How Reese's items landed his massive break with the assistance of the alien who wished to go dwelling

In honor of Halloween, it's time to tell the strange story of how one of America's favorite candies got its big break.

In 1981 Steven Spielberg prepared to join E.T. the alien. One of the critical scenes was Elliott, the film's child star, who won the crumpled little alien's trust by offering him candy.

But Universal Studios had a problem: M & Ms rejected them. The consensus now is that Mars Inc. wasn't interested because the plot was a little weird too. So Universal decided to move closer to its second choice, Reese & # 39; s Pieces.

At Hershey's headquarters, New Product Development Director Jack Dowd was happy to answer the call. In the three years since Reese & # 39; s Pieces was launched, sales have declined. So Dowd was eager to include his new product in the film, which is why he agreed to a deal that seemed risky at the time. As Dowd recalled in a 1991 interview, he had stated to Hershey's President Earl Spangler that “we would spend a million dollars on a movie I couldn't show them the script (and) that would use a little greenery from the Creature Space. "

"Are you sure this will work?" Spangler asked him. Dowd replied with an uncomfortable "Oh, sure."

Fortunately for Dowd's career and candy fans everywhere, it worked. Almost 150 million people bought tickets for E.T., which to date has made $ 1.33 billion, adjusted for inflation. The marketing value that Hershey has is between $ 15 million and $ 20 million.

No matter what kind of Halloween you have on Saturday, you can not only thank that little green alien for putting these candies on the card, but also saving them in many ways.

Starting with a treat called Hershey-ets in the 1950s, the confectionery maker had perfected the method of applying a hard shell coating. But it wasn't until the 1970s that research and development found out how to remove the peanut oil from the Penuche filling.

Hersheys originally called his foray in 1978 a soft peanut candy with a hard shell PBs, but soon changed the name to Reese & # 39; s Pieces. Despite the catchy name, the candy didn't make it big, perhaps because Reese's peanut butter cups already had such an impact on the taste.

It's easy to see the E.T. all of that changed in 1982, but what difference could an old film possibly make today? When analyzing the popularity of Halloween candy, it's important to keep in mind that kids might eat the stuff but their parents will buy it.

"Buyers are really the people who are most inspired by E.T.," said writer and consultant Beth Kimmerle, author of Candy: The Sweet History. Hersheys, she said, "was able to tie this candy brand to a movie that made people feel, and that feeling still plays out 40 years later."

Whatever the fate of the actual trick or treating this year, according to the National Confectioners Association, Halloween candy sales rose 13% last month, suggesting millions of Americans will stuff their faces even if they sit at home. But what are they buying? It turns out that it varies a lot from state to state. Reese & # 39; s Pieces was the most popular candy in Virginia and Indiana for years. But this year the candy that E.T. Fame has fallen off the list, even if its 92-year-old cousin, Reese & # 39; s Peanut Butter Cups, continues to rule Kansas, Maryland and North Carolina. Why could that be? Well, Americans seem to prefer the combined flavors of peanut butter and chocolate. Reese's pieces have a candy bowl, but no chocolate.Getty Images

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