AKA Milton Snavely Hershey
Birthplace: Dauphin County, PA
Location of death: Hershey, PA
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Hershey Cemetery, Hershey, PA
Religion: See Note
Race or Ethnicity: White
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Founder of Hershey's
Chocolatier and philanthropist Milton Hershey's formal education ended at fourth grade. He apprenticed at a newspaper but hated it, then apprenticed for a confectioner and spent the rest of his life making candy. He opened his own shop in Philadelphia, the M.S. Hershey Wholesale and Retail Confectioner, which sputtered and failed after six years. Relocating to Manhattan, he opened another confectionery, and again failed. A small town boy at heart, he opened the Lancaster Caramel Company in Lancaster, PA, in 1890, which was more successful. His "Crystal A Caramels" were even exported to Europe.
At the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, he was so impressed by a display of German chocolate-making machinery, he bought it and had it shipped to Pennsylvania. He sold the caramel company for the then-amazing sum of one million dollars, and used the proceeds to build a factory, in the farmland area where he was born, for his new Hershey Chocolate Company. He devised an affordable recipe for milk chocolate, which until that time had been an expensive delicacy. The company's famous Hershey Bars debuted in 1905, Hershey's with Almonds was added in 1906, and Hershey's Kisses were introduced in 1907. Within a few years his chocolates were sold all across America.
Wealthy from his sweets, Hershey literally built a town for his factory workers, and not a spartan "factory town", but a pleasant place with houses that were not all alike, with free and well-funded public schools, libraries, and a trolley system. The town's main park was initially a quiet place where workers could go picnicking or canoeing, with a ball park and a bandstand, but with steady funding provided by Hershey and, after his death, by the Hershey Trust, it has grown into HersheyPark, a sprawling amusement park and regional tourist attraction. Hershey's mansion home is now the elegant Hotel Hershey.
Catherine Elizabeth Sweeney, who would be his wife, was a salesgirl in a confection shop, and they met when he stopped by to sell his products. Soon after their marriage, though, she developed symptoms similar to muscular dystrophy, and she was sickly and frail for the rest of her life. They had no children, and three years after her death Hershey transferred ownership of the chocolate company -- then worth about $60-million -- to his philanthropic organization, the Hershey Trust. Hershey died in 1945.
In 2002 the Hershey Trust sold most of its stock in Hershey Foods, and in 2007 the company he founded, still headquartered in the town he built, announced an outsourcing deal to have Hershey's raw chocolate, the central ingredient in its most famous candies, manufactured in Mexico.
Father: Henry Hershey (door-to-door salesman)
Mother: Fannie Hershey (m. 1856)
Wife: Catherine Elizabeth Sweeney Hershey ("Kitty", b. 6-Jun-1872, m. 25-May-1898, d. 25-Mar-1915)
Hershey Trust Founder
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