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.