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Archive for the ‘Reese Candy Company’ Category

HersheyArchives@30-30: Hershey Chocolate-the Great American Chocolate Bar

Remember your first Hershey Bar? Print advertisement, 1980

Remember your first Hershey Bar? Print advertisement, 1980


It is an advertising industry legend that Hershey Chocolate did not advertise. The advertising industry marveled at Hershey’s success without the use of advertising. During the company’s first fifty years, Hershey Chocolate succeeded without media advertising because it had few competitors in the solid chocolate confectionery market.


Hershey Chocolate offered a variety of promotional displays to stores to help them promote Hershey products. ca1936

Hershey Chocolate offered a variety of promotional displays to stores to help them promote Hershey products. ca1936



Window display, 1930-1932

Window display, 1930-1932











The image of Hershey as a company that succeeded without advertising stretches the truth.  It is true that Hershey did not use media advertising (newspaper ads, radio, television) until 1970. However, Hershey did make extensive use of trade and point of purchasing advertisements throughout its history.  Unlike most companies that directed advertising dollars to consumers as well as customers, Hershey concentrated all its advertising budget towards the trade, placing ads in trade publications, offering cut sheets to customers to use in their own newspaper ads and promoting its products with shelf talkers and window displays.


In the 1960s, market changes and the growth of the Mars Candy Company under Forrest Mars challenged Hershey’s control of the market. During the 1960s, Mars steadily gained market share and Hershey realized that it would have to change how it conducted business.


It was not a simple matter to begin media and print advertising. Hershey first needed to build the infrastructure that would enable them to develop a modern marketing program and support an advertising campaign.  That took several years.


Jack Dowd, hired in 1965 to help Hershey establish its first marketing department, recalled in his 1991 oral history interview, the chocolate company’s reluctance to move towards implementing a media advertising campaign, in spite of the company’s trend toward losing market share.


Incidentally, my interview, the first day I met a number of people, including Harold Mohler [Hershey Chocolate Corporation president].  He said, “They seem to like you here, but a couple of things you should know about Hershey.  One is, we don’t advertise.”

I said, “I’m vividly aware of that.  Everybody in marketing is aware of that.  But I have a couple of hypotheses about your company because I’ve done a lot of reading about it, and if they’re true, you’re going to be advertising.”

He said, “What are they?”

I said, “I think your share of market has been declining.”

And he said, “Yes, it has.”

I said, “I think your new products are not as successful as your old products.”

He said, “That’s true.  They’re not.” 

And I said, “I don’t think that your products are as popular with children as they are with adults.”

And he said, “That’s true.” 

And I said, “Given those three, you’re going to start to advertise.” 

He said, “Well, we haven’t decided yet.”


It was not until 1969 that the company was ready to launch a national media advertising campaign.


When Hershey Foods Corporation began the process of searching for an advertising agency, it was particularly interested in the agency’s skills in producing television ads. After interviewing six firms, Hershey hired Ogilvy and Mather, who were based in New York City.


In sharing the news of hiring Ogilvy & Mather with their employees, Hershey noted the growing competition for shelf space in the grocery store, the changing demographics of the country’s population with the emergence of the baby boom generation and the need to connect with a more youthful audience. The July 21, 1969 memo stated:


With the competition getting keener for the consumers sweet tooth – and the fact that almost half of the people in the United States today are under 25 years of age, we felt it prudent to introduce this marketing tool to acquaint this younger generation with our items and to maintain our position with the over 25 group.


Hershey selected three brands with which to test the advertising waters: Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and Hershey’s Instant, a milk chocolate powder. At first tests were done in seven cities for several months before launching a national campaign in September, 1970.


Hershey Foods Corporation used both television and print media ads to promote its products. 1980

Hershey Foods Corporation used both television and print media ads to promote its products. 1980


Ogilvy & Mather’s creative director for the Hershey Milk Chocolate team was Billings Fuess.  He developed the “Hershey. The Great American Chocolate Bar” ad campaign.


Billings Fuess was inspired by his love of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, believing that it was superior to European milk chocolate. He explained his reasoning and inspiration in a 2010 oral history interview.:


I had the idea for “The Great American Chocolate Bar” because I knew there was a lot of wonderful history behind Hershey.  I also liked Hershey bars and they were a heck of a lot better than their competition from Switzerland.  And I wanted to give them a dig and say the great AMERICAN chocolate bar.


Storyboard for Hershey's Milk Chocolate commercial, "Montage." 5/1970

Storyboard for Hershey’s Milk Chocolate commercial, “Montage.” 5/1970


Along with the slogan, Fuess also developed the concept for the first television commercials.  He wanted the commercials to express the personal relationships nurtured by the shared enjoyment of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate.  His strategy was to “build upon the marvelous reminisces of people and what the Hershey bar means to most people and the fact that it’s American and it tastes so good and there’s something wondrous about a little child eating it and sharing it with his parents . . . The idea of a father with his son on his shoulders and the son tears open the Hershey bar, eats some and give some to his father as he’s walking down the street.”


The Great American Chocolate Bar campaign served the company well. It continued to serve as the basis of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate marketing from 1970 until 1994.



HersheyArchives@30-24: Made in Hershey, So It Must Be Good: H.B. Reese Candy Company

While most confectionery companies regard other candy-making businesses as their competitor, Milton Hershey was different.  Hershey Chocolate limited its definition of a confectionery competitor to those businesses that produced solid chocolate bars. In fact, Hershey Chocolate sold chocolate to a wide range of companies manufacturing enrobed, or chocolate-coated, candy.


Harry Burnett “H.B.”Reese, a one-time employee of the Hershey Chocolate factory shipping department, was inspired by Milton Hershey’s success and decided to start his own candy business.


In 1921, H.B. Reese began making candies in the basement of his home at 18 E. Areba Avenue in Hershey. Reese produced a wide range of confectionery products. During the company’s first 20 years, the product line featured a variety of candies made and sold by weight. Most of the candies consisted of different centers that were hand-dipped in chocolate. H.B. Reese’s son, Ralph remembered:


We used Hershey’s chocolate.  I guess we were a nuisance for a while, buying fifty pounds at a time.  But I remember the little express wagon I used for hauling papers.  [I’d] go down to the [Hershey Chocolate] office and buy fifty pounds of chocolate, haul it back to the house.


Day Book; H.B. Reese Candy Company, ingredients purchased. 1929

Day Book; H.B. Reese Candy Company, ingredients purchased. 1929


The Archives holds a number of ledgers related to the early years of the H.B. Reese Candy Company. The index page of a 1929 ledger lists a variety of ingredients, including cocoanut (coconut), peanuts, butter, raisins, cherry pieces, dates and chocolate. An early employee, Rena Renshaw recalled in a 1993 oral history interview:


I think [until] ’41 they made the assortment, maybe about twenty different kinds, sixteen to twenty different kinds of candy.  And after the war came along, of course, they couldn’t get the coconuts and some of the sugar and butter…[all of]the products that he used in the different kinds of candy. 


Time Book; H.B. Reese Candy Company. 1932

Time Book; H.B. Reese Candy Company. 1932


For many years the number of employees remained small. Renshaw started working for the H.B. Reese Candy Company on September 1, 1926. She remembered:


I got paid twenty cents an hour for the first two weeks, and the next raise we got was twenty-five, about two weeks or so later. 


By 1932, she was making 30 cents an hour coating candy centers with chocolate.


H.B. Reese Candy Company; pounds of beans picked. July-August 1933.

H.B. Reese Candy Company; pounds of beans picked. July-August 1933


H.B. Reese’s path to success was not direct. The 1930s were filled with financial ups and downs. In summer months, when it was too hot to work with chocolate, Reese had his employees can beans and tomatoes that he had grown to generate income. Renshaw recalled her summer work at the factory:

I worked in the canning.  We snipped beans and we’d put labels on cans. That was when it was too warm and we didn’t work in the chocolate.  That they did down in the basement in the summertime.  Well, of course, when the beans came in, they had to can the beans.  We put the labels on the cans by hand. Well, then they canned tomatoes, too. Tomatoes and beans.  That was only in the summertime when it was hot. Didn’t have air-conditioning then, so it was too hot to make candy.


By the end of the 1930s, the H.B. Reese Candy Company was emerging as a successful candy company. One of the most popular items in its product line was the peanut butter cup. When sugar rationing was imposed during World War II, H.B. Reese made the decision to eliminate every item in the product line except for the peanut butter cup. The peanut butter filling took less sugar than most of the other Reese candy items and peanuts were readily available from southern states.


Customer Sales Brochure, H.B. Reese Candy Company. ca1950

Customer Sales Brochure, H.B. Reese Candy Company. ca1950


After the war, Reese continued to build his company based on the success of a single product: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Instead of selling the product by weight, peanut butter cups were packaged for retail sale. And every package carried the slogan: “Made in Chocolate Town, So They Must Be Good.”