There aren’t many food products that just about every person in America has eaten, but Hershey’s makes plenty of them. Hershey’s Kisses, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Twizzlers, Almond Joy… the list goes on and on. But behind the chocolate bar is a huge company and a man named Hershey, and we bet there are some things you didn’t know about them.
Before it was the largest chocolate manufacturer in America, the Hershey Chocolate Company was the brainchild of Milton Hershey, a Pennsylvania Dutch Mennonite who after two failed attempts at launching his own candy company decided to focus on an increasingly popular confection: chocolate. He bought a milk processing plant in order to perfect his milk chocolate (which was then a luxury product), and once he did, he built a plant on farmland in his Pennsylvania hometown, which was renamed Hershey in 1905. All of his employees lived in the factory town, and were well provided for.
The company grew rapidly over the ensuing years as Hershey’s cocoa and chocolate bars proved to be huge successes. In 1907, Kisses were introduced, peanut-filled Mr. Goodbar was rolled out in 1925, Hershey’s Syrup the following year, semi-sweet dark chocolate chips in 1928, and the crisped-rice filled Krackel bar in 1938. The company has been nothing short of a juggernaut for well over 100 years, and shows no sign of slowing down.
Hershey, Pennsylvania, is today still home to one of the company’s many plants, as well as a boarding school founded by Hershey, a stadium, a 10,500-seat arena, the Hershey Hotel, the Hershey Museum, a hospital, and the legendary Hersheypark, which was founded all the way back in 1906 as a leisure park for the company’s employees. The Hershey company employs 13,000 employees and its products are sold in more than 60 countries worldwide, and although Hershey passed away in 1945, he would certainly be proud if he could see the legacy of his ideas. Read on for 11 things you didn’t know about Hershey’s.
Milton Hershey Got His Start Making Caramels, Not Chocolate
After launching two unsuccessful confectionary businesses in Philadelphia and New York, which lasted six years and three years, respectively, Hershey returned to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and launched the Lancaster Caramel Company in 1886 using a recipe he acquired on his travels. The company was a massive success. He sold it for $1 million in 1900 (the equivalent of more than $28 million today) and focused his attentions on chocolate, stating that “caramels are just a fad, but chocolate is a permanent thing.”
Hershey, Pennsylvania, Was Originally Named Derry Church
“The Sweetest Place on Earth” was purchased by Hershey in 1903, and the following year, a contest was held to find a suitable name for the town. Mrs. T.K. Doyle of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, came up with the winning entry, Hersheykoko, but by the time the town was officially re-christened in 1905, “koko” had gone by the wayside.