It all started with a decision.
Our company originated with candy-manufacturer Milton Hershey’s decision in 1894
to produce sweet chocolate as a coating for his caramels. Located in Lancaster,
Pennsylvania, the new enterprise was named the Hershey Chocolate Company. In 1900,
the company began producing milk chocolate in bars, wafers and other shapes. With
mass production, Hershey was able to lower the per-unit cost and make milk chocolate,
once a luxury item for the wealthy, affordable to all. One early advertising slogan
described this new product as “a palatable confection and a most nourishing food.”
A company on the move.
The immediate success of Hershey’s low-cost, high-quality milk chocolate soon caused
the company’s owner to consider increasing his production facilities. He decided
to build a new chocolate factory amid the gently rolling farmland of south-central
Pennsylvania in Derry Township, where he had been born. Close to the ports of New
York and Philadelphia that supplied the imported sugar and cocoa beans needed, surrounded
by dairy farms that provided the milk required, and with a local labor supply of
honest, hardworking people, the location was perfect. By the summer of 1905, the
new factory was turning out delicious milk chocolate.
A KISS for the whole world.
Looking to expand its product line, the company in 1907 began producing a flat-bottomed,
conical milk chocolate candy that Mr. Hershey decided to name HERSHEY’S KISSES Chocolates.
At first, they were individually wrapped in little squares of silver foil, but in
1921 machine wrapping was introduced. That technology was also used to add the familiar
“plume” at the top to signify to consumers that this was a genuine HERSHEY’S KISSES
Chocolate. In 1924, the company even had it trademarked.
New products, hard times.
Throughout the next two decades, even more products were added to the company’s
offerings. These included MR. GOODBAR Candy Bar (1925), HERSHEY’S Syrup (1926),
HERSHEY'S chocolate chips (1928) and the KRACKEL bar (1938). Despite the Great Depression
of the 1930s, these products helped the newly incorporated Hershey Chocolate Corporation
maintain its profitability and avoid any worker layoffs. Nevertheless, supported
by the CIO labor union, a group of workers staged a six-day strike that ended with
the strikers being forcibly removed by loyal workers and local farmers.
HERSHEY’S chocolate goes to war.
With the outbreak of World War II, the Hershey Chocolate Corp. (which had provided
milk chocolate bars to American doughboys in the first war) was already geared up
to start producing a survival ration bar for military use. By the end of the war,
more than a billion Ration D bars had been produced and the company had earned no
less than five Army-Navy “E” Production Awards for its exceptional contributions
to the war effort. In fact, the company’s machine shop even turned out parts for
the Navy’s antiaircraft guns.
A family friend becomes a family member.
The postwar period saw the introduction of a host of new products and the acquisition
of an old one. Since 1928, H.B. “Harry” Reese’s Candy Company, also located in Hershey,
had been making chocolate-covered peanut butter cups. Given that Hershey Chocolate
Company supplied the coating for REESE’S “penny cups," (the wrapper said, “Made
in Chocolate Town, So They Must Be Good”), it was not surprising that the two companies
had a good relationship. As a result, seven years after Reese’s death in 1956, the
H.B. Reese Candy Company was sold to Hershey Chocolate Corp.
Growing up and branching out.
The following decades would see the company - renamed Hershey Foods Corporation
in 1968 - expanding its confectionery product lines, acquiring related companies
and even diversifying into other food products. Among the many acquisitions were
San Giorgio Macaroni and Delmonico Foods (1966); manufacturing and marketing rights
to English candy company Rowntree MacKintosh’s products (1970); Y&S Candies,
makers of TWIZZLERS licorice (1977); Dietrich Corp.’s confectionery operations (1986);
Peter Paul/Cadbury’s U.S. confectionery operations (1988); and Ronzoni Foods (1990).
The Hershey Company enters a new century.
Today, The Hershey Company is the leading North American manufacturer of chocolate
and non-chocolate confectionery and grocery products. As the new millennium begins,
The Hershey Company continues to introduce new products frequently and take advantage
of growth opportunities through acquisitions. HERSHEY'S products are known and enjoyed
the world over. In fact, the company markets its products in approximately 70 countries worldwide. With approximately
14,000 employees and net sales in excess of $6.6 billion, The Hershey Company remains
committed to the vision and values of the man who started it all so many years ago.
A New Company: 1894
In the beginning, the Hershey Chocolate Company was simply a wholly owned subsidiary
of Milton Hershey’s Lancaster Caramel Company. Using chocolate-making equipment
purchased at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the company produced baking
chocolate, cocoa and sweet chocolate coatings for the parent company’s caramels.
But things changed with the hiring of William Murrie to sell the excess product
to other confectioners. Murrie was so successful a salesman that the Hershey Chocolate
Company quickly turned into a viable concern on its own. Milton Hershey became even
more convinced that his future in the candy business lay in chocolate, not caramels.
Sweet Chocolate Novelties: 1895 – 1909
By 1895, the Hershey Chocolate Company was manufacturing 114 different items in
all sorts of sizes and shapes. Many were flavored with vanilla and given luxurious-sounding
names like LeRoi de Chocolate, Petit Bouquets and Chocolate Croquettes. Chocolate
“segars” and cigarettes were also quite popular.
Some chocolate cigarettes and cigars, such as Vassar Gems and Smart Set Cigarettes,
were purposely marketed to women as an alternative to the tobacco variety. Chocolate
was also touted as a source of quick energy for athletes. The packaging for National
Chocolate Tablets, which showed a bicyclist and baseball batsman, proclaimed that
“wheelmen and ball-players will find them very beneficial.”
The Baby in the Bean: 1898
On August 1, 1898, the company adopted a very distinctive symbol for its trademark.
The small child in a cocoa bean pod appeared on cans of HERSHEY’S COCOA up until
1936, when it was finally replaced by the block lettering familiar today.
The “Baby in the Bean” went through many incarnations, sometimes holding a cup of
cocoa, sometimes a chocolate bar. Even the child’s hair and facial expression underwent
changes over the years. The logo symbol was finally retired in 1968, when the company
was reorganized as Hershey Foods Corporation.
Finding the Formula: 1895 – 1904
While his company was successful enough selling sweet chocolate products, Milton
Hershey was certain the real market lay in milk chocolate. The problem was in developing
a formula for manufacturing it cheaply and efficiently, while still maintaining
a high level of quality.
Hershey built a milk-processing plant on the family farm in Derry Township in 1896
and spent the next several years developing a viable formulation for milk chocolate.
Dressed in hip boots, Hershey worked day and night, going back and forth between
the condensing room and the creamery, rarely even stopping for meals. Finally, in
1899, he cracked the recipe and became the first American to manufacture milk chocolate.
Hershey’s Chocolate Factory: 1905
At the turn of the century, most industrial facilities were located in urban population
centers and transportation hubs (such as Pittsburgh with its steel mills or New
York’s garment factories). But when it came to selecting a site for his chocolate
plant, Milton Hershey chose rural Derry Township in south-central Pennsylvania.
For one thing, it was right in the heart of Pennsylvania’s dairy farming country
and, therefore, close to the source of an essential ingredient in the making of
milk chocolate: milk. It was also near the port cities of Philadelphia and New York
from which imported cocoa beans and sugar could be obtained. Finally, the region
was populated by honest, industrious folk. Exactly the kind of workforce every business
owner dreams of.
Hershey Goes to Cuba: 1916
With the onset of World War I, the European beet sugar, which Hershey had been using
to make his milk chocolate, became increasingly scarce. So, searching for a more
dependable source, Milton Hershey started acquiring cane sugar plantations and constructing
refineries in Cuba. Typically, he also established a planned community for the workers,
called Central Hershey, based on the Pennsylvania model.
Hershey’s Cuban holdings eventually included 60,000 acres of land, five mills, a
251-mile railroad and, not surprisingly, a school for orphaned children. By the
end of World War II, the company found it no longer needed its Cuban sources, and
its sugar and railway interests were sold to the Cuban-Atlantic Sugar Company.
Many Hershey products that are familiar today were originally produced for the confectionary
trade and were later reformulated for consumers. HERSHEY’S powdered cocoa, for example,
has been manufactured continuously since 1894. Also, Hershey was the first to sell
chocolate syrup for home use beginning in 1926. While Sprigs, the forerunner of
HERSHEY’S chocolate chips, was introduced in 1928.
Not all products under the HERSHEY brand were so successful in the marketplace.
HERSHEY’S mint-flavored chewing gum, introduced in 1915, enjoyed only brief popularity.
And a creation named the Not-So-Sweet bar was introduced in 1934, only to be discontinued
A Kiss and Tell Story
Of course, the very first addition to the HERSHEY’S product line of milk chocolate
confections was HERSHEY’S KISSES Chocolates way back in 1907. Originally, each one
was hand-wrapped in a square of silver foil, but in 1921 machine wrapping was introduced,
along with the addition of the unique “plume” which marked it as a genuine HERSHEY’S
The chocolates were not produced at all from 1942 through 1949 due to the rationing
of silver foil during and immediately after World War II. HERSHEY’S KISSES Chocolates
were wrapped in colors other than silver for the first time in 1962. HERSHEY’S KISSES
with almonds were introduced in 1990 and the first successful HERSHEY’S product
using white chocolate, HERSHEY’S HUGS, in 1993.
Two of the most successful products launched during ‘20s were the MR. GOODBAR and
KRACKEL bars. MR. GOODBAR, combining milk chocolate and peanuts, was introduced
in November of 1925. According to popular legend, Milton Hershey himself named the
new product. Upon tasting it, he is said to have exclaimed, “Now, that’s a good
The KRACKEL bar was introduced on September 14, 1938. During its first few years,
the formula for the confection changed several times, with almonds, and then peanuts,
being included along with crisped rice in milk chocolate. Finally, the nuts were
eliminated altogether in 1943, leaving the crispy milk chocolate recipe enjoyed
by millions ever since.
Mr. Reese and his Cups
In 1923, a former Hershey employee named H.B. Reese decided to start his own candy
company out of the basement of his home. He made several different kinds of candy,
but it wasn’t until five years later that he hit upon his greatest idea: a confection
of peanut butter covered by milk chocolate (purchased, incidentally, from the Hershey
Chocolate Company). During World War II, he discontinued his other product lines
and concentrated on producing only REESE’S peanut butter cups.
Despite its dependence on only a single product, Reese’s company prospered, and
in 1963 the H.B. Reese Candy Company was purchased by the Hershey Chocolate Corporation.
Since then, the REESE’S product line has grown to include REESE’S PIECES candies,
the NUTRAGEOUS candy bar and REESESTICKS.
During the 1920s, the stock market became a powerful vehicle for raising capital.
So in 1927, Milton Hershey decided to take advantage of this fact by reorganizing
his company and offering shares to the public. His Hershey Chocolate Company was
incorporated as the Hershey Chocolate Corporation. At the same time, Hershey created
another corporate entity named Hershey Estates, which included his non-chocolate
enterprises and allowed him to continue providing funds for community projects.
A third corporation was established to handle the Cuban enterprises.
The initial stock offering in the new Hershey Chocolate Corporation consisted of
350,000 shares of convertible preferred stock, and the opening price was $61.50
a share. It turned out to be quite a bargain.
The Ration D Bar
The U.S. Army’s requirements were quite specific. For troops engaged in a global
war, they needed a ration bar that weighed about four ounces, would not melt at
high temperatures, was high in food energy value, and did not taste so good that
soldiers would be tempted to eat it except in an emergency. This last objective
in particular was certainly a new one for the Hershey Chocolate Corporation. Nevertheless,
its chocolate technologists came up with something that passed all tests.
Named “Field Ration D,” it was so successful that by the end of 1945, approximately
24 million bars were being produced every week. More successful still was HERSHEY’S
Tropical Chocolate Bar, a heat resistant bar with an improved flavor developed in
1943. In 1971, this bar even went to the moon with Apollo 15.
The HERSHEY’S Bar in Stalag 3
No one was injured when T/Sgt Milton McCracken’s bomber was shot down over Italy
and the crew had to bail out that day in May of 1944. But no sooner had they hit
the ground than they were captured by enemy soldiers and transported to the first
of a series of POW camps in Germany.
Fortunately that winter, McCracken received a very special parcel from home, one
that contained a five-pound HERSHEY’S Bar. Hearing that they were soon to be marched
to another camp, the men in McCracken’s hut decided to share the chocolate evenly
to give them the energy to survive the long, cold march. Remembers McCracken, “We
left the end of January and walked for about six days.” Thankfully, he and his buddies
made it. And were liberated four months later.
The Hershey Hellion
It was only four days after D-Day in 1944 when the Hershey Hellion took some flak
and crashed into a field in the French countryside near Renes. That, by the way,
was what Flight Officer John W. Ginder had christened his Thunderbolt dive bomber.
A native son of Hershey, Pennsylvania, he even had a Hershey bar painted on the
side of it right below the cockpit. And while Ginder only had a few cuts and bruises,
his faithful plane was now just burning wreckage.
Fortunately, like a lot of American flyboys, Ginder was hidden from German patrols
by friendly French farmers. Eventually, he joined up with members of the Maquis,
the French resistance movement, and even accompanied them on night raids. After
two months, an armored patrol from General Patton‘s Third Army showed up, and Ginder
was reunited with his unit. And his next plane? Hershey Hellion #2, of course.
In the early hours of June 24, 1948, the Russian Soviets halted all traffic into
and out of Berlin, effectively cutting off the entire city. Almost immediately,
the U.S. Air Force commenced an airlift of food supplies to trapped inhabitants.
One of the pilots flying the Berlin Airlift was 1st Lt. Gail Halvorsen of Garland,
Utah. Seeing a crowd of children at the end of the Templehof airport runway, Halvorsen
started dropping HERSHEY’S chocolate bars for them whenever he made a run in his
The delivery system was straightforward enough. He tied a handkerchief to each candy
bar, which acted as a tiny parachute, and dropped them out the plane’s flare chute.
Flying into Templehof, he’d wiggle his wings, so the children would know to expect
their heaven-sent treats. Thanks to his candy drops, Halvorsen soon became the most
widely publicized symbol of the Berlin Airlift. But the children simply called him
The Chocolate Flier.
Up, Up and Away
Despite Milton Hershey’s death in 1945, Hershey Chocolate Corporation retained the
entrepreneurial values of innovation and risk-taking imprinted on it by its founder.
Throughout the post-World War II period, a host of new products were introduced,
many of which were successful, some of which were discontinued after only a few
By the 1960s, the company was ready to enlarge the scope of its operations. One
example of this new approach was the purchase in 1963 of the H.B. Reese Candy Co.
Another was the company’s diversification into pasta manufacturing with the acquisition
of San Giorgio Macaroni, Inc. and Delmonico Foods, Inc. The company also expanded
geographically, building new chocolate plants in Ontario, Canada and Oakdale, California.
Advertising to the Nation
Except for a TV and billboard campaign in Canada in 1964, the company had never
really done advertising on a national scale. In 1968, the newly renamed and reorganized
Hershey Foods Corporation announced plans for a nationwide consumer advertising
campaign spearheaded by the famous Ogilvy & Mather ad agency.
Starting with a Sunday newspaper supplement in July, 1970, followed two months later
by television and radio commercials, the campaign was an immediate success. Sales
of REESE’S peanut butter cups and HERSHEY’S KISSES Chocolates, in particular, rose
dramatically. But while the company today continues to advertise in all media, the
quality of our products is still our best form of advertising. Milton Hershey would
have liked that.
E.T. Makes a Good Choice
In the early 1980s, Hershey executive Jack Dowd met with Hollywood producer Steven
Spielberg and struck a deal to include REESES’S PIECES candy in Spielberg’s upcoming
film, E.T.: The Extraterrestrial. When Hershey Chocolate Company President Earl
Spangler first saw the movie’s promotional materials, he told Dowd, “That’s the
ugliest creature I’ve ever seen.”
After its successful premiere, the movie was screened by the company’s managers
and top brass. When the film ended, there was first silence, then wild applause.
Like many others, Spangler emerged from the theater with moist eyes. “Is he still
ugly, Earl?” Dowd asked. Replied the company president, “He’s beautiful!” Both the
lovable alien and his candy of choice became instant hits nationwide.
Hershey Goes International
In addition to being the leading producer of chocolate and non-chocolate confectionary
and other grocery products in North America, The Hershey Company also carries on
a significant international presence with operations in more than 90 different countries.
Hershey's International division exports HERSHEY’S chocolate and grocery products
worldwide and maintains licensing agreements with partners in nations such as South
Korea, Japan, the Philippines and Taiwan. We don’t believe Milton Hershey would
have been at all surprised to learn that his HERSHEY’S KISSES Chocolates are especially
popular in Japan.
Top of the Charts
Through unceasing technological modernization, strategically astute acquisitions
and continued new product development, The Hershey Company grew spectacularly in
the last 30 years of the 20th century. From $334 million in 1969, the company’s
net sales soared to $4.4 billion in 2004.
The Hershey Company is the leading North American manufacturer of quality chocolate
and non-chocolate confectionery and chocolate-related grocery products. The company
also is a leader in the gum and mint category.