Hershey’s company originated with candy-manufacturer Milton Hershey’s decision in 1894 to produce sweet chocolate as a coating for his caramels. Located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the new enterprise was named the Hershey Chocolate Company. In 1900, the company began producing milk chocolate in bars, wafers and other shapes. With mass production, Hershey was able to lower the per-unit cost and make milk chocolate, once a luxury item for the wealthy, affordable to all. A company on the move.
The immediate success of Hershey’s low-cost, high-quality milk chocolate soon caused the company’s owner to consider increasing his production facilities. He decided to build a new chocolate factory amid the gently rolling farmland of south-central Pennsylvania in Derry Township, where he had been born. Close to the ports of New York and Philadelphia that supplied the imported sugar and cocoa beans needed, surrounded by dairy farms that provided the milk required, and the location was perfect. By the summer of 1905, the new factory was turning out delicious milk chocolate. New products, hard times.
Throughout the next two decades, even more products were added to the company’s offerings. These included MR. GOODBAR Candy Bar (1925), HERSHEY’S Syrup (1926), HERSHEY'S chocolate chips (1928) and the KRACKEL bar (1938). Despite the Great Depression of the 1930s, these products helped the newly incorporated Hershey Chocolate Corporation maintain its profitability and avoid any worker layoffs. HERSHEY’S chocolate goes to war.
With the outbreak of World War II, the Hershey Chocolate Corp. (which had provided milk chocolate bars to American doughboys in the first war) was already geared up to start producing a survival ration bar for military use. By the end of the war, more than a billion Ration D bars had been produced and the company had earned no less than five Army-Navy “E” Production Awards for its exceptional contributions to the war effort. In fact, the company’s machine shop even turned out parts for the Navy’s antiaircraft guns. A family friend becomes a family member.
The postwar period saw the introduction of a host of new products and the acquisition of an old one. Since 1928, H.B. “Harry” Reese’s Candy Company, also located in Hershey, had been making chocolate-covered peanut butter cups. Given that Hershey Chocolate Company supplied the coating for REESE’S “penny cups," (the wrapper said, “Made in Chocolate Town, So They Must Be Good”), it was not surprising that the two companies had a good relationship. As a result, seven years after Reese’s death in 1956, the H.B. Reese Candy Company was sold to Hershey Chocolate Corp. Growing up and branching out.
The following decades would see the company - renamed Hershey Foods Corporation in 1968 - expanding its confectionery product lines, acquiring related companies and even diversifying into other food products. Among the many acquisitions were San Giorgio Macaroni and Delmonico Foods (1966); manufacturing and marketing rights to English candy company Rowntree MacKintosh’s products (1970); Y&S Candies, makers of TWIZZLERS licorice (1977); Dietrich Corp.’s confectionery operations (1986); Peter Paul/Cadbury’s U.S. confectionery operations (1988); and Ronzoni Foods (1990). The Hershey Company enters a new century.
Today, The Hershey Company is the leading North American manufacturer of chocolate and non-chocolate confectionery and grocery products. As the new millennium begins, The Hershey Company continues to introduce new products frequently and take advantage of growth opportunities through acquisitions. HERSHEY’S products are known and enjoyed all over the world. In fact, the company exports to over 90 countries. The Hershey Company remains committed to the vision and values of the man who started it all so many years ago. A New Company: 1894
In the beginning, the Hershey Chocolate Company was simply a wholly owned subsidiary of Milton...