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American manufacturer and philanthropist who founded the Hershey Chocolate Corporation and popularized chocolate candy throughout much of the world.
Milton Hershey - Full Episode (44:04)
Hershey was bailed out by a loan from the Lancaster County National Bank, but later became one of Lancaster's most successful citizens.
Milton Hershey brought chocolate, normally a luxury of the rich, to the masses.
Learn how Milton Hershey built Lancaster Caramel Company after nearly failing.
The full biography of Milton Hershey.
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Milton Hershey was born on September 13, 1857, in Derry Township, Pennsylvania, although some sources say he was born in Derry Church, Pennsylvania. Following an incomplete rural school education, Hershey was apprenticed at age 15. After two failed attempts, Hershey set up the Lancaster Caramel Co. In 1900 Hershey sold the company, focused on perfecting the formula for chocolate bars, and began building at the site that became the world’s largest chocolate manufacturing plant.
"Give them quality. That's the best kind of advertising in the world."
Entrepreneur Milton Snavely Hershey was born on September 13, 1857, in Derry Township, Pennsylvania. He was the only surviving child of Veronica "Fanny" Snavely and Henry Hershey. Born on a farm outside of Derry Church, Pennsylvania—a small farming community in the central part of the state—Hershey spent the early years of his childhood trailing his father, a dreamer who always had his eye out for the next big opportunity. But Henry Hershey lacked the perseverance and work ethic to stick anything out.
By 1867, Hershey's father had largely cut himself out of the family picture. The details around his parents' separation are cloudy, but it's largely believed that Fanny, the daughter of a Mennonite clergyman, had grown tired of her husband's failures.
With Hershey's upbringing left to her, the strict Fanny instilled in her son an appreciation for hard work. At the age of 14, Hershey, who'd dropped out of school the year before, expressed an interest in candy making and began apprenticing with a master confectioner in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Four years later, Hershey borrowed $150 from his aunt and set up his own candy shop in the heart of Philadelphia.
For five long years Hershey poured his sweat and time into the business. But success eluded him. Finally, he closed shop and headed west, reuniting with his father in Denver, where he found work with a confectioner. It was there that he discovered caramel and how fresh milk could be used to make it.
But the entrepreneur in Hershey wasn't content to work for someone else, and he struck out on his own again, first in Chicago and later in New York City. In both cases, Hershey again failed. In 1883, he returned to Lancaster and, still convinced he could build a successful candy company, started the Lancaster Caramel Company.
Success soon followed. Within a few short years, Hershey had a thriving business and was shipping his caramels all over the country.
At the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, Hershey got an up-close look at the art of chocolate making. He was immediately hooked. While his caramel business boomed, Hershey started the Hershey Chocolate Company.
His fascination quickly became focused on milk chocolate, considered a delicacy and largely the domain of the Swiss. Hershey was determined to find a new formula that would allow him to mass-produce and mass-distribute milk chocolate candy.
In 1900 he sold the Lancaster Caramel Company for an astonishing $1 million.
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