Picture of Harry Burnett Reese

Harry Burnett “H.B.” Reese

Class of 2009

Harry Burnett “H.B.” Reese was born May 24, 1879, in Frosty Hill, PA. He lived there with his family until he married Blanche Edna in 1900. He and his wife had 16 children. In 1917, he took a job at one of Milton Hershey’s dairy farms, where he was inspired to develop his own confections. The first products H.B. produced were Johnny and Lizzie bars, made with Hershey chocolate. He set up the H.B. Reese Candy Co. in the 1920s, and soon after the most famous of his candy concoctions was invented — Peanut Butter Cups. Although Reese Candy and Hershey Chocolate Co. were both located in Hershey, PA, the two were never competitors. Reese Candy was one of Hershey’s biggest customers, and Milton and H.B. struck up a friendship when H.B. was still employed at Hershey. During World War II, H.B. decided to focus on his most popular candy, the Peanut Butter Cup, because of the rising cost of sugar. During the 1940s and 1950s, the product’s success grew. In 1957, a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing plant opened to meet growing demand. H.B.’s six sons all worked with him and he planned for them to take over the business. His daughters also worked at the plant while they were growing up. H.B. did not live to see the completion of the new plant. He died May 16, 1956, in Florida. In 1963, his six sons sold the H.B. Reese Candy Co. to the The Hershey Co. Hershey has since expanded the brand, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup remains one of the company’s best-selling items.