17 Surprising Things You Didn't Know About Hershey Kisses

Hershey Kisses candy for Valentine's Day
Photo credit: CatLane/istockphoto

How Sweet It Is

Every Valentine’s Day, you can count on heart-shaped boxes of Hershey’s Kisses to compete for your dollars and jumpstart your chocolate cravings. One of the most iconic candies to grace store aisles, Kisses have a long, storied history as one of America’s favorite guilty pleasures. Here are some sweet morsels of Hershey’s Kiss trivia.

hand holding Hershey Kisses in palm

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 Milk Chocolate Buds
Photo credit: Wilbur Buds

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’s 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’s grew to become dominant. Curious about how Wilbur Buds stack up? You can still buy them online.

Old Hershey Kisses ad

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’s 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.

holiday Hershey Kisses
Photo credit: gsheldon/istockphoto

'Kiss' Wasn't Trademarked Until 2001

It’s precisely because the term “Kiss” was, well, not so special that Hershey’s 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’s. The company even spearheaded a massive survey to help prove its point.

Related: Frisbee and Other Brand Names We Use for Everyday Products

World War II Ration Chocolate
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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’s 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.

The world's largest Hershey's Kisses chocolate is unveiled at the Metropolitan Pavilion July 31, 2003 in New York City
Photo credit: Lawrence Lucier/Stringe/Getty Images

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

If you think a 1-pound Hershey’s Kiss seems absurd, consider this: Hershey’s 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.

Hershey's Kissables
Photo credit: Hershey

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’s 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.

Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies
Photo credit: saje/istockphoto

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’s printed the recipe on bags of Kisses, and peanut blossoms have been a staple of cookie swaps and family get-togethers ever since.

Hershey Kisses 'Bells' Commercial
Photo credit: Hershey

… 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.

Hot Cocoa Kisses
Photo credit: Amazon

There Have Been Plenty of Weird Flavors

Winter usually brings Candy Cane Kisses to store shelves, and last year 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. One teen’s painstaking collection lists close to 60 varieties, with a half-dozen still yet to be acquired.

Unwrapped Hershey kiss

There Are 23 Calories in Each One

Hershey’s 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 Kiss factory
Photo credit: Krissy's Krazy Fun Channel/YouTube

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.

Row of Hershey kisses

Bakers Take Their Kisses Seriously

Hershey’s 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.

Gold Hershey kisses
Photo credit: Amazon

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.

street light shaped like Hershey Kiss, Hershey, Pennsylvania
Photo credit: gsheldon/istockphoto

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.

Kissmobile, Hershey, Pennsylvania
Photo credit: Michael J/TripAdvisor

… And a Kissmobile

Move over, Weinermobile: Hershey’s Kissmobile has 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 usually on display at a museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Kiss raise in Hershey, Pennsylvania
Photo credit: Hershey New Year's Eve/Facebook

Hershey's 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.

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