Better Living Through Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Recently, the lovely and talented Peg of Peg-O-Leg’s Ramblings invited several people to write about the same topic on the same day. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Naturally, I jumped right in (and in case you’re wondering — yes, if all the others jumped off a bridge, I probably would too). Peg’s rules were simple: we had to write a piece called “Better Living Through Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups” and post it at the appointed time. We also each had to focus on a different subject area, so, naturally, I chose fashion. I consider myself an expert in this topic because — and I swear I’m not exaggerating — I wear clothes every day. Even on weekends. Seriously.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups aren’t commonly used as clothing today, but they have been in the past. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, oversized peanut butter cups were often used in ballet costumes, as we can see in paintings from that period.

Edward Degas Ballet Scene painting, with two dancers wearing Reese's tutus.
Ballet Scene With Reese’s, Edward Degas et al., c. 1879

In 1944, the The Hershey Foods Corporation landed a lucrative contract to provide hats to the US Navy in an attempt to raise sailors’ spirits by furnishing them with chocolate-based headwear. The resulting Reese’s Peanut Butter Sailor Caps were popular at first; however, their low melting point created such a mess that the Navy terminated the program after the first year.

Alfred Eisenstaedt's V-J Day in Times Square picture from Life Magazine, featuring a sailor kissing a woman, while wearing a Reese's peanut butter cup hat.
V-J Day in Times Square with Reese’s, Alfred Eisenstaedt et al., Life Magazine, 1945

Up until this point, peanut butter cups had been used in costumes and uniforms but still weren’t part of an average person’s wardrobe. This all changed in 1955, when Marilyn Monroe wore her famous peanut butter cup skirt in The Seven Year Itch. Some little-known movie trivia: although it appears that Marilyn’s skirt is being blown up around her by a gust of air from a subway grate, in reality, peanut butter cups just aren’t that pliable. The skirt’s apparent movement was the product of a stop motion animation sequence that took ten hours to film and required Marilyn to change into more than 200 different chocolate skirts.

Marilyn Monroe standing on a subway grate with her dress -- or in this case, her Reese's peanut butter cup skirt -- blowing in the wind, from The Seven Year Itch
Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch, 1955.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Reese’s were a standard part of any elegant woman’s wardrobe, due in part to Marilyn Monroe’s famous dress and, of course, Jackie Kennedy’s signature Reese’s hats.

Jackie Kennedy wearing a Reese's peanut butter cup instead of a pillbox hat.
White House portrait of Jackie Kennedy

Reese’s fashions fell out of favor in the 1960s, possibly because Jackie’s peanut butter cup hat became associated in people’s minds with the Kennedy assassination. But it’s been almost 50 years — perhaps it’s time they made a comeback.

You can read more about Reese’s on all these fine blogs today (unless it turns out they’ve been playing an elaborate practical joke on me, and I’m the only one):

The Big Sheep Blog
Childhood Relived
Go Guilty Pleasures
Fifty Four and A Half
Fix It Or Deal
Play 101
Lenore’s Thoughts Exactly
Life In The Boomer Lane
Peg-o-Leg’s Ramblings
Refrigerator Magnate
Running From Hell With El
She’s A Maineiac
The Byronic Man
The Good Greatsby
The Monster In Your Closet
The Ramblings
Thoughts Appear’s Blog
Unlikely Explanations

Bonus fact: The results of a Google image search for “Rhesus Pieces” are a little disturbing, but not nearly as bad as you might expect.

72 thoughts on “Better Living Through Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

            1. Great, thanks for the link. Before blogging I was looking for a hobby and decided photography would be it, I bought an expensive camera kit, took ok shots but it was all the camera doing the work on auto, I never took to it like I thought I would, mainly as I couldn’t be bothered carrying around a massive camera all the time – it’s going on Ebay soon.

    1. Thanks! Photoshop has a “warp” feature that warps an object if you pull on its edges. It’s magic.

      BTW, I *loved* your photos. I don’t think you’re showing a lack of skills; I think you’re showing a different style.

  1. I forgot Degas Peanut Cup period (thoughtfully strokes chin in contemplation.)

    You have MAD photoshop skills – the sailor picture has me in stitches! Ha ha ha!

    You are last, but definitely not least, on my alphabetical blog journey. We did it – every one delivered! (whoo hoo hoo!)

  2. hahahahaha! I laughed the minute I saw the ballet dancing reese’s. So you all decided to do a “flash mob” reese”s moment!! So awesome, my hat is off to all of you!

  3. Wow — you are very talented! Those photos look like they were made that way. (Which of course they were, I must have misremembered my history.) Speaking of, I never knew Marilyn went through 200 Reese’s skirts. That’s dedication. And your last line was great! I never considered it was all a practical joke. But like Peg said, we all delivered. :)

  4. It seems like Reese’s would have made a fashion come-back in the 1980s. Bad ideas in clothing were huge back then!
    Love the Jackie O pic cause it actually looks like it could be a real hat!

    1. I actually wanted to add a pair of Reese’s earrings to a picture of Lady Di on her wedding day, but I just couldn’t pull it off.

  5. If I were still teaching I would use this in class as an example of how to develop a theme in an essay. It’s perfect for that (well, the conclusion would need a little work). And I’d pass out Reese’s to solidify the lesson. What a fun class that would be :-).

  6. Very detailed post Laura, and I’ve learned some new facts about fashion that I never knew before, such as folk wearing clothes daily. I’m going to visit a few of those other blogs you mention too (although probably not today, I’m having another of my uphill struggles against time and time is winning… you don’t happen to own a time machine do you?)

    1. I almost didn’t include that one at all. I was already planning on doing a hat for Jackie Kennedy, so for the sailor picture, I was going to Reese-ify the woman’s shoes (the heels are approximately the shape of a mini-Reese’s) — but I just couldn’t make that work.

  7. Wow–this was gorgeous and brilliant! The Marilyn Monroe picture made me laugh and gasp. Good on you.

  8. Brilliant. I loved the photos. Your fashion sense is yummy, but the best is the Degas. Or maybe Jackie. Possibly Marilyn. Oh dear …

    Well played!

  9. Hilarious post. I adore the fashion photos and history. Adore them! The last line struck me with retroactive panic — had I not just finished reading all the other Reese’s posts and knowing this was legit, I’d be seriously plotting Carrie’s Revenge right now.

  10. I’m a Refrigerator Magnate fan and chose your blog first from his list because it was the last one, and I figured people’d wimp out by the 15th or 16th post, and no one would read yours. I feel that pain every day after thoughtlessly naming my blog Unapologetically Mundane.

    I HOPE everyone reads this one, though, because . . . genius! I think the Life one is my favourite, but the Marilyn one seems the most technically masterful. I’m afraid none of the other posts will live up to this one now.

  11. LOL! I am in debate if I should be angry that you ruined one of the most romantic pictures of all time or give in to the giggle I am fighting because all of the pictures are so damn funny!

    1. It depends on the wedding. If the bride is wearing a traditional wedding gown, then it’s okay to wear peanut butter cups. But if the bride is wearing a dress like the one in the second-to-last picture in this post, then wearing Reese’s would be frowned upon, because you’d be distracting attention from the bride.

      BTW, your comment languished in the spam queue for a while. Sorry about that.

    1. Thanks! And now for a bonus bonus fact: several people on the Internet have joked about a genetically engineered flower called the Rhesus Peanut Buttercup.

  12. I have read a lot of these Reece’s pieces (pun intended) since they were posted. After the first five or six I found I had pretty much had my fill of chocolate & peanut butter delicacies and went on to read things that I hadn’t already read about that day. Spacing them out over a period of time cured me of my aversion to the overindulgence of the PB cups. That being said yours has been one of the most enjoyable ones to read. Your high sense of fashion is really quite clever.
    Thank you,

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