Milton S. Hershey

Biography of Milton Hershey. The man who is famous for his chocolate bars, began his candy-making business with caramels. He then added milk to chocolate, which in turn created not only an empire, but the ultimate company town.

Milton Snavely Hershey was born on September 13, 1857 in Derry Township, Pennsylvania. After his formal education ended in the fourth grade, young Hershey became an apprentice to a printer in the town of Gap, PA.

However, just like his formal education was doomed, so was Hershey's days as a printer. He then moved on to apprentice a candy-maker in Lancaster, and it was here that Hershey discovered his gift. In 1876, he opened his first candy shop, which failed by 1882.

He then moved to Denver, Colorado, and began working with a caramel manufacturer. Here, Hershey discovered the art of making candy with fresh milk, in this case with caramel.

After attempts at opening businesses in various locations around the country, Hershey returned to Lancaster in 1886 where he opened the Lancaster Caramel Company. His new-fangled milk caramels were very popular.

He became interested in chocolate production after the Chicago International Exposition in 1893, and eventually began producing chocolate in his caramel plant. At first, he sold chocolate-covered caramels. Later, he branched out to to breakfast cocoa, sweet chocolate and baking chocolate.

In 1900, he sold the Caramel Company, but retained the rights to his chocolate. He returned to Derry Township, where he could take advantage of both the prosperous dairy farms and his own innovation of using milk to mass produce chocolate products. In 1905, Hershey's Chocolate was born.

But Hershey's business was more than an ordinary business. He turned the Hershey Chocolate enterprise into the quintessential company town, similar to the company towns of the Pennsylvania coal regions. The community, named Hershey, was built with employee satisfaction in mind. In his community, he built churches, a bank, department store, schools, and parks. For his employees' leisure time, he had a zoo and an amusement park built. He ordered the construction of a trolley system for the employees who did not live in this new, growing town. During the Great Depression, Hershey began another building spree in his town to keep the local residents gainfully employed. He built a grand hotel, a community building, a new office building for the chocolate business, and a sports arena.

With all that he did to create a thriving community in the Pennsylvania dairy-farm region, many believe that Hershey's greatest contribution to his society was the Hershey School for children of troubled families. Like all of Hershey's endeavors, the Hershey School thrives today.

Milton Hershey, the man who believed that success was meaningless unless he shared it, died on October 13, 1945. But the smell of chocolate still floats through his town, the hospital he built is now a medical school affiliated with Penn State, his amusement park is famed for its roller coasters, and the Hershey Bar is still as good as ever.

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