Is Reese's Peanut Butter Cups HALAL? (Or Chocolate Pieces)

Khadija Ahmed

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January 03, 2024
Muslim man looking at Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Candy

Owned by the Hershey Company, Reese's products have become an icon in the world of chocolate candy. Their signature combination of peanut butter filling with a milk chocolate flavour coating has won the hearts of many.

But is the beloved Reese’s halal under Islamic law? Let's take a closer look at this United States food product behemoth.

Who is Reese's?

Reese's United States factory

Reese's was originally founded by Harry Burnett Reese, an American inventor who founded the H. B. Reese Candy Company.

Reese was born in 1879 and worked as an agricultural and dairy farmer in Pennsylvania. In 1919 Reese started manufacturing milk chocolate covered fruits (like raisins), using milking machines and dairy animals from his farm.

In 1923, he incorporated the H. B. Reese Candy Company and invented Peanut Butter Cups, which went on to become the number one selling candy brand in the United States for chocolate lovers with sales of over $2 billion per year in 2023.

After Reese's death in 1956, his sons merged H. B. Reese Company with The Hershey Company, the current owner of Reese, and their shares are now worth over $4 billion.

Reese's products and key ingredients

Peanut Butter Cups in production at Reese's

Reese's has nearly 100 different candies, cookies and cereals and within the candy line, there are around 60 different products ranging from chocolates to pieces to cups.

Reese's most popular food products are: Reese's Pieces (peanut butter candy in a crunchy shell), Reese's Mini Cups (unwrapped mini peanut butter cups), Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Reese's Pieces Chocolate (including dark chocolate), Reese's Puffs, Reese's Miniature Eggs and Reese's Sticks (Reese's version of a KitKat).

Diving deeper into the ingredient list of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, one will find main ingredients that give the product its distinctive taste and texture. These include cocoa butter, which lends the creamy texture; cocoa mass, the primary component of chocolate; and milk powder which, combined with nonfat milk and milk fat, gives the product its creamy milk chocolate flavour. The addition of corn syrup, a widely used sweetener in many confectionery products, ensures that Reese's has the sweetness that many chocolate lovers crave.

Are Peanut Butter Cups by Reese's Halal or Haram?

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups Ingredients

Milk Chocolate Flavour Coating (Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Cocoa Mass, Skimmed Milk Powder, Milk Flat, Lactose, Emulsifiers, Soya Lecithin, Polyglycerol Polyricinoleate from Castor Beans Oil), Peanut Butter Crème (Peanuts, Sugar, Dextrose, Milk Flat, Salt, Antioxidants, Citric Acid)

There are a number of similar ingredients that can be found in Reese's Pieces too:

Reese's Pieces Ingredients

Sugar, Peanuts, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Palm Kernel and Soybean Oil), Corn Syrup, Dextrose, Colourings (Yellow 5 Lake, Red 40 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Blue 1 Lake), Salt, Resinous Glaze, Soy Lecithin, Modified Cornstarch, Carnauba Wax, Vanillin, Artificial Flavour, Milk

At first glance, these ingredients might seem purely plant-based and safe for all consumers. However, when dissected further, some elements, especially milk fat and other dairy products, may raise eyebrows. The reason behind this is that dairy ingredients, depending on their source and the methods used in their production, might sometimes have traces of animal-based ingredients. Such elements are considered non-permissible under strict Islamic dietary laws.

For devout followers, even the smallest trace can render a food product non-halal.

Inside the Reese's factory

In terms of additives, both soya lecithin and soy lecithin are frequently mentioned. These ingredients, derived from soybeans, play a pivotal role in ensuring the smooth consistency of chocolate, preventing it from becoming chalky or grainy. 

Another significant ingredient to scrutinise is the resinous glaze. This glaze is often derived from a specific tiny red insect, and it is used to give candy a glossy, appealing shine. While it's a common component in the candy world, it is potentially problematic. Its origin might not only be an issue for those following Islamic law but also for those who follow a vegan diet, given its animal-derived nature.

The inclusion of palm oil, another widespread ingredient in the confectionery world, warrants a closer look. While it is undoubtedly plant-derived and thus might seem inherently permissible, it comes with its set of ethical concerns, especially related to deforestation and wildlife habitat destruction. These concerns, though not directly related to halal status, might make palm oil a questionable ingredient for conscientious consumers.

So, is Reese's halal?

Peanut Butter Cups by Reese's

There's a silver lining for Reese's aficionados following a halal diet. In a tweet posted by the official Reese's account, they said:

The following Reese's products are certified Halal: Reese's Sticks, UPC 341520 Reese's Sticks Minis (Unwrapped), UPC 3400009468 Reese's Pieces, UPC 3400011420 Reese's Pieces, UPC 3400011663 Reese's Pieces, UPC 342480

As a result, this confirmed halal certification makes Reese's Pieces halal for Muslims to consume under Islamic dietary laws. This distinction illustrates the Hershey Company's dedication and efforts in ensuring they cater to the diverse dietary requirements and preferences of their global consumer base. 

And what about Reese's Peanut Butter Cups?

Given that there are no animal-based ingredients in Chocolate Cups other than milk, which is halal for Muslims to consume, it is safe to say that Peanut Butter Cups are also halal.

After contacting The Hershey Company, an online journalist also got a reply from a consumer representative stating that REESE'S Peanut Butter Cup Candy is currently halal-certified.

In conclusion, the halal status of Reese has been confirmed multiple times by the company via email and on social media, and their use of animal products is limited, appealing to Muslim consumers who have dietary restrictions. Importantly, Reese's does not use any alcohol or pork products in their delicious treats.

But as with any candy or confectionary product like Hi-Chew Candy, Welch's Fruit Snacks, Starburst or Haribo Gummy Bears it's always a good idea to check the ingredients list so you can make an informed decision for ultimate peace of mind.

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