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 Hershey’s Lancaster Caramel Company. Using chocolate-making equipment purchased at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the company produced baking chocolate, cocoa and sweet chocolate coatings for the parent company’s caramels. But things changed with the hiring of William Murrie to sell the excess product to other confectioners. Murrie was so successful a salesman that the Hershey Chocolate Company quickly turned into a viable concern on its own. Milton Hershey became even more convinced that his future in the candy business lay in chocolate, not caramels. Sweet Chocolate Novelties: 1895 – 1909
By 1895, the Hershey Chocolate Company was manufacturing 114 different items in all sorts of sizes and shapes. Many were flavored with vanilla and given luxurious-sounding names like LeRoi de Chocolate, Petit Bouquets and Chocolate Croquettes. Chocolate “segars” and cigarettes were also quite popular. Some chocolate cigarettes and cigars, such as Vassar Gems and Smart Set Cigarettes, were purposely marketed to women as an alternative to the tobacco variety. Chocolate was also touted as a source of quick energy for athletes. The Baby in the Bean: 1898
On August 1, 1898, the company adopted a very distinctive symbol for its trademark. The small child in a cocoa bean pod appeared on cans of HERSHEY’S COCOA up until 1936, when it was finally replaced by the block lettering familiar today. The “Baby in the Bean” went through many incarnations, sometimes holding a cup of cocoa, sometimes a chocolate bar. Even the child’s hair and facial expression underwent changes over the years. The logo symbol was finally retired in 1968, when the company was reorganized as Hershey Foods Corporation. Finding the Formula: 1895 – 1904
While his company was successful enough selling sweet chocolate products, Milton Hershey was certain the real market lay in milk chocolate. The problem was in developing a formula for manufacturing it cheaply and efficiently, while still maintaining a high level of quality. Hershey built a milk-processing plant on the family farm in Derry Township in 1896 and spent the next several years developing a viable formulation for milk chocolate. Hershey worked day and night, going back and forth between the condensing room and the creamery, rarely even stopping for meals. Finally, in 1899, he cracked the recipe and became the first American to manufacture milk chocolate. Hershey Goes to Cuba: 1916
With the onset of World War I, the European beet sugar, which Hershey had been using to make his milk chocolate, became increasingly scarce. So, searching for a more dependable source, Milton Hershey started acquiring cane sugar plantations and constructing refineries in Cuba. Typically, he also established a planned community for the workers, called Central Hershey, based on the Pennsylvania model. Hershey’s Cuban holdings eventually included 60,000 acres of land, five mills, a 251-mile railroad and, not surprisingly, a school for orphaned children. By the end of World War II, the company found it no longer needed its Cuban sources, and its sugar and railway interests were sold to the Cuban-Atlantic Sugar Company. Expanding and Innovating.
Stepping Stones Many Hershey products that are familiar today were originally produced for the confectionary trade and were later reformulated for consumers. HERSHEY’S powdered cocoa, for example, has been manufactured continuously since 1894. Also, Hershey was the first to sell chocolate syrup for home use beginning in 1926. Not all products under the HERSHEY brand were so successful in the marketplace. HERSHEY’S mint-flavored chewing gum, introduced in 1915, enjoyed only brief popularity. And a creation named the Not-So-Sweet bar was introduced in 1934, only to be discontinued in 1937. A Kiss and Tell Story
Of course, the very first addition to the HERSHEY’S product line of milk chocolate confections was HERSHEY’S KISSES Chocolates way back in 1907. Originally, each one was hand-wrapped in a square of silver foil, but in 1921 machine wrapping was introduced, along with the addition of the unique “plume” which marked it as a genuine HERSHEY’S KISSES Chocolate. The chocolates were not produced at all from 1942 through 1949 due to the rationing of silver foil during and immediately after World War II. HERSHEY’S KISSES Chocolates were wrapped in colors other than silver for the first time in 1962. HERSHEY’S KISSES with almonds were introduced in 1990 and the first successful HERSHEY’S product using white chocolate, HERSHEY’S HUGS, in 1993. Sweet Inventions
Two of the most successful products launched during ‘20s were the MR. GOODBAR and KRACKEL bars. MR. GOODBAR, combining milk chocolate and peanuts, was introduced in November of 1925. According to popular legend, Milton Hershey himself named the new product. Upon tasting it, he is said to have exclaimed, “Now, that’s a good bar!” The KRACKEL bar was introduced on September 14, 1938. During its first few years, the formula for the confection changed several times, with almonds, and then peanuts, being included along with crisped rice in milk chocolate. Finally, the nuts were eliminated altogether in 1943, leaving the crispy milk chocolate recipe enjoyed by millions ever since. Mr. Reese and his Cups
In 1923, a former Hershey employee named H.B. Reese decided to start his own candy company out of the basement of his home. He made several different kinds of candy, but it wasn’t until five years later that he hit upon his greatest idea: a confection of peanut butter covered by milk chocolate (purchased, incidentally, from the Hershey Chocolate Company). During World War II, he discontinued his other product lines and concentrated on producing only REESE’S peanut butter cups. Despite its dependence on only a single product, Reese’s company prospered, and in 1963 the H.B. Reese Candy Company was purchased by the Hershey Chocolate Corporation. Since then, the REESE’S product line has grown to include REESE’S PIECES candies, the NUTRAGEOUS candy bar and REESESTICKS. Going to War
The Ration D Bar The U.S. Army’s requirements were quite specific. For troops engaged in a global war, they needed a ration bar that weighed about four ounces, would not melt at high temperatures, was high in food energy value, and did not taste so good that soldiers would be tempted to eat it except in an emergency. This last objective in particular was certainly a new one for the Hershey Chocolate Corporation. Nevertheless, its chocolate technologists came up with something that passed all tests. Named “Field Ration D,” it was so successful that by the end of 1945, approximately 24 million bars were being produced every week. More successful still was HERSHEY’S Tropical Chocolate Bar, a heat resistant bar with an improved flavor developed in 1943. In 1971, this bar even went to the moon with Apollo 15. Growing Global
Advertising to the Nation Except for a TV and billboard campaign in Canada in 1964, the company had never really done advertising on a national scale. In 1968, the newly renamed and reorganized Hershey Foods Corporation announced plans for a nationwide consumer advertising campaign spearheaded by the famous Ogilvy & Mather ad agency. Starting with a Sunday newspaper supplement in July, 1970, followed two months later by television and radio commercials, the campaign was an immediate success. Sales of REESE’S peanut butter cups and HERSHEY’S KISSES Chocolates, in particular, rose dramatically. But while the company today continues to advertise in all media, the quality of our products is still our best form of advertising. Milton Hershey would have liked that. E.T. Makes a Good Choice
In the early 1980s, Hershey executive Jack Dowd met with Hollywood producer Steven Spielberg and struck a deal to include REESES’S PIECES candy in Spielberg’s upcoming film, E.T.: The Extraterrestrial. When Hershey Chocolate Company President Earl Spangler first saw the movie’s promotional materials, he told Dowd, “That’s the ugliest creature I’ve ever seen.”After its successful premiere, the movie was screened by the company’s managers and top brass. When the film ended, there was first silence, then wild applause. Like many others, Spangler emerged from the theater with moist eyes. “Is he still ugly, Earl?” Dowd asked. Replied the company president, “He’s beautiful!” Both the lovable alien and his candy of choice became instant hits nationwide. Hershey Goes International
In addition to being the leading producer of chocolate and non-chocolate confectionary and other grocery products in North America, The Hershey Company also carries on a significant international presence with operations in more than 90 different countries. Hershey’s International division exports HERSHEY’S chocolate and grocery products worldwide and maintains licensing agreements with partners in nations such as South Korea, Japan, the Philippines and Taiwan. We don’t believe Milton Hershey would have been at all surprised to learn that his HERSHEY’S KISSES Chocolates are especially popular in Japan. Top of the Charts
Through unceasing technological modernization, strategically astute acquisitions and continued new product development, The Hershey Company grew spectacularly in the last 30 years of the 20th century. From $334 million in 1969, the company’s net sales soared to $4.4 billion in 2004. The Hershey Company is the leading North American manufacturer of quality chocolate and non-chocolate confectionery and chocolate-related grocery products. The company also is a leader in the gum and mint category.