Production of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, 1935. (Via the Hershey Community Archives)

The inventor of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup’s sticky road to success

Feel like you’re behind the curve? H.B. Reese didn’t invent his candy namesake until he was nearly 50.

Say “Muddy Creek Forks” five times fast

Harry Burnett Reese was born in 1879 (just before the invention of the Candy Corn) on a dairy farm near Muddy Creek Forks, Pennsylvania. From the time he was young, Reese set out to make his fortune, but nothing seemed to stick.

Then, at 38 he read a curious job ad from Milton S. Hershey

Hershey, already a successful chocolatier of the Hershey Chocolate Company, was looking for someone to manage one of his dairy farms. It seemed like Reese had finally gotten his big break. Reese worked for Hershey for several years, learning the ins-and-outs of the chocolate business.

“That’s when he invented the Reese’s Cup and lived happily ever after, right?”

Wrong. The R&R Candy Company Reese founded raised “today’s equivalent of $290,000”… and folded within a year. Reese was forced to take three jobs to support his family: one at a paper mill, one as a butcher, and a third canning vegetables. A year later, he returned to The Hershey Company to work in the shipping department and began experimenting once again with making candy in his basement.

This time, it worked

In 1923, after two years of toiling, Reese was finally able to quit his day job at Hershey and incorporate the H.B. Reese Candy Company. Five years and six more children later, Reese invented his namesake, “Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups” at the age of 49.

10th time’s the charm, eh?

This isn’t to say you should gamble your 16 children’s future (yes, that was the final tally) on the off-chance you’ll strike it rich on the two most complementary ingredients in the history of candy-kind. It’s just to say you have time; time to fail and time to learn and time to try again.

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FLS+ helps teams and individauls flex their mental muscles through collaborative improvisation and play. Learn more at flsplus.com!