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Milton S. Hershey


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.

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.

He then served a four-year apprenticeship with a Lancaster candy maker, after which he established his first candy-making business in Philadelphia. That initial effort failed, as did his next two attempts in Chicago. His mother's family financed several of these unsuccessful ventures in the candy industry.

Lancaster Caramel CompanyReturning to Lancaster in 1883, Hershey established the Lancaster Caramel Company, which quickly became an outstanding success. Utilizing a caramel recipe he had obtained during his previous travels, his company soared to the top. It was this business that established him as a candy maker, and set the stage for future accomplishments.

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.


Hershey Chocolate

With the proceeds from the caramel factory, Hershey acquired some 40,000 acres (160 km²) of undeveloped land north of Lancaster, near his birthplace of Derry Church. There he could obtain the large supplies of fresh milk needed to perfect and produce fine milk chocolate. Excited by the potential of milk chocolate, which at that time was a Swiss luxury product, Hershey was determined to develop a formula for milk chocolate and market and sell it to the American public. Through trial and error he created his own formula for milk chocolate. In 1903 he began construction on what was to become the world's largest chocolate manufacturing plant. The facility, completed in 1905, was designed to manufacture chocolate using the latest mass production techniques. Hershey's milk chocolate quickly became the first nationally marketed product of its kind.

The factory was in the center of dairy farmland, but with Hershey's support, houses, businesses, churches, and a transportation infrastructure accreted around the plant. Because the land was surrounded by dairy farms, he was able to use fresh milk to mass-produce quality milk chocolate. Hershey continued to experiment and perfect the process of making milk chocolate using the techniques he had first learned for adding milk to make caramels.

The Town of HersheyHershey 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.

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, community center, Hershey Theatre, the HersheyPark Arena and HersheyPark Stadium were constructed, transforming the town into a tourist attraction.



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. 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.

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.

The founding of the Penn State Hershey Medical Center/Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center occurred when the board of the trust went to the Dauphin County Orphans Court with the cy pres doctrine ( cy pres is a French phrase meaning "As close as possible"). It was a gift from the Milton Hershey School Trust to the people of Pennsylvania, with an initial endowment of $50 million and only one restriction—the hospital must be built in Hershey. The hospital is a teaching hospital with an annual budget exceeding the initial amount required to build it. It is part of Penn State University.



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. Instead, they booked passage to New York City on the German luxury liner Amerika. The Hershey Museum displays a copy of the check Hershey wrote to the White Star Line as a deposit for a first class stateroom on Titanic.

hershey and wife

World War II

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.



Milton S. Hershey died at the age of 88 on October 13, 1945, in Hershey Hospital, a year after he had retired from the board.

Source: encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com

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