Milton S. Hershey: The Real Willy Wonka

Milton S. Hershey: The Real Willy Wonka

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Milton Hershey was and still is one of the greatest chocolate makers of all time. He was the man who turned a bare patch of land into a thriving chocolate town and pulled everybody through the Great Depression. But, Hershey is best remembered to be the person who made chocolate popular in America and other parts of the world. Many people today know and purchase the infamous chocolate products that have been produced by the Hershey Factory, but some know about how the business became to be so successful.
Milton S. Hershey was born in a small Pennsylvania town named Derry Township on September 13, 18571. He was the only child of Fannie and Henry Hershey. His mother was a Mennonite2 and moved often, which disrupted his education and could only finish 4th grade3. Hershey became an apprentice of a Lancaster candy maker for four years and started to get into the candy business. Milton opened his first candy store in Philadelphia on 1876 at the age of 184which failed after 6 years and went bankrupt on 1882.5 Milton then tried his luck at opening candy stores at Chicago and New York, both resulting in failure and went bankrupt again on 1886.6 When Milton visited Denver, he discovered how to mix fresh milk with caramel and returned to Lancaster to start a caramel business on 1883. 7his business proved to be a huge success and was named the Lancaster Caramel Company8. The success of this caramel company was the thing that set Milton as a candy maker and provided him with financial stability to start on his next interest, chocolate. Milton purchased his first chocolate-making equipment from a German company called J.M.Lehmamm Company on 1893 that was displayed in the World’s Columbian Expedition9. He started a sub-company called Hershey Chocolate Company under the Lancaster Caramel Company and began to produce chocolates. On 1900, Hershey sold his successful caramel company for $1,000, 0010and in order to set his sights to begin mass-producing chocolate. Hershey needed a place to produce that much chocolate and returned to Derry Township, PA to build his new factory on 1903. The Derry Township was an ideal location for producing chocolate because of its source of water, fresh milk, and workers. The factory, later named The Chocolate Factory was built on 1905 and used latest mass production techniques that produced the first milk chocolate that was made in America 11.

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Hershey’s milk chocolate was the first nationally marketed product of its kind.
The 40000-acre land12 that Hershey purchased near Derry Township was put to good use. Around The Chocolate Factory: there were public transportation systems, houses, recreational centers like zoos and sports arenas, and the infamous Hershey Industrial School that was first opened for orphan boys but was later opened to the rest of the public. The houses and schools let the workers have a reason to work at the factory, increasing production, and with these public facilities the workers could establish a closer relationship or tie to the Hershey factory. The handful of buildings and facilities around the factory became a town called Hershey, with the Chocolate Factory in the center13. The Hershey Industrial School14 was one of Milton Hershey’s proudest accomplishments. Even though Milton Hershey did not have any offspring, he loved children. When he had died, he left his enormous fortunes to fund his school and gave the rest to charity.
Milton S. Hershey married Catherine “Kitty”15 Sweeney on May 25, 1898. But when Catherine died on 1915from a progressive neurological disease16, Hershey was dealt with a heavy blow and never remarried. In honor of her memory, he had built a Hershey Industrial School Trust Fund to fund the school.
During The Great Depression, Hershey came up with the “Great Building Campaign”17 in order to keep workers employed. As a result, the town expanded in size including the construction of the famous Hotel Hershey that was opened to public on May 26th, 193318.
After Milton S. Hershey passed away on October 13, 1945 19 his legacy lived on. He had lived a good year of 88 and had shown the world that a small town boy can strike it rich with patience and determination. The Hershey’s Company is the biggest North American manufacturer of chocolate and sugar confectionary products and gains a profit of about $5 billion dollars a year20. The Hershey’s Company exports their products to over 90 countries around the world21. The Hershey factory today is opened to the public along with its other tourist attractions such as the hotel, zoo, amusement park, and the sports arena and has more than 10 million people visit Hershey every year22. The Hershey Industrial School was later renamed Milton Hershey School and is open to the public. In honor of Hershey’s dedication to the school, Hershey was buried near the school with his family. The lamplights on Hershey are shaped like Hershey Kisses and the streets are named after chocolates. The town of Hershey has over 12000 people living in the chocolaty town23 and is the result of Hershey’s constant dedication and love toward the workers. Hershey’s accomplishments and his dedication to chocolate still lived on today and Milton S. Hershey was truly the real Willy Wonka.
Coyle, Millie Landis. “Milton Snavely Hershey.” Hershey Township Society. 2006. Historical Society. 2 Feb. 2008 .

Halbleib, John. “Milton S. Hershey - His Deeds are His Monument, His Life is Our Inspiration." Milton S. Hershey. 2004. The Hershey Harrisburg Welcoming Center. 2 Feb. 2008 <>.

Hershey Company. “Milton S. Hershey.” Hershey’s. 2008. Hershey’s. 2 Feb. 2008 .

Hershey Entertainment & Resorts. “100 Sweet Facts About Hershey.” Hershey The Sweetest Place On Earth. 2007. Hershey Entertainment & Resorts. 2 Feb. 2008 .

Hershey Entertainment & Resorts. “History of Milton S. Hershey.” Hershey The Sweetest Place On Earth. 2008. Hershey Entertainment and Resorts. 2 Feb. 2008 .

Shapiro, Phil. “The Story of Milton Hershey.” 1995. Phil Shapiro’s Home Page. 2 Feb. 2008 .
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