The Secret History of Reese’s Pieces with Peanuts!

Reese’s Pieces have been around since the late 1970’s, and over the years the brand has received limited run extensions in the form of Reese’s Pieces with the addition of Peanuts.  They did so just last year, but I was surprised to learn that the history of this brand extension goes back much further than I’d originally guessed.  Make the jump to find out just how far!

I was excited when Reese’s announced that they’d be bringing back Reese’s Pieces with Peanuts in the Spring of 2016 as I fondly recalled the first time that I’d encountered them just over a decade before.

I had long believed that the early 2000’s release of Reese’s Pieces with Peanuts was the first such extension for the Reese’s Pieces brand.  They initially came out as a limited edition in 2004:

Hershey – Reese’s Pieces with Nuts – Limited Edition – 1.6 oz candy package – 2004

The limited edition release must have been a hit because they were soon appearing on-shelves without the limited indication.  To the best of my knowledge, Reese’s Pieces with Peanuts were around for at least a couple more years, as you can see by these two packages from 2005 and 2006 respectively:

Hershey – Reese’s Pieces with Nuts – 3.2 oz candy box – 2005

Hershey – Reese’s Pieces with Nuts – 14.5 oz candy package – 2006

So, when the 2016 release appeared, it was a welcome relaunch of that early 2000’s brand extension:

Hershey – Reese’s Pieces Peanut – 1.5oz candy package – March 2016

I picked up quite a few of those new Reese’s Pieces with Peanuts packs last year, as I seemed to always find them on-sale at Walgreens whenever I popped in.   They would also end up releasing a double-size King Size package:

Hershey – Reese’s Pieces Peanut – King Size -3oz candy package – March 2016

I had assumed that the 2016 relaunch of Reese’s Pieces with Peanuts was the end of the story on this brand extension, with 2004 being the original Limited Edition and this being the modern re-release.  But not long after the 2016 relaunch, I came into possession of a Reese’s Pieces Peanut package that pre-dated the 2004 launch by two decades!

It was a thrilling discovery as I’d never found a reference to this earlier incarnation anywhere, and I’d certainly never seen a package for one.  So here it is; the ACTUAL original release of Reese’s Pieces with Peanuts from all the way back in the early 1980’s – this is one you won’t find anywhere else but here on CollectingCandy.com:

Hershey – Reese’s Pieces Peanut – NEW – 1.75 oz candy package – early 1980’s

I think that package is amazing and it features a design and layout that pretty much followed the standard Reese’s Pieces pack from the time:

Hershey – Reese’s Pieces – Now 21% More – 1.75 oz candy package – 1982-83

So that discovery reveals a far deeper history for the Reese’s Pieces Peanut brand extension than I’d ever considered previously, providing me with solid evidence of three different eras for the product:

Hershey – Reese’s Pieces with Peanuts – 1983-2016

Of course, now I wonder if the 1990’s received its own release for Reese’s Pieces Peanut as well.  Though I’ve never seen a scrap of evidence to support that idea, the discovery of the early 80’s package tells me that you can never say never where this material is concerned.  Maybe 2017 will be the year I find out even more.

And that’s everything I’ve got on the secret history Reese’s Pieces Peanut!  Thanks for checking it out and for joining us for a week-long lead-in to CollectingCandy.com’s 5th Anniversary coming on February 6th.  See you next time!

P.S. For a little more historical coverage of Reese’s Pieces, check out my 2012 post marking the 30th Anniversary of E.T. The Extra Terrestrial!  And also this one on the 1970’s Wacky Packages parody sticker “Pieces”.

About Jason Liebig

A New York City based writer, editor and sometimes actor. After spending much of the 1990′s in the comic book business helping tell the stories of Marvel Comics’ X-Men as series editor, he has since split his time between developing his own entertainment properties while still consulting and working on others.

Having been described as “the Indiana Jones of lost and forgotten candy”, Jason is one of the country’s premier candy collectors and historians with his discoveries appearing in countless blogs, magazines, newspaper articles, and books.

Always happy to share his knowledge and unique perspectives on this colorful part of our popular culture, Jason has consulted with New York’s Museum of Food and Drink and has also been a featured guest on Food Network’s Heavyweights, France’s M6 Capital, and New York’s TheActionRoom.com.

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5 Responses to The Secret History of Reese’s Pieces with Peanuts!

  1. Bob Stambaugh says:

    Great article Jason. As you can see, this is a lengthy diatribe.

    All I really want to know is why the chocolate in Hershey’s current version of what they call ‘Hershey-ets tastes so foreign and terrible.
    Original ‘Hershey-ets’ which were shaped like this: . Next came the replacement version which were shaped similar to an M&M but not quite as thick. Then they began making red and green ‘Hershey-ets’ in plastic candy canes for the holiday season. Then along came ‘Kissables’ which were around for a number of years and then all of a sudden, they hanged the chocolate formula for what was in inside, and they soon after disappeared from the market. (choking hazard?).
    What they pawn off as ‘Hershey-ets’ today suck.
    I believe that Hershey Chocolate Company tried to crack into the market that M&M’s has dominated forever and gave up. What was wrong with a similar but far superior tasting product?
    I also believe that the production equipment used to make the second version of ‘Hershey-ets’ was sitting unused in some warehouse in Hershey, perhaps near or in the ‘Reese’s plant and someone with a stroke of genius said, “why don’t we try this…”, Reese’s Pieces were born, totally bolstered by the movie “ET” and the rest is history.
    I say this because other than the three limited colors of Reese’s Pieces, “Hershey-ets had red and tan as well; the size, shape and shells of both are identical. The experience of eating both is identical except for the filling taste. ‘Pieces’ filling tastes awesome. The original, second version and original ‘Kissables’ all had the same delicious fillings.
    Please let me know if you hear that Hershey has changed back to he original chocolate filling in their holiday ‘Hershey-ets. I threw away 4 pricey Christmas buckets of fake tasting product from 10 years ago just recently. They tasted just as nasty as when I first bought them.

    PS – I recall early in Hershey-ets history they were briefly available with small ‘spanish’ peanuts inside. Do you recall these or am I having inaccurate flashbacks?
    Thanks for your insight on all things ‘candy’.

    • Jason Liebig says:

      Bob,

      Thanks for your in-depth reply to today’s post. It’s a bit off-topic, but that’s okay with me.

      In answer to your questions and speculative thoughts, let me address them in order:

      First, I can’t tell you why you feel that Hershey-Ets don’t taste the way they used to. I don’t know of any OFFICIAL change to point to. But there are countless possible reasons; ingredient change, manufacturing change, you’ve changed. 😉 It’s just the way it goes, sometimes. And as Hershey-Ets are a bit of an afterthought product for Hershey these days, I don’t expect it’s something they spend much time considering.

      I think the discontinuation of Hershey-Ets (as an all-year-round offering) and Kissables is simply attributed to profit margins and sales. That’s almost always what it comes down to. And for Hershey, they could make more money with… Oh, another Reese’s bar (Whipped, Nutrageous, Fast Break, etc) than they could with Kissables or whatever else they discontinued. It’s just business. They’re trying to make money and they make these decisions, guided by that principle.

      As for the origins of Reese’s Pieces somehow using the Hershey-Ets equipment? Well, I don’t think that’s a stretch. Hershey-Ets were still in seasonal (and possibly private label) production and distribution at the time, so the equipment wasn’t sitting anywhere unused. It was operational on a factory floor.

      Also, the peanut-filled Hershey-Ets you recall DID exist, but I’m reasonably sure they never utilized the Hershey-Ets brand name. I have a photo or an example of one of the wrappers somewhere (which I can’t find at the moment) but I blieve they were simply branded with the Hershey name and “candy coated, chocolate-covered peanuts” or some such. If I can find the image, I’ll swing back around to show you.

  2. Bob Stambaugh says:

    Jason,
    Thanks for your nice reply. There are others who have posted about ‘Hershey-ets’ who have commented on the taste/flavor/mouth feel change. I believe it was about 5-7 years ago. In Hershey’s probable desire to cut costs, there was a detectable change in the formula for many of us for whatever reason…And yes we are getting older.
    Thanks,
    Bob

  3. Connie S Baldwin says:

    Can a person order the reecespieceswithpeanuts anymore?i can not have chocolate. And these are my favorite then places stopped carring them ..

    • Jason Liebig says:

      Connie,

      I don’t think so. You might find someone selling them on Amazon or Ebay, but the last few times I saw them were at my local Walgreens, and I think they haven’t had them in stock for a month or two. My current guess is that they were a limited run release and that run has ended.

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