Hershey simply unveiled a 3.4-pound Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup for Thanksgiving

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So much for serving an oversized Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup at your Thanksgiving celebration – unless you’re one of the lucky ones to get one early on.

The Hershey Co. HSY, -0.45%,
The candy and snack giant behind the Reese mugs and other goodies brand launched a 3.4-pound version of the peanut butter-and-chocolate favorite for the Thanksgiving holiday on Monday. But Hershey officials said its 3,000 run of Reese’s “cake” – yes, it was called that – sold out online in less than two hours (or an hour and 57 minutes, to be precise).

Priced at $ 44.99, the sweet treat is a gigantic proposition indeed, despite Hershey reps saying it should be broken up into 48 servings with 160 calories per slice. For those who prefer to do it on their own, it should be noted that the entire 9-inch diameter “cake” is equivalent to a dessert worth 7,680 calories.

Several factors played a role in the introduction of the oversized peanut butter jar, Hershey officials said. But the key to them is the fact that this Thanksgiving will bring some sort of return to normal holiday celebrations given the troubles the 2020 pandemic will bring.

“It feels like Thanksgiving is coming back in a big way,” said Allen Dark, senior brand manager at Reese’s.

Behold the PieCaken: Zac Young’s Thanksgiving themed creation features layers of pecan and pumpkin pie and spice cake

Courtesy Two Twelve Management

However, there has been a trend in recent years to push the boundaries in Thanksgiving desserts. Perhaps the best example is pastry chef Zac Young’s Thanksgiving-themed PieCaken – a layered cake-meets-cake dessert inspired by turducken, a holiday statement of excess that, as the name suggests, includes turkey, duck and Chicken combined.

Young’s dessert, featuring layers of pecan and pumpkin pie and seasoning pie with apple pie filling and cinnamon buttercream frosting, launched in 2015 and soon became a nationwide hit that can be shipped via the Goldbelly platform. Young won’t give exact numbers, but said he sells his Christmas cakes, which cost $ 99 apiece, by the tens of thousands and expects 2021 to be his biggest Thanksgiving ever.

Young added that he never wanted to know the calorie count of his over-the-top dessert. “Ignorance,” he said, “is bliss.”

Gobble, Gobble: Bridgewater Chocolate in Connecticut sells 4.5-pound chocolate turkeys, which can be Thanksgiving centerpieces.

Bridgewater chocolate

Boutique chocolatiers also got involved in the bigger Thanksgiving act. Li-Lac Chocolates, a New York-based company, has a chocolate turkey weighing about 14 pounds that it sells for $ 295. Bridgewater Chocolate, a Connecticut facility, has a 4.5-pound version for $ 180.95. “It’s a great centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table,” says Bridgewater on its website.

For Hershey, however, the story behind the big peanut butter jar extends beyond the Thanksgiving trend. It’s part of a bigger push to take Reese’s, a $ 3 billion-a-year brand, and make it even more ubiquitous, according to Hershey officials and the most popular candy store in America.

Hershey has added all sorts of Reese items over the past few years, including versions with pretzels and potato chips added to the peanut butter filling. There are also plus-size versions of the mugs already available, although the largest to date has been a one-pound package of two 8-ounce mugs, versus the weight of a standard 0.75-ounce mug.

With the demand for everything Reese has to offer, it might have been counter-intuitive to make the new 3.4 pound mug available in such a relatively small amount. However, Hershey officials found that mass production of such an item is not an easy task. They also said they wanted to gauge how much demand there really is for such an oversized mug.

“We can see the reaction and then see whether we want to scale in the future,” says Hershey spokeswoman Anna Lingeris.

Still, Hershey could follow a common business tactic known as scarcity marketing to create a buzz by restricting the availability of an item (and the company as a whole). When done right, it can be a very effective tool, said Craig Agranoff, a Florida-based marketer.

“You’re causing a stir,” he said.

The question now arises as to whether Hershey will take advantage of the excitement caused by the reintroduction of the oversized Reese’s at a later date. Lingeris, the Hershey spokeswoman, wouldn’t commit.

“It’s too early to say that,” she said, “but the response has been more than enormous.”

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