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Friday, October 19, 2007

Reese’s Pieces

They’re the candies that made E.T. famous: Reese’s Pieces. Little sweet nuggets of peanut flavored candy covered in a colorful shell. Loved across the universe, they were introduced in 1978, but didn’t break out as a widely-known candy until being featured as alien-bait in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in 1982.

The story is quite familiar to most movie and confectionery fans. Steven Spielberg approached M&Ms about doing a product placement (not a very common thing in those days) in his new movie about a child who adopts an abandoned alien. M&Ms turned down the project, so Spielberg went to his next choice, Hershey’s and the Hershey’s Kiss. Hershey’s wasn’t keen on that, but did offer up one of their new candies that they’d been trying to launch national since 1980, Reese’s Pieces. which look an awful lot like M&Ms! Sales improved drastically and the idea of product placement was cemented as a way to increase revenue in feature films and television series.

Are they a Halloween candy? Well, the movie takes place around Halloween and they do sport festive harvest colors.

While Reese’s Pieces may sport the Reese’s name, but they’re really not much like the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. except that they contain peanuts.

It’s a sweet, melty peanutty center covered in a crisp candy shell. They come in three

colors: orange, yellow and brown. They also come in an Easter version that has a pastel shell and is larger.

The center is made from a peanut powder of sorts, instead of a peanut butter. Much of the peanut oil has been removed, mostly because of a manufacturing problem with peanut oil. it’s a liquid a room temperature, so it tends to migrate out of peanut butter via osmosis when coated with lower-fat things like a sugar shell. (Some folks may notice that their Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups get a little shiny spot in the center of the shell when this happens.)

I find that Reese’s Pieces lack a big nutty punch. They taste like peanuts, but don’t have that real peanut taste that a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup has. They’re also really sweet and don’t have that little salty hit that most other peanut things like Payday Bars. RPBC and Pearson’s Nut Roll have. I’ve always noticed a bit of a floral note to them as well, that just doesn’t do anything for me.

I keep thinking I’ll like them, then I buy them and I’m disappointed. The Easter versions, with its thicker shell and more concentrated “peanut butter as cookie dough” flavor pleases me a lot more. I’m wondering as well if I’m imagining that the shells used to be more consistent. These seemed a little bumpier, a little less opaquely colored.

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