THIS SNACK SUCKS: Reese Hazelnut Creme
First, a bit of a programming note for this week:
Every now and again, Tina’s employers in the Real World go from their usual state of rewarding her hard work with praise and opportunity, to rewarding her hard work with additional crushing loads of hard work. While she is the type to do nothing more than square her shoulders, appraise the situation critically and then simply get the job done, I am the sort who panics and goes to pieces.
“But I’ll miss you! The cats will miss you!”
“Well, Mike, it is sort of my job. If I said to you that I missed you and you should stay home today, you wouldn’t just drop everything, would you?”
“I would think about it very hard.”
“Yes, and I’ll be thinking about you very hard too, sweets. See you tomorrow.”
So, to make a long story short, it might be a bit of a Mike-heavy week for you all. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a good time! We can stay up late and watch tee vee! We can watch those nerdy DVDs that are buried underneath the bootleg copies of The Duchess and Sense & Sensibility! And most importantly, we can have candy for dinner.
Sure, I appreciate all the incredibly tasty, and occasionally challenging, meals that Tina puts together for me on a daily basis. To be honest, there are few things as lush and enjoyable as being the indolent male beneficiary of a woman who works this hard on her food website, let me tell you. I am torn between pride and utter shame that in the space of 10 small months, Tina was able to put 10 large pounds on my frame with barely any effort. It’s as though my previous food-fearing, self-denying-but-still-reasonably-hard-drinking self was replaced with someone from a bizarre alternate reality.
Just like… me!
Hey everyone, it’s Evil Alternate Universe Captain Kirk Whose Only Distinguishing Feature Is Extreme Eye Make-Up Henceforce And Coloquially Known As Evil Kirk! Evil Kirk, to what do I owe the honor?
With… Tina away.. this seemed like the perfect opportunity to unveil my latest… DIABOLICAL… undertaking. Evil! Candy. From an alternate universe.
Ah, perfect! The only thing better than candy for dinner is evil candy, twisted treats that are a mis-shapen shadow of their true selves, torn from the grip of a monstrous mirror-image reality where the decision to manufacture these products was actually a good idea. For by what other means could candy that messes so fundamentally with its own core concepts spring forth? Some sort of mindless product development committee?
It can only be pure evil, and nothing else.
Take, for example:
Notice anything about this package? Anything… critically important?
Yes, that’s right. These are Reese Peanut Butter Cups that are made with something other than peanut butter. I don’t even know anyone who refers to Reese Peanut Butter Cups without explicitly saying, every time, “Reese Peanut Butter Cups.” That’s how successful they’ve been at branding their product: They compel people to utter a four-word phrase, when one would amply suffice. Only Starbucks has been more successful in prompting customers to spew ten times the necessary syllables to procure their items.
Think about the basic, fundamental insanity of this advertising concept:
Yes, that is a woman who loves peanut butter so much that she bought an entire jar of it (with a spoon) and is shoveling it into her mouth while she watches a horror movie. Logically, she is not hindered by morbid obesity, but is instead an adorably petite blonde — just like everyone who eats condiments by the jar. Meanwhile, the guy who is eating a gigantic, generic CHOCOLATE-brand chocolate bar — such as those freely available at any concession stand anywhere in the universe — is naturally an awkward, thick-rimmed nerd who jumps at the slightest shock.
Only through their common love of chocolate and peanut butter, a combination as unlikely as a nerd and perky peanut-butter shoveling blonde, are these two lovers are able to find each other. Their shy smiles and timid introductions are undeterred even by the horrifying posture and bizarre backlighting of the theatre concessionaire, and we as the audience are left with the unmistakable impression that two great things can go great together.
In other words, this is a really shitty commercial. I grew up in the 1980s, and they were not all like this: one need only look so far as the absolute genius of using TV-show animation to sell Transformers, or the Apple 1984 ad that presaged the snotty anti-establishment tone that pervades Apple advertising to this day, to see that even in that dorky time we had good commercials. But good God above, this was not among them — and it still sold the product.
That’s because Hershey was so successful in putting across the basic message of Reese Peanut Butter Cups — two good things that are better together — and then just beat into the ground for ten years or so. It didn’t really matter if the message was fresh, because it was only necessary to remind the audience that the candy itself was so good. A nudge, hilariously bad or not, is all it really takes.
So naturally, when one is seeking to expand into new opportunities, what should one do? Look at different ways of packaging this same taste experience? Explore gigantic single-sized portions, like the surprisingly-successful Kit Kat Chunk? Or perhaps innovate in an entirely new direction, by shattering the fundamental efforts of your branding for the last twenty years?
Hershey has decided for the latter. And it was a very bad idea.
I have actually decided against showing you the photographic evidence of the tasting process, because it depicts one totally untouched Hazelnut Cup, its half-eaten counterpart, and a heap of the mostly-chewed and the entirely-spit-out remains. There might actually be some left stuck in my teeth, and I cannot express to you how upset I am about that. I don’t want to suck it out, because I’ll have to taste it again; I don’t want to brush it out, because I can imagine how it will taste when conflated against mint. It’s a horrible situation, and frankly I’m getting emotional about even the thought of it.
Suffice to say, this has got to be the single worst candy I have ever picked up off of a shelf. And Tina has made me eat those off-brand Turkish chocolate bars from the Dollar Store, on more than one occasion, so I feel as though I can say this with authority:
Imagine biting through the familiar, non-threatening but capable Hershey chocolate, only to find that someone has packed your cup with some kind of grease that immediately coats your teeth and won’t let go. It has the flavor of old Nutella, but also an acrid awfulness that sits high on your mouth. Swallowing is a challenge, which does not feel like the ideal state for candy. It is, in truth, like they flavored lard with Frangelico.
Is there a level on which Hazelnut Reece Cups doesn’t betray its basic concept?
- It takes one great thing (chocolate) and one godforsaken thing (whitened resin in the flavor of glue and fermented nuts), and attempts to make them go together
- It attempts to present Hazelnut as merely another flavor of the same great combination always on offer, rather than some rancid mutant spin-off
- It puts a non-Reece Peanut Butter Cup in a Reece Peanut Butter Cup package, and then doesn’t turn out to be anything close to the same thing
- It’s even more fucking terrible than the commercial posted above, which is saying something
Assuming that you are a) adventurous enough to step outside of your normal candy preferences, and b) unfortunate enough to encounter the Reece Hazelnut Cups in your journeys, I cannot be more clear in my advice to steer clear.
THIS SNACK SUCKS, and no nerds will find love tonight.
Shame on you, Hershey.