The Candy Man

Milton Hershey was born in 1857 on a farm outside of Derry Church, Pennsylvania. He spent many of his early years trailing around after his father who, by all accounts, was something of a dreamer – always on the lookout for the next big opportunity but lacking the perseverance to stick anything out. By the time Milton was ten, his father was out of the picture and his upbringing was taken over by his strict Mennonite mother, Fanny, who instilled in her son the importance and value of hard work.

Fanny Hershey - clearly not one to be messed with!
Fanny Hershey – clearly not one to be messed with!

After dropping out of school at the age of fourteen, Hershey expressed interest in candy making and became an apprentice to a confectioner in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Four years later, Hershey borrowed some money and set up his own candy store. Despite working hard and pouring everything he had into the business it was not a success, so he sold up and headed west, reuniting with his father in Colorado. Here he learned about caramel and how it can be made with fresh milk. This became his new obsession. He started businesses in Chicago and then New York but both failed.

Milton Hershey on the left as a teenager.
Milton Hershey on the right as a teenager.

Hershey returned to Lancaster still convinced he could run a successful candy company. He started the Lancaster Caramel Company and finally success was his. Soon he was shipping his caramels all over the world.


At an exposition in Chicago in 1893, Hershey was introduced to the art of chocolate making and he was hooked. He was particularly interested in milk chocolate, which was seen as a delicacy and something only the Swiss could make. Hershey was determined to find a way to mass produce and distribute milk chocolate candy.

In 1900, Hershey sold his caramel company for a staggering one million dollars. Three years later he began construction on a huge, modern candy-making factory near Derry Church. As the Hershey Chocolate company flourished, Hershey began to create a model community in his home town. He built schools, parks, churches, housing for his employees, and the town that sprung up around the factory became known as Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Hershey factory in the 1970's.
Hershey factory in the 1970’s.

We made a quick visit to Hershey last Thursday evening. It was very much a visit for Olive and Edie – neither Richard or I are fans of Hershey chocolate. Quite frankly it’s not a patch on a block of good old kiwi Whittaker’s and after consuming a fair amount of Belgian chocolate in Antwerp, it kind of ruins you for anything else! We stayed a night in the big old Hershey hotel (I was handed room keys and four blocks of chocolate!) and then spent Friday morning making our own chocolate bars and having our minds boggled by the size of both the Hershey store itself and the bars of chocolate in it!!

Note the Hershey kiss shaped lamp posts!
Note the Hershey kiss shaped lamp posts!
Just what every mother wants for Mother's day...a huge block of sugar!!!
Just what every mother wants for Mother’s day…a huge block of sugar!!!
Stylish chocolate making outfits were compulsory.
Stylish chocolate making outfits were compulsory.
The girls were say the least.
The girls were fascinated…to say the least.
Designing your own packaging was an important part of the process...and on a side note...aren't we all just loving Richard's beard net :)
Designing your own packaging was an important part of the process…and on a side note…aren’t we all just loving Richard’s beard net 🙂
Then we took a ride into the world of Hershey chocolate...girls loving it...Richard suitably unimpressed!
Then we took a ride into the world of Hershey chocolate…girls loving it…Richard suitably unimpressed!
My favourite part was all the old packaging and advertising.
My favourite part was all the old packaging and advertising.

There is an amusement park in Hershey too but…alas…it hadn’t yet opened for the summer season. The girls were quite happy with their personalised blocks of chocolate and Richard and I were very happy that we can now cross Hershey off our to do list!

From Hershey we headed to Gettysburg, where we had a fascinating time, about which I’ll write later!

And for those of you who are interested I’ve done a very long overdue update on what the girls and I are reading at the moment.

Take care everyone – sending all our love xxx


2 Replies to “The Candy Man”

  1. Lovely blog, so informative and because of its title all I keep hearing is Sammy Davies’s version of the “Candy Man”. What a wonderful hands on experience.
    Yes Chris our Whittaker’s is excellent and as an aside the “Domestic Goddess” herself Nigella was here in Wellington at the Railway Station of all places, doing a new commercial for Whittakers, with all the commuters acting as extras.
    One such commuter was asked the usual dumb question, about what it was like
    to see Nigella and the young girl who answered after saying all the appropriate things finished her comment with “she did do the right thing by divorcing her husband”. I couldn’t stop laughing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: