The Reese’s tree controversy of 2015 has been a pretty epic chapter of “first world problems” history. Few thought that when the confection company responded to the obscene level of criticism over this year’s holiday trees, it would be just as epic as the public outcry.
If you’re unfamiliar with the issue at hand, you’ll need a little background. Every year, Reese’s sells holiday-themed chocolates to their adoring and loyal fan-base. Halloween brings pumpkin-shaped Reese’s, Valentine’s Day comes around and Reese’s releases troves of little chocolate/peanut butter hearts, and for the Christmas season, the world is treated to Reese’s trees.
This year, fans of the holiday-inspired, traditional Reese’s trees were disappointed. Vastly. This holiday season, the festive version of Reese’s peanut butter cups looked less like trees than shapeless blobs. Some 2015 Reese’s trees faintly resembled arrow-heads dipped in chocolate. For the most part, though, they were vaguely triangular lumps of chocolate-coated peanut butter, and the Reese’s fans weren’t happy.
The response to the travesty of the un-tree-like Reese’s trees quickly went viral, Fox News reported. Indeed, when Fox News reported on the holiday horror that Reese’s lovers faced when they opened their chocolate-covered goodness, they were less than diplomatic. Rather than refer to the poor, misshapen chocolates as “blobs,” they chose to refer them as “turds” in their headline, conveniently hijacking the reference from a disappointed candy-buyer’s tweet.
— Shelf Life Shop (@shelflife_shop) November 15, 2015
Reese’s initially responded to the complaints of fans who took to social media with a stock, canned response. Upset consumers were told that “this is not the perfect experience we’re going for. Please send us a note so we can help,” then directed to Hershey’s customer service page. Unfortunately for Reese’s the story went viral (despite this not being the first year that Reese’s trees have come under fire for their un-tree-like appearance), and the social media complaints became legion.
The company has handled disgruntled holiday tree consumers in the past. In both 2013 and 2014, consumers took to Twitter to share their pics (and disappointment) of their Reese’s trees. This despite a spokesperson for the company telling Fox News that the Reese’s holiday special edition shapes account for more than a double-digit (and growing) percentage of the annual sales of the popular chocolate treats.
The company even explained to their loyal customers that there’s a reason why the trees don’t always look precisely like trees. Anna Lingeris, a Reese’s representative, explained that the seasonal shapes, including holiday trees, aren’t made the same as the traditional cups. There’s no mold of chocolate filled with peanut butter. Rather, the process is quite the opposite. Peanut butter is covered with melted chocolate instead.
“They are soft peanut butter centers that are enrobed in chocolate, a process which by its nature creates a less distinct shape.”
Even this logical, professional disclosure of the true issue with the Reese’s trees didn’t placate the consumer base this year, though. The Twitter complaints continued, and the masses wouldn’t be swayed from their dismaying holiday season crisis. Next to the red Starbucks cup, the Reese’s tree debacle seemed to be the largest corporate attack on Christmas in America this year, and there was no appeasing the irate social media storm swirling.
That is, until Reese’s decided to fight fire with fire. They issued an epic set of tweets that were sure to silence any “tree hater” or “tree shamer” in the first world. They employed social media and the world of hashtags, and the creative geniuses on their payroll came up with something utterly brilliant.
REESE'S celebrates trees of all shapes and sizes. It's not what it looks like, it's what it tastes like. pic.twitter.com/8KURar00UX
— REESE'S (@ReesesPBCups) December 2, 2015
— REESE'S (@ReesesPBCups) December 3, 2015
There you have it, folks. It’s not about what your Reese’s tree looks like on the outside. It’s about what is on the inside — peanut butter deliciousness. To be fair, the complaints were all superficial, no love for the substance.
Most consumers took the apology in the spirit it was issued, laughed off their holiday tree angst, and realized that if a funny-looking Reese’s tree was the worst that happened to them this season, they had much to be thankful for and little to complain about.
There were, of course, a few hold-outs who felt their life had been inexcusably affronted. The Reese’s trees social media responders handled them with good grace and holiday cheer, too.
— REESE'S (@ReesesPBCups) December 2, 2015
It seems the dust has settled in the wake of this year’s Reese’s trees dilemma, and Reese’s handled it masterfully. Perhaps, next year, they’ll consider changing their marketing from “Reese’s trees” to “Reese’s bells” to avoid further customer heartbreak?
[Image Courtesy Of @Toasted_n_posted/Twitter]