Dead Caterpillar


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Are Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Smaller? An Investigative Journalism Piece

Saturday, Jun 18th, 2011

I have long suspected that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups have gotten smaller. As a wee-lad, it took as much as three whole bites to finish a cup. Now one bite feels all too natural, and I really have to go out of my way to experience a Reese’s Cup in two bites. To be fair I got bigger and that might account for their getting smaller.

Still I’ve never been suspicious of other popular chocolate brands like Snickers or Hershey’s, only Reese’s. It’s really been a longstanding mystery. One I contemplate every time I finish a pack of peanut butter cups. Somehow I always feel there should be more in there.

Last night, I decided to investigate the matter of the mysteriously shrinking peanut butter cups. Like anyone with a degree in journalism would do, I Googled it. What I found was both horrifying and shocking. In a word … horri-shocking.

Turns out the nefarious Hershey Foods Corporation [1] has been duping consumers for years. The cup size has changed, yet we’re paying the same price.

The Evidence

Exhibit A.

The above image is of a Reese’s wrapper purchased in 2003. Note the old Reese’s tagline, “There’s No Wrong Way To Eat A Reese’s.” Also note, utilizing my advanced image manipulation skills, I’ve circled the net weight in ounces and grams.

Exhibit B.

smaller reese's peanut butter cup

The above image is of a Reese’s wrapper purchased more recently, featuring the new orange swirl design and the current tagline “Get Lost In A Reese’s.”

If you compare the net weight with the wrapper from 03, you’ll see that there’s a three gram difference. Less carbs, less fat and less protein. 20 calories less.

So now you know, the peanut butter cups are smaller. As if Mini Reese’s and Reese’s Pieces weren’t insulting enough. Soon the same wisecrack that came up with the “fun” size will have the idea of selling powdered Reese’s. But we’re Americans I say, not Chinamen. Sell us bigger things, diametrically proportionate to our waistlines.

In case I win a Pulitzer for this groundbreaking investigative piece, I’d like to cover all my ground here and attribute the images. I found the images via Google on the website of a candy enthusiast who, for whatever reason, has scanned in the wrappers of every candy he has eaten in the last ten years. He also has a blog about candy wrappers. Not about candy, exclusively candy wrappers. I guess there’s a niche for everything these days.

1/27/12 Update – It looks like I spoke to soon.

  1. [1] In recent years, the Hershey Foods Corporation was renamed to The Hershey Company which some clever lawyers and brand marketers deemed less nefarious-sounding.

62 Responses to “Are Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Smaller? An Investigative Journalism Piece”

  1. Grrrrr! says:

    It’s 2011. I just bought a package of Halloween candy that had individual Reese’s as one of the candies. In past years they’ve been the sames size, or slightly smaller, than the normal two packaged Reese’s. However, this year they are PUNY!!! They are the size of a 50 cent piece! I couldn’t believe it! The bag of chocolates cost me over $15.00 at Party City. …Times are changing. Have you looked at tuna, orange juice, or a number of grocery items lately? Same size container, fewer ounces… SAME price. Everything is getting smaller but we’re paying the same amount of money – sometimes MORE. Inflation SUCKS!!!!!

    • Angry Bunny says:

      Thank you for posting this. I too recently saw the PUNY little cups and couldn’t believe my eyes. Your posting confirmed that I wasn’t crazy. I’m mad! I want my full sized chocolate and peanut butter heaven.

      • PayingMoreForLessDaily says:

        The individually wrapped, “full size” cups are now .55 ounces. I would bet that a “fun size” cup from the late 70′s would be about the same size. Long live the bean-counters!

        • hexxuss says:

          Keep in mind that the wrapper size has stayed the same in the multi-packs that have the .55 oz cups too. Just opened one tonight & was astounded to see how small they were – they take up 3/4 of the paper bottom when they used to touch the entire edge. Nice how they didn’t shrink the wrapper to fit too.

      • Sikkz says:

        The Individual Cups went from 21g to 15g

  2. Kathy Maas says:

    So glad to see others felt the same way, we’ve been discussing how poor the candy was this year. The taste is so not the same and it’s ultra small. I’d rather have Seee’s candies. Taste that and you’ll never want a Reeses again! C’mon Reeses, you can do better!

  3. Lucky Mango says:

    Loved your piece on RPBC, was wondering if you were able to find images from an ’80 package?

  4. [...] to which we have a right. The blog Dead Caterpillar has done the research and has proved that, yes, Reese’s Cups, over the past ten years, have gotten significantly smaller. The [...]

  5. SuMMeRFLi says:

    Thank you for posting this tragedy! I bought Reese’s Cups today, I was craving them. As I opened the package and unwrapped the brown goodness, I unveiled something munchkin-like. Truly, I thought I was going nuts. First, I thought maybe these peanut butter yummies seem much smaller because of my affection for them since I was a kid. But, reality set in … I damn well know I had many Reese’s Cups since my adolescence. Devastation set in. Everything is becoming far more clear now. No wonder I can’t figure out where all my money is going and I’m more broke than I’ve ever been in my life. Companies are screwing us! I KNEW I wasn’t crazy when I picked up that Fruit Loops box and it seemed half the size than I’m used to. We should be warned on the boxes about this and notified that the normal size has been reduced! Why can’t some smart-ass attorney start some class action law suit about this! It’s an outrage!!!! Looks like Capitalism has no ethical standards.

  6. gdottie says:

    Ok. FIRST they not only have made the cups SMALLER…BUT…Only a few months ago you got 8 cups in a package for $1. Frequently on sale for that, but even when not about 1.25. THEN they cut the package to 6 cups for the SAME price, but added the new 12 cup long package for 1.78 Walmart. STILL….the cups are tiny!! Might as well just buy the store brand miniature cups. They used to be a decent buy for the price. I just bought my LAST Reese’s package. Screwing people over to increase profit when times are rough is just plain evil. Leave my chocolate only….or someone is going to get hurt.

  7. christina says:

    There are many products that have been made smaller, like wagon wheels and ice-cream bars, and there are hardly any chips in a bag. It’s sad the way we are getting ripped off. Take for instance Oreo Cookies. A several years back they decreased the amount of icing that was in the middle, then a couple of years later they come out with “double stuffed” Oreos hoping that we will all think that we are getting something extra special. They have the same amount of icing that they did originally! They must think that we as consumers are all stupid.

  8. Tim Adams says:

    Yes, everything from a half-gallon of ice cream (now 1.5 quarts in a package designed to look big) to candy is being quietly and deceptively downsized. I think most people would rather pay more and get the size of product they’re expecting. I know I would.

  9. Jessica says:

    I have a wrapper from the 80′s, I think its from ’87 or ’88. They used to be 1.8 ounces or 51.03 grams on that wrapper.

  10. Micky says:

    Yea they are deceiving us all the way around, i just paid for a “LARGE SIZE” reese’s with 3 cups in it and it was 59g barely larger than the original size package. so they make the original smaller and you pay mor than they start selling you a “Large Size” for even more money and its the size you normally would have bought.
    Shame on you greedy corporate swindlers.

  11. Mapandya says:

    I often think on the same issues! The 2003 wrapper was after a size reduction in cup size also. I distinctly remember opening a cup wrapper and thinking, “Wow…they shrank these things! That stinks!”. Today, I opened a cup, observed an obvious and abhorrent size difference, and the same thought crossed my mind. The next thing to research…”King Size.” A king size Hershey bar is NOT what it used to be! Manufacturers do the opposite with women’s sizes…making larger clothes and telling women they’re only a size 4!

  12. Da Beast says:

    ok so im from canada and was thinking the samething the pack i just ate while reading this article has three small cups with a weight of 46 grams and the pics were a pack of TWO cups weighing in at 46 grams smaller cups but more and same weight THANK YOU THAT IS ALL

  13. Patrick says:

    I found this post while eating a reese’s researching that very question. My wrapper says .55oz, 15g. Got it in a 12 pack from walmart. *sigh*

  14. mike says:

    Reese’s cups used to be sold singly, wrapped in coated paper. I used to sell them for 5 cents each from 1968-1972. The cup size was 1 oz then. After a large temporary sugar price spike in 1974, the cups shrank to 3/4 oz.

  15. Dave says:

    Well, I just opened a single wrapped Reeses Cup that someone put out at work to celebrate Halloween. It is 0.75oz (21g)!!
    I feel kinda lucky :)

  16. Tanya says:

    I just opened a 3 pack of Reese peanut butter cups – October 19, 2012. 3 cups are 46 g… So looking back at those photos where 2 cups were 45 g then 42 g this new size of 3 = 46 g is PATHETIC. But maybe it’s in part because we as consumers are so concerned about the amount of calories in a portion… so if they make the portions smaller the perception is there is now less fat and calories in what I’m eating. Yet again, either they think we are stupid, or we truly are :)

  17. chad says:

    you guys are still lucky im in london, uk here just bought 3 pack and total is 51g for all three! seriously and its 70p so thats like over a dollar i would say… :(

    • Steve says:

      You’re lucky in London then, becasue its on its way to $2 in Canada and its 40g for 3 here. The cup is size has gotten ridiculously small.

  18. Mark says:

    I’m from Canada and I just bought a 3-pack of Reese peanut butter cups (3 cups = 46 grams) . I have to agree with HEXXUSS above… The cup size is 3/4 the width of the paper carton inside the wrapper when before the cup size used to be as wide at the top op the cup as the paper carton was. THIS IS ABSURD. This is truly a disappointment and I will not be buying this product again.

    SCREW YOU HERSHEY. Quit cutting down the portion sizes…

  19. Lindsey in AL says:

    So glad Mike the 60-70s candy seller chimed in! My mom (born in 1956) has been saying for years that the cups were so much bigger when she was a kid. Now I can say there’s actually more word of mouth evidence to back her up. I also bought her one of the giant 1 pound double packs for Christmas so I can tell her I had them shipped from the past ;)

  20. JOE IN NY says:

    I have recently noticed that the amount of chocolate seems to have dwindled, and the amount of peanut butter filling seems to have increased. Anyone else think this? I noticed they did not taste the same as I remembered, and breaking one in have it looks obvious to me.

  21. Kristen says:

    1.8 ounces in the 1980′s. We’re totally ripped off now.

  22. Kristen says:

    I do feel a little better reading this. I thought I was just a fat ass who craved more candy than the average person. Here I just crave the same amount I’m used to, they’re just playing mind games with us. I’d boycott it if I wasn’t so damn addicted to chocolate. Damn you candy companies and your ultra addictive chocolaty treats calling my name like the sirens song! How can I resist you? I can not ( .. )

  23. Mr. Reese's says:

    I’m so glad I’m not alone! When I opened up the package today and saw this Reese’s PB cup, I said to myself I have GOT to check in to this size. I’m so glad this investigative piece was done. After many years of dedicated RPB cup popping, we deserve more than a shrunk product. This looks like it has class action law suit written all over it!

  24. Brian in Montreal says:

    I’m with Mark, as per above. That 3-pack @ 46 grams was a big let down today that landed me here. Shame on you Hershey!

  25. Cindy says:

    After buying junk food for the rest of the family, I decided to buy the 12-pack for me and not share (my favorite candy from childhood). LOL! Man! These ARE small. So small, I also had to find out what’s going on. Mike, I could have been one of your customers…I stopped everyday on way home from school to buy a RPBC. A double pack if I was rich enough and had a dime.
    And Mapandya, I caught on a long time ago, clothing sizes changed. I started buying used 80′s jeans from Ebay ’cause I know what fits me!

  26. DAn says:

    Today I purchased a 3-pack in Toronto, Ontario. Net weight – 46g for THREE CUPS! The madness continues!

  27. Ana says:

    Ana in Vancouver Canada here -
    Today I got the craving. Bought a three pack and excitedly delved into the peanut buttery goodness….But hold the phone! As the first cup fell out of the package and into my hand I was shocked at it’s tiny nature! What is this, I thought to myself? Have I gotten bigger or has the pb cup gotten smaller?
    I too had to investigate. Google. This piece. My madness is validated. I checked the package and discovered 46 Grams for THREE cups!
    This cannot be allowed!! Let’s band together and write a petition in protest to Hersheys. Anyone?

  28. amy says:

    So today a marketer comes in and brings a six pack of the snack size reeses. I get so excited cause I eat the edges then the top then the bottom. Well I unwrap it and long and behold it is a bite size. I tried to eat just the sides like I normally do, but almost ate my finger. Geez, I just wanted a reese cup. At least the reese eggs still taste good and are not that small.

  29. Gregg says:

    It has apparently worsened since you blew the Reeses’s-gate story wide-open: I just bought a king-size pack, with four cups. At 2.8 ounces, it’s .7 ounces per cup, for a two-cup-pack equivalence of only 1.4 ounces.

    At this rate, I expect a cup to be a speck unidentifiable to the nake eye by 2048.

  30. Tammi says:

    It’s a sad sad day when you realize that not only is the world getting crazier by the day, and more greedy, and more expensive, and your freedoms seem to be fewer as well…. but to come to find out that my all-time favorite treat in all the world has been included in the corporate greed party and been shrunk is just a travesty!

    I too scoured the net looking for wrappers to compare old to new and found one posted from 1981 which showed 1.6 oz. or net weight of 45.36g. I’m without words… though I have many choice words in my head for the greedy b@stards that decided to do this, I’ll just hold my tongue on here and boycott in my own way, by never buying another Reese’s PB Cup… ever. I know, it’s a long shot, but dammit I’m mad and there are plenty of other delectable treats out there to munch on that haven’t shrunk!

    I also plan on writing to them and letting them know I’m ticked off. I encourage everyone to do the same… stop buying them, write to them, start a Facebook Page for jilted PB Cup lovers, something. With enough voices these days, ANYthing is possible. Let’s let them know that this is NOT OK! Let’s go viral!

    WE WANT OUR BIG PB CUPS BACK YOU GREEDY SOB’S!! >:-|

  31. Sen says:

    I just hopped online to double-check I’m not crazy — found this post — then sent an email to Hershey’s swearing I’ll never buy another RBPC. You can do it too!
    https://www.thehersheycompany.com/contact-us.aspx

  32. Kelly says:

    Just bought a pack (CDN) and the cup size made me look this up. The current package I have is 46g for 3 cups. The link to that guy Mike’s page above shows a CDN wrapper from 2003 with 52g. So, we’re down 6g and the price is up a dime. How do we communicate this to Hersey/Reese?

  33. Lori says:

    According to Wikipedia the sizes vary based on which package you buy:
    In the United States, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups typically come in two-, four-, and eight-packs in distinctive orange packaging, set on thin but rigid paperboard trays. The “Classic” two-pack is a .75 oz. cup, the “King Size” four-pack is a .70 oz. cup and the “Lunch” eight-pack is a .55 oz. cup. “Large Size” packs of three .70 oz. cups are also available.

  34. My friend posted on facebook that the CUPS were smaller and has used your article as confirmation. I too was dooped by Hersey. I don’t eat enough Cups for the difference to be felt and since the change haven’t been robbed enough to deserve a whole cup but whatever…LOL LOL

  35. Brian says:

    I knew my Reeses looked small just today. Funny there is a thread about this problem. I think the problem is global. More and more companies are not really increasing the price of candy, but the portion size is getting smaller. We think were paying for the same thing but were actually paying for less.

  36. GT says:

    Well, they did it again. They are now so small they look like bag candy. The eight pack used to be a good value. Not so anymore as 1 cup looks ridiculously small. If they had just raised the price I would have paid it but now I won’t be buying. So long pb cups.

  37. J says:

    YEP! Just discovered today that the shrink-ray has hit these things in a major way. And yet they still use the same size packaging as always–how insulting! I’d rather them just raise the price than shrink these things down to such a laughably small (and unsatisfying) size. Again: It’s insulting and deceptive.

  38. Roger says:

    I remember in the 60′s they went from singles to doubles, but the doubles were smaller. I also remember them shrinking the chocolate And making the whole thing shorter. Less chocolate, Less PB, Less chocolate, Less PB. a Reeses Cup death spiral to oblivion.

    It seems like in the Far Distant Past, with a greater percentage of chocolate, it offset the almost too sweet, sweetness of the filling.

    Damn those Harvard Business School bean counters. They happily squeeze every little bit of happiness out of life to add a penny’s profit, to a Dead, Nerveless, Soulless Corporation.

  39. Ray says:

    Clearly like many folks on here, went looking for answers after biting into a very dinky Reeses. I don’t even think it tasted the same because it’s so small now.

    The package said .55oz for 1 cup. Now I’m sitting here completely unsatisfied. Ugh…

    • Cahy says:

      I use to eatReese’s PB cups all the time but overdid it and quit eating them for quite a while. Bought one yesterday and couldn’t finish it. It has lost much of the peanut butter and chocolate flavor sand just tasted like eating a spoonful of sugar! I believe they changed the recipe.

      • Chris says:

        I believe they most certainly did change the recipe. All I taste is chemicals. When I was a kid, reeses were prized possessions … the crown jewels of my goodie or Halloween bag. I’d do anything for a reeses.

        But they no longer have that power over me.

        • Dana says:

          Yes, you are right. Somewhere around the 90′s I started feeling a sugary crystallized sounding crunch in the peanut butter somehow. It used to absolutely melt all over your mouth. Plus it seems that the chocolate is harder or something and more concentrated around the edges. The whole things has just seemingly changed and it is not the yummy, melt in your mouth prized candy that it once was when I was growing up in the 80′s. SAD.

  40. Rocky says:

    CANDY IS FOR CHILDREN, NOT FOR HYPER CRITICAL FAT SAD ADULTS COMPLAINING ON A FORUM.

    j/k im sad too that the cups are little :( and fat

  41. Keith Buist says:

    I think God is sad about this, too. “You shall not steal.” A 16th century catechism says this about the 8th commandment:

    Q. What does God forbid
    in the eighth commandment?
    A. God forbids not only outright theft and robbery,
    punishable by law.
    But in God’s sight theft also includes
    all scheming and swindling
    in order to get our neighbor’s goods for ourselves,
    whether by force or means that appear legitimate,
    such as
    inaccurate measurements of weight, size, or volume;
    fraudulent merchandising;
    counterfeit money;
    excessive interest;
    or any other means forbidden by God.
    In addition God forbids all greed
    and pointless squandering of his gifts.

    That about covers it. The catechism then goes on – in brilliant fashion – to turn the “thou shalt not” into a positive…

    Q. What does God require of you
    in this commandment?
    A. That I do whatever I can
    for my neighbor’s good,
    that I treat others
    as I would like them to treat me,
    and that I work faithfully
    so that I may share with those in need.
    (Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 110-111)

  42. ole trav says:

    The weasel that got the bonus for shrinking reeses and showing there boss how much more profit they make….needs to be Fired for the hollidays

  43. suicideperkies says:

    I just bought a three pack here in Toronto… I forget the price but I won’t for the rest of my life forget how damn small they were! I used to love the things when I was a kid – I even wanted to work in the factory (ah, stupid kid dreams) – and now it seems I have to buy the ‘king size’ or whatever to get cups of a reasonable size! It just seems that in this age of the Baconator we’re moving backwards with candy.

    Two and a half years later this article still resonates with people. I wonder if you get more cups for your money buying the smashed up ones at Menchie’s – as in, just fill your yogurt cup with them, no yogurt?

    • Chris says:

      I’ve found a suitable replacement: peanut butter cups at Trader Joes. They have dark chocolate/regular and actually taste like real peanut butter and chocolate.

  44. Dave says:

    I just bought a pack today and I barely wanted to finish them. Are they using powdered peanut butter now?

  45. Jordan says:

    Just picked up a ‘king size’ pack today… 4 cups, 62g. Compared to the 2003 45g 2 cup package that is 22.5g to 15.5g per cup, a third smaller!

  46. Very interested in how long it took me to question the size of the Reese’s. As did another poster, I called the regular sized candy the 5 cent size. (I’ll be 70 soon). The old ones could substitute for lunch if necessary. Now it hardly satisfies one’s craving. Still my favorite–the combination is majical .

  47. This is a travesty! We must all boycott Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups! We need bigger cups!!

  48. Tank Weathers says:

    The Reeses’ peanut butter cups I just bought are only .55 OZ (15 grams) per single cup. I feel I was intentionally cheated as is the rest if the public. You always hear about a new larger size but never hear when you get less for your money. Boycott Hershey.

  49. I to have noticed the smaller size in the cups. I will also not buy them any more. Also the York Mint patty, which I have eaten since a kid, is made in Mexico so I will not buy them any more. Bring the work force back to the USA.

  50. I agree with Richard ( My first name too ), lets boycott.

  51. A Sad Reese's Lover says:

    Honestly, I haven’t bought a Reese’s in years because I’ve always relied on free candy from Halloween and my child’s Halloween loot to sustain me throughout the year. Well, I bought a few “King” size and was sorely disappointed.

  52. Jason Nesquik says:

    Similar behavior by the aristocrats cost them their lives in the French Revolution.

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