Sweet, Satisfying and Inspiring! (Encouragement for Creators)


In the late 1800s, the American candy maker Milton S. Hershey had a dream to make chocolate both available and affordable to the general public. Despite two failed business ventures, Hershey persevered and, in 1900, he introduced the first Hersey Milk Chocolate Bar. (See our previous post.) But the candy man’s dreams and creations went further. Seven years later, he developed and treated Americans to Hershey’s Kisses! The following year he gave us the Hershey Bar with Almonds!

But Hershey’s innovations and contributions went far beyond chocolate. In his future were further creations, as well as numerous acts of philanthropy. Hershey truly wanted to help people in any way he could. Fortunately for all of us, he got his chance. But things might have turned out differently were it not for a sudden business matter Hershey needed to address on April 10, 1912. Before we explain further, we’ll continue with Milton Hershey’s accomplishments and acts of kindness.

In 1905, he completed construction on the world’s largest chocolate manufacturing company eat your heart out, Willy Wonka! — in the center of a dairy farming district in Pennsylvania. Soon after, his delicious milk chocolate became the first nationally-marketed brand of candy.

Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, a character loosely based on Hershey, in the 1971 movie Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory: “I’m just a fictional character, but Milton … he’s a real hero!”

But Hershey didn’t stop there: with his support, homes, shops, churches, and a transportation system sprang up around his chocolate factory. In 1909, he established the Hershey Industrial School to help disadvantaged kids. He also founded a teaching hospital with an initial endowment of $50 million. Hershey once stated, “One is only happy in proportion as he makes others feel happy and only useful as he contributes his influences for the finer callings in life.”

Hershey’s company continued to spread happiness. During WWII his chocolate factory supplied the U.S. armed forces with specially-made chocolate bars. No small feat: The bars, two types called Ration D Bars and Tropical Chocolate Bars had to meet stringent military requirements. They had to weigh one or two ounces each, and resist melting at temperatures higher than 90 degrees. No problem!

Between 1940 and 1945, the Hershey plant produced and distributed over 3 billion chocolate bars to soldiers throughout the world. At the height of production the company was making 24 million chocolate ration bars a week, and it ultimately received five Army-Navy ‘E’ Production Awards for exceeding expectations for quality and quantity. (Sorry, Charley!) And, of course, the famous Hersheypark and Hershey Museum were yet to come. Milton Hershey’s many contributions are remembered there, and kids young and old delight to tour the chocolate factory.

Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka, in the 2005 movie Charley and the Chocolate Factory: “Milton, even I must tip my hat to your amazing accomplishments!”

Thank God this great man, who gave us so much, needed to attend to some last minute business affairs on the morning of April 10, 1912. You see, Hershey and his wife had booked passage from Southampton, England to New York on the maiden voyage of the ill-fated British luxury liner RMS Titanic. But something concerning the chocolate company suddenly came up, forcing the couple to cancel their reservations at the last minute! Whew!!

Hershey lived happily to the ripe old age of 88, blessing millions of people with his kindness and candy.


The Chocolatier Who Persevered (Diet for Dreamers)


Nothing says LOVE quite like chocolate. At least, that’s how the man who created Milk Chocolate Kisses felt. In fact, Milton S. Hershey was actually saddened that the rich, dark confection was available only to the wealthy, and even then, often only for special occasions. Hershey had big dreams of making chocolate both available and affordable to the general public. He dreamed of a day when the treat would be commonplace, and every day, everyone could have a chocolate kiss. But some of his sweet dreams could have ended up being lost at sea!

Hershey was born September 13, 1857. A descendant of Swiss and German ancestors, young Hershey grew up in a Pennsylvania Mennonite community. The future American entrepreneur originally spoke only Pennsylvania Dutch language, but that wouldn’t deter him from success in a mostly English-speaking business world. Hershey’s  father was something of a rover, and often left his wife and son for extended periods. As a result, Milton Hershey was forced to quit school after the 4th grade. But that wasn’t to be a deterrent to fame, fortune and philanthropy, either.

Backed financially by his mother’s family, Milton Hershey moved to Philadelphia in 1876 and started his first candy business. After only six years, the business went bankrupt, in 1882. Still undeterred, Milton started a second confectionery business a year later, this time in New York. Although initially successful, his new venture went belly up after three years.

Hershey returned to Lancaster, PA in 1886. His dream of bringing confections to the masses was still undimmed. So, using a candy recipe he’d picked up somewhere along the bumpy road to success, Hershey started the Lancaster Caramel Company. This business took off, producing sizable financial rewards and firmly establishing Hersey as a candymaker.

Hershey hadn’t made history yet, but he was about to. Hershey was enthusiastic about the potential of milk chocolate — at the time a luxury product available only to the upper class. He was determined to find a way to economically produce and sell it to the general public. So he sold his caramel company in 1900 and purchased a large piece of dairy land about 30 miles northwest of Lancaster, a move which ensured him large supplies of fresh milk for his cooking experiments.

Success: how sweet it is!  Hershey overcame obstacles and persevered; and a few months later, he introduced the Hershey Milk Chocolate Bar. It’s very tempting to stop typing here, so we can run out to the kitchen and grab one — preferably with almonds. Yes, right now!  Because we love chocolate! Actually, we’re chocoholics!  (Don’t judge us!) But we need to keep typing long enough to let you know Hershey’s tale isn’t over yet. Far from it. The man went on to make many more valuable contributions to the lives of Americans. He had new dreams to fulfill. But for a quirk of fate, these fabulous new visions might never have been realized. Everything — including the beloved “candy man” himself, might have been lost at sea.

Join us Friday for the tasty conclusion to this rich story!