Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Chocolate, Hershey, and Dimmed Legacies

You know you have arrived in Hershey when you see the flags and Kisses lining the Main Street.

I was prepared to spend about fifteen minutes in Hershey before moving on.  It seemed a bit contrived and clearly touristy but once there my curiosity to know know more of the back story of this quaint all American town was peaked.

 The old Hershey smoke stacks tower over the Hershey skyline.

After a brief drive around town we head to the Hershey Museum to get the background of this quaint little town that looks like a set out of the Willy Wonka Movie.  Billed as the Sweetest Place on Earth, this place had my attention with the mention of CHOCOLATE.

Milton Hershey payed close attention to the rapid development of the chocolate-making industry in the late 1800's   With the sale of his Lancaster Caramel Company to the American Caramel Company in August 1900 for $1,000,000, Hershey now had the money to expand his chocolate business.  After exploring several sites in and around Lancaster, Hershey decided to construct his new factory in a new location. 

After considering several urban sites along the eastern seaboard, Milton Hershey rejected traditional urban locations for his chocolate factory and instead decided to place his business in the country.  He chose a site in Derry Township, near the place of his birth where he already owned property and could purchase additional property at reasonable prices.  The area offered plenty of fresh milk, dependable labor force, and access to urban regional retail transportation centers.

The town (renamed Hershey) soon developed following a plan that had been carefully thought out by Mr. Hershey. Workmen started digging the foundation for the Hershey chocolate factory in early 1903. Before the year was half over, a school and several other key buildings were also underway. In designing his community, Mr. Hershey was influenced by other “manufacturing communities” which were springing up at the turn of the century, both in this country and abroad.
Like other “model towns” Hershey provided its residents with a wholesome environment, modern educational facilities and medical facilities, and affordable housing.

            Milton and Catherine Hershey                 

Milton Hershey also saw Hershey, PA as a tourist destination and plans to include parks and other attractions were added to his vision.

                Mansions Abound

 In 1916, the Hershey Zoo, the largest free private zoo in America at the time, opened to the public.


During the desperate times of the Great Depression, Hershey wrote checks to the five churches of $20,000 each helping the churches pay off debts incurred during those hard times.

The town continued to grow and prosper.
 By 1935, more than 50,000 people a year toured the factory. 

Though Milton Hershey died in 1945, the town and chocolate company as well as the various industries and philanthropies which bear his name continue to keep his dream and vision alive. 

 As times changed so have the company and sadly maybe so has the vision.

Turbulent Times

On July 25, 2002 it became public knowledge that the Hershey Trust Company seeking to sell its controlling interest in the Hershey Foods Corporation. The value of Hershey stock skyrocketed 25% with over 19 million shares trading that day. But over the following 55 days, widespread press coverage, as well as pressure from Pennsylvania Attorney General Mike Fisher, the community of Hershey, and Dauphin County Orphans' Court Senior Judge Warren G. Morgan, led to the sale being abandoned. The seven Hershey trustees who voted to sell Hershey Foods were removed by Attorney General Fisher and Judge Morgan. Ten of the 17 trustees were forced to resign. The former Pennsylvania Attorney General, LeRoy S. Zimmerman, became the new chairman of the reconstituted Milton Hershey School Trustees. Mr. Zimmerman has publicly committed to having the Milton Hershey School Trust always retain its interest in The Hershey Company

In February 2007, Hershey's announced it would be cutting more than ten percent of its US workforce and closing some of its U.S. plants.   By December 2007 the company no longer has facilities in Canada and other plant closures include facilities in Oakdale, California; Naugatuck, Connecticut; and Reading, Pennsylvania.  
 The company is built a new facility in Monterrey, Mexico, and it is setting up a joint manufacturing venture in China with Lotte Confectionery of South Korea. 

 On September 18, 2012, Hershey opened a new and expanded West Hershey plant.

Progress or Purely Profit ?? 


  1. I wonder if we were there at the same time this year. Was the RV show in progress? Did you guys go make a candy bar? We did that in 2012 and it was so much fun. Hope you did.

  2. Nice visit and lots of good information about the company. I worked a large company many years ago who headed for the Mexican boarder. They gave these people everything but in less than a year the company was in big trouble do to thefts by said workers, 2 other major companies did the same thing and in 1 yr suffered the same disaster. I think they were after the profit but only got sunk. Sure would hate to see this happen to Hershey's dream