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The History of Hershey

From a Poor Boy to Chocolate King

By Mela MandigmaPublished 6 months ago 6 min read
The History of Hershey
Photo by Jennie Clavel on Unsplash

Your Golden Ticket will take you to the world's most unique Chocolate Factory. Despite being a bit scared, you're excited to experience the flowing chocolate rivers and towering blueberry giants.

I'm hearing that there is an alternative tree out there. By the way, stay tuned. Until the end, we are giving away a date with Veruca Salt. If we can find anybody interested, though spoiler alert, Roald Dahl completely made up one of his most famous stories. He might have had some inspiration for it when he was at boarding school. Dahl visited a local Chocolate Factory with other students and their task was to taste new chocolate bars - now that's what I call a good field trip. The Curious young man was wondering how exactly they came up with different sorts of chocolate - he imagined there was a secret inventing room where people in white were experimenting with some boiling pots and other components, creating real magic.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory came out in 1975 and became one of Dahl's most successful works. However, he never mentioned it in his essays or books. The real-life inspiration for Willy Wonka was Melton Hershey%, known for his all-cotton candy and marshmallow business. This success story began with chocolate, from his father's big dream of there always being a new opportunity to succeed. Sadly, Milton didn't stick to any of these opportunities--his wife may have grown tired of this. Milton's father separated from the family when Milton was 14, so he didn't have a chance to complete even a rural school education.

After completing that task, Hershey made the decision to borrow 150 dollars from his aunt, aiming to establish his own candy shop in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, his initial business venture failed six years later. Consequently, Hershey relocated to Denver, where he secured employment with a local confectioner. During his time there, he acquired a valuable secret that would significantly impact his life. Contrary to popular belief, this secret did not involve the creation of an endless chocolate river. Rather, it involved the art of making caramel from fresh milk.

Despite working for others, Hershey's entrepreneurial drive did not diminish. He made a few more attempts to launch his own shop, first in Chicago and later in New York City. Regrettably, these endeavors also ended in failure. Nonetheless, Hershey's determination remained unwavering, and he never entertained the thought of giving up. Returning to Lancaster, where he had once been an apprentice, Hershey established his own company. His expertise in caramel-making served him well, resulting in tremendous success.

Yet, while observing the caramel-making process, Hershey realized that it did not align with his true passion. He aspired to popularize chocolate, an exotic delicacy from Switzerland at the time. Thus, Hershey sold his lucrative caramel business in 1900 for an impressive one million dollars. With the proceeds, he purchased new equipment and began experimenting with boiled milk, sugar, and cacao beans, aiming to produce affordable milk chocolate for mass production.

By the end of that year, Hershey had already sold his very first Hershey bar, marking the beginning of his journey as the future chocolate magnate.

Five years later, Hershey completed the construction of his new factory, which would eventually become the largest chocolate manufacturing plant globally. However, contrary to the popular image of a wealthy business tycoon, Hershey did not indulge in extravagant parties, golden statues, or lavish trips around the world, tossing money around like chocolate wrappers. In fact, he had a modest and kind-hearted nature that set him apart.

Interestingly, Hershey had intended to board the ill-fated Titanic, even making a deposit for the journey. However, due to a business emergency, he canceled his plans. This stroke of luck may have been a blessing, as Hershey's philanthropic nature and selflessness were far from the stereotype of a tycoon. He empathized with the hardships he faced when he had to drop out of school, prompting him to invest a significant portion of his wealth in the education and well-being of others.

Hershey not only built a successful business but also established an entire community around it, complete with schools, parks, recreational facilities, and housing for his employees. The fortunate individuals working for him even had their own trolley system for transportation.

In his personal life, Hershey unexpectedly met his future wife, Catherine, at a candy shop in New York. During the era before his business empire reached its pinnacle, he was delivering caramels. Unfortunately, the couple couldn't have children of their own, so they decided to open a school for orphan boys. Tragically, a few years after their marriage, Catherine passed away. In her memory, Hershey transferred a significant portion of his wealth to a trust that funded the school.

Even during the years of the Great Depression, when it would have been understandable for Hershey to focus solely on his business, he chose to support others in his town. He commissioned the construction of a large hotel, a community building, and new offices for his company, thereby creating numerous job opportunities.

Hershey firmly believed in the philosophy that one's happiness is proportional to the happiness they bring to others. It is likely that he left this world as a genuinely content and joyful individual.

Another potential real-life inspiration for Willy Wonka could have been Samuel Carey, who produced chocolate and confectionery equipment in the early 20th century. Carey published a catalog describing his factory in Glendale and the innovative machines he used for his work, including a cocoa bean roaster with unique features.

The history of chocolate can be traced back to around 1500 BCE, although it was vastly different from the familiar chocolate bars we know today. The ancient Olmecs, who resided in Central and South America, used cacao to make ceremonial drinks. The Mayans inherited this knowledge, and chocolate became a common element in their regular meals. They would add chili peppers, honey, or water to create a flavorful beverage.

The exact route by which chocolate made its way to Europe remains uncertain. One version suggests that Christopher Columbus himself played a role, as he encountered cacao beans on a Mayan canoe during his fourth voyage to America. By the late 15th century, chocolate had become a popular drink at the Spanish Court, leading to its spread throughout Europe. European variations of the hot chocolate recipe emerged, as they replaced chili peppers with cane sugar, cinnamon, and other familiar spices.

Notably, Queen Marie Antoinette of France had a deep fondness for hot chocolate and even brought her personal chocolate maker when she moved into the palace at Versailles. She granted him an official title and together they experimented with new recipes, incorporating ingredients like orange blossom and sweet almonds into the drink.

Fast-forwarding to modern times, the largest chocolate factory in the world, in terms of production, is located in Belgium. The factory produces a staggering thousand tons of chocolate each day and supplies liquid chocolate to renowned brands such as Nestle, Unilever, and Hershey. They even have separate production lines for smaller gourmet chocolatiers. The factory employs over 900 people and operates continuously, with a small replica of a tropical forest where they cultivate their own cocoa beans. The resemblance to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory is striking, albeit without the fantastical elements.

If you find yourself inspired to become a chocolatier, you can even enroll in a chocolate academy or practice at home with tools like a chocolate bar maker or a chocolatier starter kit available on platforms like Amazon.

That concludes our journey through the history and legacy of chocolate. If this information satisfied your curiosity, please consider giving the video a like and sharing it with your friends. For more intriguing content, click on the suggested videos and stay on the bright side.


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