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