In 1963, the Hershey Chocolate Company purchased the company for nearly $24 million and roughly a 5 percent share of the Hershey Company (which today is worth about $20 billion, 5 percent of which is $1 billion.)

Today, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are among the top 10 favorite chocolate treats in the United States.

Now that is quite a story.

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of  
University of Valley Forge, Phoenixville, Pa. 
Responses can be mailed to 
Official page:
Follow on Twitter: @DrDonMeyer
Archives at