In advance of March Madness, Reese’s started airing a commercial featuring an animated briefcase (almost) full of peanut butter cups, with the premise that if your boss won’t let you leave work early to watch the tournament, you should bribe him/her with a briefcase of peanut butter cups.1 If you haven’t seen the ad, you can watch it below in all its deliciousness.

As an analytically-minded person and a lover of peanut butter cups, I found that the ad left me with several unanswered questions. The results of my analysis follow.

Original Recipe

The peanut butter cups in the briefcase appear to be arranged in an 8 cup x 5 cup x 4 cup configuration, for a total of 160 cups. This equates to:

  • 16,800 calories (105 per cup): Don’t eat them all in one sitting!

  • $45.53–79.60 approximate cost ($0.28–0.50 per cup, based on $20.49 for a box of 72 cups at Amazon and $1.99 for a 4-pack at my local CVS): does not include cost of briefcase

  • 7.4 pounds (21 grams per cup): does not include weight of briefcase

Going King Size

Based on personal measurements, a Reese’s peanut butter cup is approximately 1-7/8” in diameter, and 7/16” tall. The diameter, and the 8 cup x 5 cup arrangement would require the interior dimensions of the briefcase to be approximately 15” x 9-3/8” (we’ll get to height next). Based on a quick search of, it appears that a width of 15” is within the reasonable range of briefcase sizes, but a depth of 9-3/8” is probably on the small size relative to the width—8 cups by 6 cups may have been a bit more realistic.

Height is a bit more complicated. First, there appears to be about a cup’s worth of height between the top of the cups and the rim of the briefcase. This implies the height of the bottom portion of the briefcase is equal to that of five peanut butter cups plus the thickness of the bottom of the briefcase—let’s call it 2-3/8”. Second, the lid appears to account for about 30% of total briefcase height, which comes out to just over 1”. This makes the total height of the briefcase about 3-3/8”, which seems to be a reasonable value.

The real upshot here is that the briefcase is only at 57% capacity. As long as the walls of the briefcase are less than 5/32” thick and/or we’re willing to squish our peanut butter cups a tiny bit, we can fit three more entire layers—120 more cups—in the case! Here are some updated stats on the new and improved (and 75% tastier) briefcase of Reese’s:

  • 280 delicious peanut butter cups

  • 29,400 calories

  • $79.68–139.30 approximate cost

  • 13.0 pounds

A couple of notes on the full briefcase:

Even if the original 160 peanut butter cups was enough for you, it might be worth considering using the extra space, if only because it would help to keep the cups in place while carrying. If you really want to stick with the 160 cups, you could add some padding or find a thinner briefcase.

You’ll want to exercise extra caution when opening the 280-cup briefcase (relative to the 160-cup briefcase), since there are two full layers of cups above the rim of the briefcase.

Avoiding Sticky Situations

Finally a few words of caution:

  1. Do not use a nice briefcase for this, especially if you live in a warm climate, or work in a warm office.

  2. Please make sure your boss doesn’t have a peanut allergy before trying this.

In summary, bribing your boss with a briefcase of peanut butter cups probably isn’t a great idea for any number of reasons, but it sure is fun to think about. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a couple of test subjects that are ready to move from the measurement phase to the consumption phase.


  1. The exact words are “If your boss won’t let you cut out early, try sweetening the deal.”