Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #7 - Milton Hershey the Chocolate King or My Trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania

I started out thinking that this would be a thirteen devoted to my trip, and probably very touristy, however, as I learned more about the man responsible for Hershey Chocolate, and town of Hershey Pennsylvania itself, it quickly became clear to me that this needed to be about him, that just like I knew nothing about where Hershey Chocolate came from, probably many other people would not as well. It’s a lot to read, I’m sorry, I keep thinking I’ll be brief and it never happens!

Courtesy of Wikipedia , photos by yours truly ;)

1. Milton Snavely Hershey (September 13, 1857 – October 13, 1945) was a confectioner, philanthropist, and founder of The Hershey Chocolate Company and the "company town" of Hershey, Pennsylvania.

2. Hershey was born on a farm near Derry Church, Pennsylvania, the only surviving child of Henry and Fanny Hershey. Due to the family's frequent moves he dropped out of school after the fourth grade and was then apprenticed to a Lancaster, Pennsylvania printer. The apprenticeship was soon terminated as he did not like the craft and purposely let his hat fall into the printing press.

3. His first two ventures into the candy business failed, but in 1883 he established the Lancaster Caramel Company, which succeeded spectacularly, and it was this business that established him as a candy-maker. (Mmmmm Caramel!)

4. Hershey became fascinated with the machinery to make German chocolate exhibited at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, and bought the equipment for his Lancaster plant. He soon began producing a variety of chocolate creations. Despite the success of his caramel company, Hershey determined that the chocolate industry had more promise than caramel. He sold the Lancaster Caramel Company for one million dollars in 1900 (a very large sum of money at the time), but retained the chocolate business and the rights to produce chocolate products.

5. With the proceeds from his caramel business sale, Hershey purchased 40,000 acres of dairyland near his birthplace of Derry that would allow him access to the quantities of milk he would need to develop a milk chocolate formula (at the time a Swiss luxury), and built a factory on it from1903-1905. Hershey's milk chocolate quickly became the first nationally marketed product of its kind.

6. Hershey envisioned a complete community around his factory. He built a model town for his employees that included comfortable homes, an inexpensive public transportation system, a quality public school system and extensive recreational and cultural opportunities. Hershey avoided building a faceless company town with row houses. He wanted a home town with tree-lined streets, single- and two-family brick houses, and manicured lawns. He was concerned about providing adequate recreation and diversions, so he built HersheyPark which opened on 24 April 1907, and expanded rapidly over the next several years. Amusement rides, a swimming pool, and a ballroom were added. Soon, trolley cars and trains were bringing thousands of out-of-town visitors to the park.

Yes, there really is a Chocolate Avenue, and yes, those really are Hershey Kiss shaped street lights. Some of them are wrapped and some of them aren't, and I believe the banners are able to spin, so the wind turns them. ;)

7. Many of the town's structures were built during the Great Depression, as part of Milton Hershey's "Great Building Campaign," to provide jobs. It was then that structures such as the Hotel Hershey (unbelievable, built during the depression?! Wow!! We actually didn’t stay there, but the pictures I’ve seen are beautiful!), community center, Hershey Theatre, the HersheyPark Arena and HersheyPark Stadium were constructed, transforming the town into a tourist attraction.

8. On May 25, 1898 Hershey married Catherine "Kitty" Sweeney. Since the couple could not have children, they decided to use their successes to benefit others, opening the Hershey Industrial School in 1909. Catherine died prematurely in 1915 and Hershey never remarried.

9. In 1912, the Hersheys were to travel on the ill-fated British luxury liner RMS Titanic. However, they canceled their reservations because Mrs. Hershey was ill at the time.

10. This is the answer to a question that hubby and I had, since the Hershey’s didn’t have any children of their own, and Hershey himself was the only surviving child of his parents, who benefits from the company now? The answer is actually very nice! In 1918, three years after Catherine's death, he endowed the school with his entire fortune of Hershey Chocolate Company stock. He took great pride in the growth of the school, the town, and his business. For the rest of his life, he always placed the quality of his product and the well-being of his workers ahead of profits. In 1918, Hershey transferred the majority of his assets, including control of the company, to the formation of the Milton Hershey School Trust, to benefit the Industrial School. The trust fund has a majority of voting shares in The Hershey Company, allowing it to keep control of the company. In 1951, the school was renamed the Milton Hershey School. The Milton Hershey School Trust also has 100% control of Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company, which owns The Hotel Hershey and HersheyPark, among other properties.

11. In 1935, Hershey established The M.S. Hershey Foundation, a private charitable foundation that provides educational and cultural opportunities for Hershey residents. The Foundation supplies funding for three entities: The Hershey Museum and Hershey Gardens, the Hershey Theatre and the Hershey Community Archives. Hershey Gardens as it is today has a replica of Mrs. Hershey’s Rose Garden (or they may have moved the actual garden to that location, that’s what I get for having a faulty memory!). It was quite impressive, unfortunately we just missed the tulip displays, and nothing else had really gotten going yet, but they have a cute children’s garden and some really impressive trees! The two that I’ve shown here are actually “walk thru trees” and you can see where they’ve been supported over the pathway. They’ve also got a couple of giant redwoods, so that was neat to see too!

12. Hershey Chocolate supplied the US military with chocolate bars during World War II. These bars were called Ration D Bars and Tropical Bars. The Tropical Bars were designed to not melt in the tropical weather. It is estimated that between 1940 and 1945, over 3 billion of the Ration D Bars and Tropical Bars were produced and distributed to soldiers throughout the world. In 1939, the Hershey plant was capable of producing 100,000 ration bars a day. By the end of World War II, the entire Hershey plant was producing ration bars at a rate of 24 million a week. For their service throughout World War II, the Hershey Chocolate Company was issued five Army-Navy 'E' Production Awards for exceeding expectations for quality and quantity in the production of the Ration D Bar and Tropical Bar.

13. Chocolate World – Honestly I’m not sure when or how or why Chocolate World happened except that it is of course the main souvenir/candy place in the town. My husband recalls that they used to give tours of the actual Hershey factory, but quit because they did not people touching things, as I think we can all understand! There is a ride inside Chocolate World that takes you through a simulated factory and shows the candy producing process, complete with singing puppet cows! LOL! They had a few types of Kisses and such that I haven’t seen at home, so of course we came home with candy! They had also introduced a new Hershey Bar with a green tea flavored filling, it’s very green inside! Tastes nice though, not being a green tea fan I didn’t know what to expect, but it was subtle.

There is actually a lot of information out there about Mr. Hershey, so I was a little surprised that I hadn’t known more about him than I did. It was definitely an interesting trip, and I feel like I got a first hand history lesson to boot! Thanks for stopping by!


  1. This was hard to read on an empty stomach!

  2. Now you have me craving chocolate. Happy TT.

  3. Mmm...chocolate! I bet it was a great trip.

  4. Chocolate! One of my favourite subjects.

  5. I hope you had your car windows open as you drove can literally SMELL chocolate on the drive there!

    Mine's shared...C U THERE!!

  6. Sounds like a great trip you had. Very interesting info. Happy T13!

  7. Way cool, Shauney. Would you believe I live only hours from Hershey and have never been there? Well, I think I remember going there as a kid, with my youth group, but other than that, nope.

    I ought to check our school calendar for next year and pick an off weekend when we have an inservice day or something, and take the kids up. That'd make it less expensive.

  8. Great list, I love facts about things. I am up too.

  9. mmmm-mmmmmm!!

    aww - the fact about his school is so very sweet. (ha, no pun intended!)

  10. I don't think my husband could have pried me out of the gift shop. *L* Very interesting information on a man who should be held in high esteem by all chocolate lovers.

  11. A very yummy 13. I did a chocolate TT a few weeks ago and included some Hershey facts and Hershey World photo. :-)

  12. Daelith, I did sort of have gift shop overload! At one point I just got totally frustrated because I couldn't decide what I wanted to get and just had to sit down and think about it (luckily there were lots of benches for just such an emergency!) We flew, so there was only so much chocolate we could take home with us!

  13. Now that is a fun TT! There were all sorts of things I didn't know about Mr. Hershey, apparently.

    I hope that you had a great trip.

  14. They are in the shape of kisses. How funny.


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