Since we have two weeks before our next project starts, we decided to stay in Pennsylvania for a week and do some sight-seeing. There is a Thousand Trails campground just outside Hershey, so we stayed there for a week.
Our site was very nice,
and the geese kept us entertained while we were there.
We started our sightseeing at the Hershey Chocolate World
He was born near where he built the factory, in this house, when only the center, brick part existed. His great grandparents built it in 1826 on 350 acres.
His father later lost the house to auction for taxes, but Milton later purchased it back and the president of the Hershey schools lives there now, and some activity was going on when we drove by.
Many of the mansions in town were built for his upper management and are still owned by the company. This one was occupied by Mr. Wm. Murrie, president of Hershey’s Chocolate.
His son, Bruce, was one of the M’s of the candy, M&M. Mr. Mars, the other M, received a patent for his own process in 1941. There was an arrangement that allowed M&M candies to be made with Hershey chocolate, which had control of the rationed chocolate.
Hershey was successful, after many failures, with caramel candies. He started with chocolate in 1895 to cover the caramels, and was selling the chocolate to other confectioners. He then sold his caramel candy company for a million dollars (in 1900!) and began to focus on the chocolate. He was the first American to develop milk chocolate, introducing the milk chocolate bar in 1900. He first developed Hershey’s Kisses in 1907.
He built his factory in 1903
Before his factory was complete, he set up a transit trolley system, and right
after the factory was built, in 1905, had a community center built to provide store, post office, boarding house and lunchroom. He also provided laundry, blacksmith, cafe and barber shop, and a department store.
He constructed homes for employees, but wanted them to look individual, not a typical “company” house. Our guide told us he sold them to employees, charging no interest.
Because he knew the workers needed recreation, he planned a park in 1910 to include playground, band shell for concerts, swimming pool, a zoo and a bowling alley.
Today, the amusement park, Hershey Park, is 110 acres, with 60 rides, including 10 roller coasters.
He added a Hotel in the 1930’s, employing workers during the depression.
Also during the depression, in 1933, he built a new community center, six stories tall with indoor swimming, a gymnasium, library, hospital, and theater. Later it became a Junior college until 1965, and now is used as offices for Hershey.
In 1909, he set up a boarding school for orphan boys, located at his birthplace. He created the Milton Hershey School Trust and endowed it with 486 acres. The initial enrollment was 10 students. Now students live in homes with dorm parents (who have their own attached apartment). It now allows enrollment of girls as well, and provides free K-12 education to 1800 students, on 9,000 acre campus. Focus was on industrial arts at first, but now encourages college, giving $80,000 scholarships to qualifying students. None of his schools get any government funding at all.
Industrial arts are still available in the original school which is now the middle school.
We learned a lot there as well! The building has a 3D film we watched, lots of shops, and other candy related activities, so you can spend a LOT of time (and money!) there.
It was a fun, informative day.