There was an old man who lived in a shoe ... no, not really, but I'd imagine he thought about it after he and his wife had their 16th child.
The man was Harry Burnett, a struggling worker trying to eke out a living doing jobs like farming, managing a fish hatchery and working in a factory. In a move that very sadly wouldn't work today, the answer to his woes was found in dairy farming.
It was the 1920s and it is important to note the farm was owned by a confectionary business. The company was about 30 years old and growing fast, so they needed folks like Harry Burnett to provide them with all the milk he could manage.
Harry was immediately inspired and astounded by the confectioner and his growing company, so much so that he too decided to dip his fingers into the confectionary business. He began making confections as a side hobby for a little extra income. His sweet creations were made in his basement, and he named them after his children.
He worked for the confectioner during the day and at night he used ingredients he bought from the same company to make his special treats, which sold like hot cakes at the local market.
In 10 years he moved out of the basement and became a real life Willy Wonka with a 100,000-square-foot factory on Chocolate Avenue in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Most famous were the candies he sold for a penny - "penny cups," he called them. They went out the door in 5-pound boxes.
When World War II rationing came about many years later, those penny cups were the only candy he continued to produce.
In 1956, Harry died of a heart attack. Seven years later, six of his sons sold the business to the Hershey company, the same company that hired Harry as a dairy farmer and propelled him to fame. The brothers netted a cool $23.5 million in 1963 money.
These delicious treats became Hershey's best-selling product in 1969, and now everyone wants them in their Halloween candy. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are the third most popular candies sold for Halloween, behind only Snickers and candy corn.
Debbie Grimler's Peanut Butter Cups
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 stick softened butter
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 pound chocolate
- 1 cup peanut butter
- Paper cups
Filling: Mix all ingredients together.
Coating: Melt peanut butter and chocolate together in the microwave in 12-second bursts. When pourable, use a spoon to put a small amount into the bottoms of paper cups.
Scoop a small amount of the peanut butter filling into your hand and form it into a ball before pressing it into the cup. Cover the filling with another small amount of chocolate coating.
Repeat until all filling and chocolate is used. Allow to cool, then serve.
Betty Crocker's Peanut Butter Cup Banana Bread
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup mashed, ripe bananas (approximately 2 large bananas)
- 2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 packages peanut butter cups (chilled), chopped into small pieces
Mix the sugar and butter until creamy, then combine with the eggs, milk, vanilla and bananas, beating about 30 seconds or until well blended. Add all the remaining ingredients, except the candy, and mix until moistened. Fold in all but 2 tablespoons of the peanut butter cups before pouring into a greased 9x5-inch loaf pan.
Bake 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes at 350 degrees or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool the loaf in the pan for 10 minutes before removing it to cool on a rack. Chop the remaining 2 tablespoons of cups fine and sprinkle them on top while the loaf is warm.
Travis Grimler may be reached at 218-855-5853 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Travis.