17 Surprising Things You Didn't Know About Hershey's Kisses

Hershey's Kisses Surprises


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Hershey's Kisses Surprises
They Used To Be Wrapped By Hand
They Used To Be Wrapped By Hand by Morgan (CC BY)

1. They Used to Be Wrapped by Hand

Part of the joy of eating Hershey's Kisses: tearing off the shiny foil wrapper. When Kisses were introduced in 1907, they were wrapped by hand. This painstaking process would continue until 1921, when the company started using a wrapping machine that also inserted the distinctive paper plume that remains today.

Wilbur Buds Were Here First

2. Wilbur Buds Were Here First

Kisses are so iconic that it might seem surprising that a very similar product, Wilbur Buds, predates them by several years. Hershey was just one of several copycats, and the H.O. Wilbur company even sued to stop them. It didn't work, and the company faded into the background as Hershey grew to become dominant. Curious about how Wilbur Buds stack up? You can still buy them online.

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Old Hershey Kisses ad
Old Hershey Kisses ad by Victorgrigas (CC BY-SA)

3. The Origin of Their Name Is Disputed

Ask how Kisses got their name and you might hear that it's because of the sound the machinery made as it squirted each Kiss onto a conveyor belt. But experts say that's probably not the case (and even Hershey won't say definitively). A more plausible explanation: "Kiss" was a generic turn-of-the-century term for a bite-sized piece of candy, and the name simply stuck. 

'Kiss' Wasn't Trademarked Until 2001

4. 'Kiss' Wasn't Trademarked Until 2001

It's precisely because the term "Kiss" was, well, not so special that Hershey actually didn't prevail in a trademark battle over the name until 2001. It wasn't until then that a judge was persuaded that Americans would associate the term automatically with Hershey. The company even spearheaded a massive survey to help prove its point. 

Production Stopped During World War II
Wikimedia Commons

5. Production Stopped During World War II

Like so many products, Hershey's Kisses were affected by the war effort — in this case, because foil was being rationed. Hershey instead used its Kisses machinery to temper chocolate paste for bars that would be sent to soldiers. Specially formulated to resist melting and nourish soldiers, these bars didn't win any taste tests.

Hershey's Once Made a 30,000-Pound Kiss
Lawrence Lucier/Stringe/Getty Images

6. Hershey's Once Made a 30,000-Pound Kiss

If you think a 1-pound Hershey's Kiss seems absurd, consider this: Hershey made a Kiss that tipped the scales at more than 30,000 pounds to celebrate its 100th anniversary, putting it on display at Chocolate World in Hershey, Pennsylvania, in 2007. The mega-Kiss still holds the Guinness record for the largest individual chocolate ever made

Kisses Had an Ill-Fated Spinoff

7. Kisses Had an Ill-Fated Spinoff

Do you remember Kissables? Hershey's may actually prefer that you don't. Introduced in 2005, these candy-coated miniature Kisses were positioned to complete with M&Ms. They may have done just that, but Hershey tinkered with the recipe in 2007 — so much so that it could no longer call them "candy coated milk chocolate." Fans could apparently tell the difference between the original recipe, which was more expensive to make, and the cheaper, newer version. Kissables were pulled from the market in 2009.

Related: The Most Unnecessary Flavors From Classic Food Brands

They Spawned an Iconic Cookie ...

8. They Spawned an Iconic Cookie ...

You may not even know their name, but you've seen them: Thick rings of peanut-butter dough, crusted in sugar crystals and topped with a Hershey's Kiss melted into the center. Best known as peanut blossoms, these cookies were a finalist in the 1957 Pillsbury Bake-Off. After that, Hershey printed the recipe on bags of Kisses, and peanut blossoms have been a staple of cookie swaps and family get-togethers ever since.

Related: The 20 Best Classic Cookie Recipes

... And an Iconic Commercial

9. ... And an Iconic Commercial

One of the most enduring holiday commercials features none other than Hershey's Kisses, all ringing like hand bells while they play "We Wish You A Merry Christmas." In 2019, the spot will celebrate its 30th anniversary. It remains unchanged since its debut, save a tweak in 2018 that invited viewers to visit a website and make their own version of the commercial using everything from DJ horns to cow bells. 

There Have Been Plenty of Weird Flavors

10. There Have Been Plenty of Weird Flavors

Winter usually brings Candy Cane Kisses to store shelves, and in 2018, Hot Cocoa Kisses joined the party. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Flavors have included New York Cheesecake, Green Tea, Crème de Menthe, and — of course — Pumpkin Spice.    

dame un beso
dame un beso by Ana N R (CC BY-NC)

11. There Are 23 Calories in Each One

Hershey says there are 160 calories in a seven-piece serving of Hershey's Kisses. Do a little math, and you'll figure out each Kiss has close to 23 calories. A 150-pound person would have to go on a brisk 40-minute walk to burn off an entire serving — or dance for about five minutes to burn off just one of them.

Hershey Chocolate Factory in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Hershey Chocolate Factory in Hershey, Pennsylvania. by Antarctic96 (CC BY-SA)

12. Hershey's Churns Out 70 Million Kisses a Day

The Kiss machines in Hershey, Pennsylvania, run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Each day, they make a staggering 70 million Kisses. If you lined all up all the Kisses Hershey's makes in a year, they would make a line more than 300,000 miles long — enough to circle the globe at the equator about 12 times.

Hershey's Kisses Bar
Hershey's Kisses Bar by duncan c (CC BY-NC)

13. Bakers Take Their Kisses Seriously

Hershey was forced to investigate in 2018 after angry bakers started complaining that they'd received Kisses with broken tips. The controversy, which got rolling after a baker shared a picture of her broken-tip peanut blossoms, even made the New York Times. The company never gave a definitive explanation for the less-than-perfect Kisses, but its attempt to spin the incident with a social media post celebrating diversity was roundly panned.

They're Wrapped in Gold Foil in China

14. They're Wrapped in Gold Foil in China

Though seasonal Kisses often deviate from the candy's iconic silver wrapper, buy some in China and you might find that even regular varieties are wrapped in gold — part of Hershey's strategy to appeal to consumer tastes there. The candies are also smoother and less sweet than their American counterparts, another nod to local tastes.

There Are Kiss-shaped Street Lamps ...

15. There Are Kiss-Shaped Street Lamps ...

Take note of the streetlights when strolling Chocolate Avenue in Hershey, Pennsylvania: More than 100 are shaped like Hershey's Kisses, wrapped and unwrapped. Installed in 1963, they were designed by Line Material with an aluminum base and "paper" plumes that could spin like weathervanes.

... And a Kissmobile

16. ... And a Kissmobile

Move over, Weinermobile: Hershey's Kissmobile traveled 250,000 miles, giving out samples and sparking smiles since its debut in 1997. The 26-foot vehicle can hold close to a ton of Kisses. The original Kissmobile Cruiser is on display at a museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Hershey's Kiss during Hershey's party
M. Von Holden / Staff / FilmMagic / Getty Images CC

17. Hershey Rings in the New Years by Raising a Giant Kiss

New York City might have the ball drop, but Hershey, Pennsylvania, has the Kiss raise. Every year, a giant Kiss ascends three stories to mark the new year during family-friendly New Year's celebrations. It's 7 feet high — 12 counting the plume — and weighs 300 pounds.