Milton Hershey – Biography of the Chocolate King And Man Of People

Milton S. Hershey was an American chocolate maker, businessman, and philanthropist. He managed to create the caramel using fresh milk and produce everybody’s favorite milk chocolate. He exemplifies how failures can be turned into a lesson, an opportunity, and a huge success.

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And the story goes on… 

Milton Hershey Biography of the Chocolate King And Man Of People

Milton Hershey – Early Life and Family

Milton S Hershey

Milton Hershey was born on September 13th, 1857. There is still confusion about his birth city. Some say that he was born in Derry Church, others state that his birth city was Derry Township. However, both cities are located in Pennsylvania.

His parents were Henry and Veronica (Fanny) Hershey. Because the family had Swiss and German roots, they were members of the Mennonite community. Milton himself spoke Pennsylvania Dutch in his childhood. 

Serena Hershey was Milton’s sister and was born in 1862. She passed away at a very young age. Of course, that was a huge tragedy for the family and affected Milton’s childhood a lot. They lived in a rural area, as we already mentioned. And because he was an only child and because of his parents’ trauma, the family needed his help a lot.

So, he helped out on the farm that his family owned. Because of the work that he did while being there, he learned a lot, especially the cost of hard work and perseverance. Fanny was actually a very strict mother, and it was because of her that he knew the value of work. 

There was a different drama going on with his father. Henry was rarely present. Most of the time, he was gone. He did not like to stay for a long period of time anywhere. They acted like a dreamer who was always looking for opportunities. However, he did not have the work ethic and perseverance to actually achieve something. His absence is probably one of the reasons why Milton had very limited education and almost no schooling after 4th grade. It was in 1867 when Milton’s father left the family and they got separated. The details of the divorce are not clear; however, it may have been that the wife was tired of her husband’s failures.

Becoming Independent 

In 1871, when he was just 14, he dropped out of school. He still did not have any interest in candy-making back then. It turns out, he left the school for good. He started working for a local printer, Sam Ernst, who was the publisher of a German-English newspaper. However, he did not really like what he was doing. He thought it was too boring. 

He was eventually fired by the boss because he had accidentally dropped a hat into one of the printing machines. Because his parents were pretty strict, he was afraid of their reaction. Milton’s father wanted to get him back to the job and asked his boss for forgiveness. The boss agreed to get him back. However, his mother and aunt had different thoughts.

First Steps in the Confectionery Industry

It was because of his mother and his aunt that he was introduced to the candy business. His mother, Fanny, arranged for him to work for Joseph Royer, a confectioner. Milton was Joseph’s apprentice and worked in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Milton has worked there for four years. Eventually, he learned the art of candy-making there. 

It was in 1876. He was about 19 years old when he moved to Philadelphia. The goal was to create his own confectionery business. So, Milton Hershey borrowed the $150 from his aunt for the candy shop he was going to open. 

Early Ventures

Milton Hershey opened a candy shop in Philadelphia. It took hard work and a lot of problems came along the way. After many failures, he finally gave up and closed the business after five long years. After his failure, Milton went to Denver, where his father was living. 

In Denver, he started working at local candy manufacturers. It was then that he learned to make the caramel. Soon, he discovered how fresh milk could be useful in making caramel. After the discovery, he went to New Orleans and then Chicago looking for opportunities. But there was nothing but a failure. Finally, in 1883, he settled in New York City, where he started training at Huyler’s. 

In New York City, he started his second business. The business did not last long. So, after three years, in 1886, his second business failed too. After the second failure, he finally returned to Lancaster. 

Lancaster Caramel Company

His third business was located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The business was called “the Lancaster Caramel Company.” He opened up the business with the money he borrowed from the bank. The company was founded in 1886 and became Milton’s first successful business. 

The company helped him gain a reputation. He kept using the caramel recipe that he had discovered in previous years. Hershey was selling caramels in bulk. From past experience, he knew that this way the sales were higher. 

The company gained significant success after the man from England visited Lancaster. He liked the candy so much that he gave Hershey a huge order. The purpose was to deliver the candy to Britain. This helped Milton Hershey a lot financially because that way he paid his debt, which was a pretty significant amount. Even more, he had some more money left for ingredients and new equipment too. 

At the beginning of 1890, the Lancaster Caramel Company was so large that it had more than 1,300 employees in two factories. Everything changed after Hershey visited the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. 

Hershey Chocolate Company

After the visit to Chicago, he became interested in chocolate making. He thought a lot about what to do. Finally, they decided to sell the Lancaster Caramel Company. It was indeed a really risky decision. 

The company was sold in 1900 for one million dollars. After selling the Caramel Company, he started to work on the chocolate bar formulas. It took him the whole 3 years to fulfill his thoughts and plans. Back then, milk chocolate was considered a luxury product. Milton worked a lot to master the perfect formula, and finally, he created one. 

Milton Hershey produced the chocolate and called it the Hershey Bar.” Chocolate was introduced in 1900. Finally, in 1903, he bought farmland close to Lancaster, near the City of Derry Township. (Where he was born.) The location was strategically correct because he could buy the fresh milk and other products that he needed from local suppliers. He started building the side of a chocolate company’s factory. which eventually became one of the world’s largest chocolate manufacturers. 

Hershey Bar 1900

Milk chocolate bars became very popular, and even though Milton did not want any kind of advertisement for the product, it became famous rapidly. “Give them quality. That’s the best kind of advertising in the world,” he said. 

Despite his huge success, Milton Hershey did not stop exploring and experimenting with new recipes. In 1907, he developed and introduced the famous Hershey’s kisses. Later on, in 1908, Hershey’s Bar with almonds was introduced and became one of the most popular and loved chocolates which was later called Almond Joy

Since then, Hershey’s Company has created countless candies and chocolate. Some of our very favorite chocolate ones too, such as Hershey’s special dark, Hershey’s Drops, Hershey’s Miniatures, Hershey’s Nuggets, and many others. 

Man of People

Milton Hershey soon became very successful and also gathered a significant fortune. He managed to receive many public amenities. However, he had good intentions and wanted to do a lot for people. Around his factory, he managed to support the building of houses, businesses, churches, and transportation infrastructure. 

He married Catherine Elizabeth in 1898. Catherine and Hershey did not have children. Maybe this was one of the reasons why they did so much for others. He even established the Milton Hershey School. He later created the M.S. Hershey Foundation and supported the Milton Hershey School. He mostly transferred his assets to the school. Even today, Hershey’s company keeps continuing Milton’s philanthropic ways. 

Milton Hershey did a lot for his people and city. He built the Hershey museum, Hershey Garden, Hershey Theater, Hershey Cemetery, Hershey School, Hershey Hospital, and many more. 

Legacy Of Milton Hershey 

If we learned anything about Milton Hershey, it is that he was not afraid of failure and was always ready to take a risk and start again. He never lost hope. Every failure was turned into the beginning of something new by him. He was not only the greatest candy and chocolate maker but also an amazing person. He was always trying to create better living conditions for people around him and those who were in need. 

Milton Hershey died in 1945 at the age of 88. He worked hard, even in his last years. He died in the Hershey hospital, which was built by him, and is buried at Hershey’s cemetery.

Milton Hershey’s chocolate company is one of the biggest chocolate manufacturers in the world. It proudly stands alongside the brands, including Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, and Twizzlers

Interesting Facts: 

  • The two streets located in Hershey, Pennsylvania are called Cocoa Avenue and Chocolate Avenue. They are the major streets of Hershey. 
  • Milton Hershey had travel booked on the Titanic. He was going with his wife, Kitty. However, with luck, they canceled the trip.
  • At the time of World War II, Milton Hershey made ratio bars called “Field Ration D Bars.” Bars were specially made for the troops. Back in the time when the war ended, he was making approximately 24 million bars a week. 
  • In Hershey, Pennsylvania, there are some very unique attractions. For example, Hershey Amusement Park and Hershey’s Chocolate World.

Milton Hershey FAQ

When did Milton Hershey die?

Milton Hershey died in 1945 at the age of 88. He worked hard, even in his last years. He died in the Hershey hospital, which was built by him, and is buried at Hershey’s cemetery.

Who was Milton Hershey?

Milton S. Hershey was an American chocolate maker, businessman, and philanthropist. He managed to create the caramel using fresh milk and produce everybody’s favorite milk chocolate. He exemplifies how failures can be turned into a lesson, an opportunity, and a huge success.

When was Milton Hershey born?

Milton Hershey was born on September 13th, 1857. There is still confusion about his birth city. Some say that he was born in Derry Church, others state that his birth city was Derry Township. However, both cities are located in Pennsylvania.

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