[Takes a deep breath.] Kit Kat fans of America, I have some sad news for you. There will be no new Hershey’s Kit Kat flavors for Valentine’s Day and Easter this year. I repeat: no new Kit Kats for Valentine’s Day and Easter. Instead Hershey’s will be re-releasing Raspberry Crème in January and Lemon Crisp in March. So if you didn’t manage to snag either one of those this past year, now is your chance!
However, I must admit, statistics show that Reese’s fans far outnumber Kit Kat fans. Or at least Reese’s product sales routinely outpace every other division of Hershey’s. As marketing director Ryan Reiss (yes, that’s actually his name; yes, it’s pronounced “Reese”) put it, “The answer is always Reese’s.” And so, when Hershey’s planned its offerings for Valentine’s Day and Easter 2021, everyone went hard on the peanut butter.
Hershey’s revealed its new Valentine’s and Easter candy a couple of weeks ago in a sort of Zoom holiday party. Everyone was feeling festive, even though they were wearing heart-shaped sunglasses and bunny ears instead of Santa hats. That is the problem with working in food research and development: you’re always a season ahead of the rest of the world.
The theme for Valentine’s Day this year is roses. There will be Reese’s Peanut Butter Roses that are taller (but not wider) than actual roses. As with all Reese’s shapes, the chocolate-peanut butter ratio is unique, this one skewing more toward chocolate. But they come in a very nice gift box that wraps up nicely.
I was much more excited about the Hershey’s Kisses Meltaway Roses. They come wrapped in rose-patterned foil with a green flag, but the best thing about them is the center: it’s soft, but not liquid like last year’s Lava Cake Kisses (also returning this year). They reminded me of a half-baked brownie. Hershey’s has also devised a recipe for Meltaway Brownie Bite cookies that follow the basic template of the traditional holiday blossoms, but with a chocolate cookie base.
Also new this year: Hugs and Kisses (white creme and milk chocolate, respectively) together in the same box for the very first time; a Hershey’s chocolate bear that has “Beary Best Friends” imprinted on the chocolate; and the Reese’s Big Box O’Love, which contains 20 Reese’s cups.
Easter 2021 was inspired by bunnies. There will be not one but two new Hershey’s bunny rabbits. Both are solid, which is important information. One has really long ears that have a square pattern, like the regular Hershey’s bar. The other is a “Build-A-Bunny” that kids can take apart and reconfigure in all sorts of fun shapes—ears on the bottom!—before they eat it. (It’s the same concept as the Christmas Build-A-Santa, about which a very astute nine-year-old child of my acquaintance observed, “It’s just a Hershey bar!” She and her little brother still ate it, though.)
A fun bit of chocolate bunny trivia: 59% of the respondents in a Hershey’s survey reported that they eat the ears first. Many members of the Hershey’s marketing team, especially the confirmed ears-first eaters, thought this number seemed suspiciously low.
The biggest Easter development, however, has nothing to do with bunnies and everything to do with Reese’s: Mallow-Top Peanut Butter Cups. These are like regular Reese’s Cups except the top half is covered in white marshmallow crème, similar but not identical to the covering of Witch’s Brew Kit Kats. The development team may or may not have been inspired by Fluffernutter sandwiches. They tasted a bit too sweet for me, but my partner has already devoured half a bag. Since the tops of the cups are white, you can decorate them if you are crafty and armed with icing.
There will also be Strawberry Lemonade Duckling Ice Breakers. Ice Breakers are sugar-free gum with surprising flavor power, and the strawberry lemonade flavor tastes like Bubblicious Bananaberry Split bubble gum, which happened to be my favorite before I got braces and couldn’t chew gum anymore. So this made me happy. (Incidentally, I regularly ate Fluffernutter sandwiches in junior high also, so this Easter was clearly conceived as a nostalgia experience especially for me.)
As we Zoomed and tasted all these new treats, the sun was setting even though it was only 3:30 in the afternoon and a blizzard was happening on the East Coast. But Team Hershey’s was optimistic. Someday all this will pass and we will all be eating chocolate bunnies (ears first) in the weak spring sunlight. By that point, of course, they will have already moved on to Halloween.