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The History of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate

Milton Snavely Hershey struggled through many failed endeavors until he started his first candy company, the Lancaster Caramel Company, in 1886. After several failed attempts to open his business and secure financing, the company began to flourish, producing products like Paradox, Empire, and Roly Poly. Hershey was able to sell the company for a massive amount of money in 1900 — but that wasn’t the end of his involvement in the candy business. Back in 1893, Hershey had attended a demonstration by a German chocolatier at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The demo featured machinery that made the entire chocolate-making process easier. Hershey purchased the machines and shipped them to his caramel plant, where he planned to make milk chocolate-covered caramels, but the chocolate turned out to be such a hit that he pivoted and began making Hershey’s Bars instead. Hershey made history by making milk chocolate affordable for the masses and his products quickly became popular. Despite advice to the contrary, Hershey set up operations outside any major city and instead chose to incorporate a town — the now-famous Hershey, Pennsylvania. (The town got a Post Office in 1906.) Hershey reportedly worked hard to make it a great place to live, having dealt with poverty himself for much of his life. In 1937, Hershey was approached by the U.S. Army and asked to create a heat-resistant, high-calorie, nutritional chocolate bar for soldiers. Reportedly, Hershey chemist Sam Hinkle developed “Tropical Chocolate Bars” or Field Ration D bars in response. (In 1945, Hershey was producing 24 million of them a week!) They were so significant to the war effort that the military awarded Hershey and all of the employees! Later, those same bars went to the Moon on NASA’s Apollo 15 rocket. Hershey went on to add more products to their line-up, including Hershey’s Kisses and Hershey’s Mr. Goodbar. More recently, Hershey’s has come under fire along with many other major chocolate producers for potentially using child labor in their cocoa supply chain. Despite this, Hershey’s is still best known today as a classic American chocolate choice with a rich history.

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