Obit of the Day (Historical): Milton S. Hershey (1945)
The first Hershey Bar was sold in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1894. Made by Milton S. Hershey in an effort to replicate the delicacy of Swiss milk chocolate,its success allowed Hershey to open the world’s largest chocolate factory in 1905 in Derry Church, PA. In the intervening forty years Hershey Chocolate Company not only introduced Hershey Kisses (1907), Mr. Goodbar (1925), Hershey’s Syrup (1926) and Krackel (1938) but also provided Ration D and Tropical Chocolate bars to soldiers in World War II. (The latter two confections would not melt at temperatures as high as 90° fahrenheit and could not be too tasty so that the troops would not crave them.)
Mr. Hershey also transformed Derry Church into Hershey, Pennsylvania one of the most famous company towns in U.S. history. The town that Hershey built for his employees included public transportation, a hospital, and even an amusement park, now known as HersheyPark. Although no longer owned by Hershey Cholocate Company, the town is a popular tourist attraction in PA and bills itself as “The Sweetest Place on Earth.”
In 1910, Hershey and his wife Catherine also established the Hershey Industrial School as “a cost-free, private, coeducational home and school for children from families of low income, limited resources, and social need.” The school, renamed the Milton Hershey School in 1951, is now funded by revenues from HersheyPark and the adjacent resort and spa. (The spa has some of the best hot chocolate ever.)
Mr. Hershey died on this date in 1945.
Random note #1: From The Emperors of Chocolate by Joël Glenn Brenner: “In making the milk solution [as a base for his chocolate], Hershey had hit upon a method (as chemists would later explain) that allowed the lipase enzymes in the milk to break down the remaining milk fat and produce flavorful free fatty acids. In other words, it was slightly soured. [emphasis mine]
Random note #2: Milton and Catherine Hershey had reserved a state room on the HMS Titanic but never made the trip because Mrs. Hershey fell ill.
Sources for this post: wikipedia.org, Milton Hershey School, and hersheys.com
(Image copyright Hershey Chocolate Company and courtesy of Found in Mom’s Basement.)