Kitchn Love Letters

In Defense of Reese’s Pieces

published Oct 31, 2022
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Hand holding a box of Reese's Pieces candy with store shelf in background.
Credit: Sheila Fitzgerald / Shutterstock

Until about a week ago I had no idea that Reese’s Pieces were a divisive candy. I was innocently sitting in a team meeting here at Kitchn where each staffer was asked about their favorite Halloween candy when the jabs started. Pretty much everyone seemed to agree that Pieces didn’t deserve to bear the revered Reese’s name. 

As we went around the Zoom room it was clear that I was in a group of Reese’s peanut butter cup stans (and Reese’s pumpkins in particular seemed to be a fan favorite). Would I have the courage to stick up for the much-maligned peanut butter buttons? 

When it was my turn, I came off of mute, took a deep breath, and admitted that I liked Reese’s Pieces. If everyone else hadn’t been muted I suspect I would have heard more than a few gasps. 

As I attempted to defend my choice on camera, I uttered, “I mean, what about E.T.?” The movie is a core memory for me and is the first place I saw Reese’s Pieces. What were these magical M&Ms? I needed to find out. When I tried them, I enjoyed that they were something different: the shell was thinner than M&Ms and the candies had a nice lozenge shape that felt good in my hand. The peanut butter filling was a welcome change from chocolate (and I love chocolate). 

And then my childhood friend Hope shared her favorite way to eat them: mixed with warm movie popcorn. Yes! The heat of the popcorn warmed the peanut butter filling slightly and offset the saltiness of the “butter.” What a great combo. 

At a certain point I noticed that I didn’t see Reese’s Pieces as much in the stores. Had they fallen out of favor? Had all the ’80s kids grown up and forsaken them? I started to feel a bit sorry for the little candy. And then, slowly but surely, I saw them coming back. They popped up embedded into Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and miniaturized. I tried both of those brand extensions, but they weren’t quite right. Tucked inside the cups, both the peanut butter cups and the Pieces suffered. And I truly love pretty much any and everything in mini form, but the ratio of shell to filling in the mini Pieces was off. 

Luckily, that Halloween my son got some mini boxes of regular size Reese’s Pieces when he was out trick-or-treating. After he went to bed, I pawed through his candy (as all good parents do) and snagged a box. As I sat in front of the TV savoring them I suddenly had the urge to watch E.T. 

What I guess I’m trying to say is that despite your feelings about Reese’s Pieces, I hope that you, too, have core food memories that transport you back to a specific place in time when things were good, and easy, and sweet. 

Buy: Reese’s Pieces, $4.49

Do you have a favorite grocery you’re constantly defending? Tell us in the comments.