Every holiday season for the past 31 years, the Hershey Co. has aired its iconic ad that reimagines Hershey's Kisses as bells playing the tune "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." This year, the beloved chocolate-maker released a new spin on the commercial, and it includes human actors in addition to the stop-motion candies putting on their annual performance.
In the 2020 version, titled "Bells to Blossoms," a child's hand pops into the frame and grabs a Hershey's Kiss after the candies play a few bars of the song. Then, a father-daughter duo, smiling ear to ear, uses the Kisses to top some peanut butter blossom cookies as the carol continues to play on brass instruments instead of bells.
"Heartwarming the holidays," the screen reads.
Commenters were quick to call out the company for revising the commercial in a year that's already been packed with difficult changes. Multiple people even suggested Hershey create a separate ad with the dad and little girl, in addition to airing its seasonal marketing mainstay.
"I don't mind an ADDITIONAL holiday commercial for Hershey's, but warping the classic bells commercial SUCKS!" one person commented on the YouTube video of the new ad.
"The perfect representation of 2020: completely ruined!" added another.
"Look forward to original every year. Why change it? Don’t ruin it just make a separate commercial," wrote a third.
Criticism of the new ad took off on Twitter, too.
"Hershey’s redoing their christmas commercial is personally the last straw of 2020 for me," one person tweeted. "I simply cannot go on without hearing the little hershey kiss sigh after the performance of his lifetime."
Hershey's has responded on Twitter to several upset social media users, apologizing for their disappointment and offering to pass on the feedback.
In a statement to TODAY Food, the company explained that the original bells ad actually did air this year until Nov. 23, when the new one was released, but now they'll be running both the old and the new ads, as some on social media had suggested.
"We made the decision to make a slight update to the original that kept the opening holiday melodies and incorporated another holiday tradition, baking — melding together these two time-honored traditions," the statement read. "From playing the bells to baking peanut butter blossoms, it’s Hershey's Kisses that have stood the test of time."
"For viewers who love our original – don’t worry, we’ll be running both holiday ads this season," Hershey's continued. "Keep your eyes peeled for our classic and iconic Bells spot as well as the newest 'Bells to Blossoms.'"
The Hershey's Kisses Christmas bells ad, conceptualized in 1989, is the company's longest-running commercial, according to the Hershey Community Archives. In its three decades on air, it's remained largely unchanged, except for a 2016 update that added high-definition graphics and adjustments to the tagline. Also, in December 2018, Hershey's launched its Play the Kisses campaign, which included a virtual set of Kisses that fans could play and share the video on social media.
EDITOR'S NOTE (Dec. 1, 2020, 12:56 p.m. EST): This article has been updated with a new statement from Hershey's that says both the new and original holiday ads will run this year.