Reese's Wrappers Might Have Violated Federal Law

Sweepstakes advertising on Reese's Peanut Butter Cups can easily be misinterpreted.

Hershey might have gotten itself into some trouble with a Reese's wrapper featuring the brand's mascot, Cuppy. The company is currently running a $25,000 sweepstakes under the name "Reese's University," advertised on the packaging for some of its products. But this seemingly ordinary promotion has landed the company in some hot water. It all comes down to the fine print, or, in this case, the lack thereof, the Associated Press reports.

Why Reese’s might be in trouble for its sweepstakes

"No purchase necessary." We've all seen and heard that phrase a lot. That's because state and federal laws dictate the rules for sweepstakes, and they require that no purchase is necessary in order to participate; if you had to buy something to enter the sweepstakes, then it becomes a lottery system, and lotteries have separate rules and regulations. The issue is that the Reese's packaging advertising the sweepstakes doesn't make it sufficiently clear that you don't have to buy the Reese's cups to enter.


As seen in the photo above, the front-facing label has small print reading, "See details inside." That sure seems to indicate that you have to buy the peanut butter cups to find out more about the Reese's University sweepstakes, doesn't it? After looking all over the package, I myself could not locate anything on the packaging indicating that no purchase is necessary to enter.

The AP reports that the actual fine print stating this information is inside the wrapper, implying that the consumer has already purchased the Reese's cups. This potential violation of state and federal law was initially reported by former Massachusetts assistant attorney general and current consumer advocate Edgar Dworsky, who runs a site called Consumer World.


"You never have to pay to play," Dworsky told the AP. "All these packages should be recalled."

Hershey, owner of the Reese's brand, responded in a statement explaining that some packages have QR codes on the outside linking to that information. Notably, the packaging on a four-pack of Reese's cups I grabbed at Walgreens did not have this QR code on it. Hershey also said that in-store displays for the cups have a shortened version of the rules printed on them, but I also didn't find such a display at my nearest Walgreens.

Dworsky believes that this packaging would convince customers to buy these Reese's cups in order to enter, when in reality, that's not necessary. You'll always have been entitled to enter, sans the cost of some peanut butter cups. So if you find yourself reaching for those Reese's, enticed by the chance to win $25,000, just know your chances aren't exactly going to increase if you buy and eat them—though that's not necessarily the worst thing in the world.