It’s no secret that Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are one of the most beloved treats among candy connoisseurs. With their creamy peanut butter center and soft chocolate shell, Reese’s are treasured in all of their iterations, from the Reese's Outrageous Bar to Reese's-flavored donuts. Yet, there are certain seasonal versions of these candies that are more beloved than others, especially when it comes to the holidays. The Reese’s Easter Egg, Christmas Tree, and the upcoming Valentine’s Day Hearts are often referred to as tasting better than their traditional counterparts. There have been arguments on Twitter, with avid Reese’s fans debating the best shapes, And lengthy threads and polls to followers trying to determine which Reese’s reigns king. But why?

Why do Reese’s eggs, Christmas trees,  pumpkins, and hearts taste better than the cups?

The phenomenon has long been theorized upon, from TikTok videos to Quora threads, with many speculating on the cause for the seasonal Reese’s commotion. One widely accepted theory claims that the ratio of chocolate to peanut butter differs from that of the typical cups.

This theory does hold some weight; an investigative report conducted by the publication All Over Albany found that seasonal Reese’s, such as the Easter Reese’s Egg, could weigh as many as 14 grams more than the traditional cups. Luckily for peanut butter lovers this Valentine’s season, it was found that the Reese's Peanut Butter Heart had the most peanut butter of all the holiday and non-holiday cups.

This ratio difference likely has to do with the different shapes and lack of ridges on the holiday Reese’s renditions. “Our enjoyment of certain foods can be heightened simply by the shape and mouthfeel of a product, such as Reese’s holiday cups,” Dr. Brian Quoc Le, food scientist and food industry consultant, told Spoon. “A recent study showed that chocolates in a round shape were perceived to be creamier than the same chocolates in a square shape. Other shapes are likely to trigger emotions and feelings that contribute to positive or negative perceptions.” Basically, it may not be just food science that drives this phenomenon, it’s psychology.

It’s more than just shape, it’s psychology.

Hillary Schiff, Postdoctoral Fellow at Stony Brook University’s Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, offered some more insight into the mental processes that drive this preference. 

"The emotional component of the holidays and the air of festivity that makes the candies more enjoyable than in other times of the year,” Schiff added “Things tend to be happy, there’s a reason to celebrate, and that can combine with the taste to make it feel like a more pleasurable experience."

In addition, Schiff believes that there is an affinity for adventure that coincides with these departures from the typical peanut butter and chocolate treats. “These things tap into our sense of adventure,” she said. “They look different, and that can make you feel like it’s… a little more out of your normalcy, and humans have a really strong desire to be adventurous.”

It’s clear that these treats, while perpetually delicious, take on a special role during the holiday season, whether it be for their social and emotional connections or their creamy peanut butter goodness. And no matter if you choose the typical cups or the special hearts this Valentine’s, there’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s.