Last week, I wrote about our favorite amusement park. After visiting Knobels, we stopped for a day at Hershey Park, Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Hershey is probably the most widely known brand of chocolate in the United States. It does not have a strong international presence, however, and readers from other countries might not know about it.
Milton Hershey founded the company. He failed in business five times before succeeding making caramels. He sold the caramel business and used the proceeds to build his own model town in the Pennsylvania countryside and a chocolate factory. He built the amusement park for his employees and residents in the town.
In 2019, a large area was fenced off for new construction. It is for a fifteenth and largest roller coaster and new section known as “Chocolatetown” to be opened in 2020.
1919 Philadelphia Toboggan Co. carousel: 42 jumping horses; 24 stationary, 2 chariots – 2nd largest of its type.
“Hershey Chocolate” became the basis for Milton Hershey’s fortune, now estimated at over fourteen billion dollars. The fence is lined with photographs illustrating his life, the town of Hershey and Hershey Park. There is a photograph of Milton Hershey and about 18 of his “boys” [some barely visible]. The park is owned by a trust for the benefit of the thousands of Milton Hershey’s “children.”
Thousands of children, you ask. During his life, Milton Hershey called them “my boys.”
In 1909, he and his wife Catherine, unable to have children of their own, created The Hershey Industrial School for boys who had lost a parent to give them a home, a trade and a high school diploma [a diploma was held by only 10% of the people at the time].
The carousel still uses a 1926 military band organ with 164 pipes and 16 bells.
In 1918, Hershey quietly with no publicity transferred the majority of his company to a trust for the school. That trust owns the majority of The Hershey Company. The trust owns all of the Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company, the parent company of Hershey park. Milton Hershey continued to oversea his company until 1945 when he passed on at age 88.
Now known as Milton Hershey School, it is open to girls as well as boys and children of all races. The child no longer has to have a deceased parent. The goal is to “break the cycle of poverty” by giving low income children a stable place to live and an excellent education. The school accepts children between the ages of 4 and 16 and takes full responsibility for them.
Today, the school is home to over two thousand children. It offers post-secondary school help as well. Vocational education is still available, but more than 60 percent of the students go on to a four-year college.
When you buy a Hershey product, and indeed, while you are enjoying yourself in Hershey Park, you are supporting one of Milton and Catherine Hershey’s “children.”
A friend and I rode this; I think we were 30 years older than the next oldest person in line.
Eddie English and I operated a shooting gallery on this site in 1962.
Milton Hershey purchased this elk for the park in 1913.
Meet a piece of chocolate
These young men actually won those bears — amazing.
In this day of “fake news,” I have seen items on Facebook and elsewhere saying Hershey chocolate has moved or is moving to Mexico urging people not to buy Hershey products. It is fake news. By the 1960s, the company had become stagnant. It had no international presence, it did no advertising. Management changed course. It acquired other candy companies and their plants across the country [Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are its best seller]. It acquired the rights to make foreign brands like Cadbury in the United States. It opened plants in California and Canada and Brazil. It has operated in Mexico for forty years, and some manufacturing in California and Canada was moved to Mexico in 2008. However, the company remains centered in Hershey, Pennsylvania where it built a new and expanded chocolate plant in 2012. Its most recent expansion was construction of a facility to produce Kit Kat products in Hazel Township, PA.
Click on photos to enlarge; back click to return to the post.
Date of our visit: 31 May 19
P.S. If you know of a child that might benefit by going to the school or are interested in working at the school, especially as a houseparent, visit MHSkids.org.