The Man Behind Good Business and Good Chocolate

In addition to leaving us with America’s most iconic chocolate bar, Milton S. Hershey left behind a legacy of goodness. It’s a story of persistence, spirit, compassion, selflessness and purpose.

Milton Hershey: A Legacy of Goodness that Lives On

One built on compassion. Selflessness. Purpose. Our founder established a school that prepares boys and girls for success in all aspects of life; along with community buildings, civic centers, gardens and cultural institutions that continue to grow today.
 
His spirit has never faltered, nor has it ever failed to inspire us. It’s this very legacy that led The Hershey Company 125 years ago, and it’s a legacy that’ll us lead for years to come. When we invest in businesses that make a difference, reduce our environmental footprint, enhance the livelihood of communities, or provide a brighter future for children across the world, we do so in the spirit of Milton — a man who taught us business is a matter of service. That generosity leads to the richest of rewards. And that one’s happiness is dependent on the joy of others.
 

A Story as Iconic as the Chocolate Bar

Milton Hershey made his mark as a successful confectioner, philanthropist and innovator. But Milton was by no means an overnight success story, nor did his achievements come without their hardships.
 

In fact, his first two candy companies were met with failure. It wasn’t until his third business that Milton’s hard work and talent paid off. From then on, Milton prospered as a successful businessman and generous humanitarian that improved the lives of thousands.

 

1850’s

Milton hershey

1857

Milton Snavely Hershey was born in Derry Township, Pennsylvania on September 13th.

1870’s

1872

At age 14, Milton discovered a passion for candy-making and spent the next four years as an apprentice for master confectioner Joseph Royer in Lancaster.

1876

After four years of learning the trade, Milton moved to Philadelphia to start his first candy business eventually ending in bankruptcy.

1880’s

1882

Milton traveled to Denver and it was there that he learned to make caramels with fresh milk.

1883

Milton returned to Lancaster, Pennsylvania where he sold homemade caramels from a pushcart.

1886

Lancaster Caramel Company Founded

1890’s

1894

Milton’s dedication to chocolate was confirmed when he established The Hershey Chocolate Company.

1898

Milton married Catherine “Kitty” Sweeney. Milton met Catherine at a candy shop in New York while delivering one of his caramel orders.

1900’s

Hershey Factory

1900

Milton sold the Lancaster Caramel Company and by the end of 1900, Milton had sold his very first Hershey bar.

1905

Factory construction was completed.

1909

Milton and Catherine founded the Hershey Industrial School to provide education and opportunity for orphaned boys in the community.

1910’s

1918

Following Catherine’s death, Milton gifted the Hershey School Trust with his entire fortune. The School Trust provides for the well-being of Milton’s community.

1930’s

1930

The Great Building Campaign began.

1935

Milton founded the M.S. Hershey Foundation to provide cultural opportunities for workers and residents in his community.

1940’s

Milton Hershey

1945

On October 13th, Milton died at 88 years of age. The legacy of this chocolatier, philanthropist, innovator and social entrepreneur lives on to this day.

Factory

The School

Perhaps Milton’s most cherished contribution to the community was the Hershey Industrial School for orphaned boys. Founded by Milton and his wife Catherine, they built the school with the intention of providing young boys with a productive and fulfilling life. Having had no children of their own, they came to consider the boys as family. Now named the Milton Hershey School, this institution fosters the academic and social potential of over 2,000 boys and girls a year, providing them with the skills and resources for success in all areas of life. Prior to his death, Milton left the entirety of his fortune with the school to ensure its continued success.
Buildings under construction

The Great Building Campaign

Milton took great pride in his community. And when the Great Depression threatened it with economic disaster, Milton responded with a major construction program known as The Great Building Campaign. This project saw the employment of over 600 workers to build a number of major structures, which continue to thrive today. This includes the Hotel Hershey, Hershey Community Theatre, the Community Building, the Hershey Sports Arena and many other institutions.
Buildings along a road with trolleys running through it.

The Community

Milton Hershey believed that employees who were treated fairly and lived in comfortable living environments would be better workers. It was this very idea that sparked a lifelong passion for Milton: building a model community where its people would be proud to live and work — and above all, where they would succeed. Milton proceeded to build a community complete with housing, a bank, a hotel, public schools, churches, parks, a zoo, and even a trolley system — all to enhance the quality of life for the employees he considered family. By treating them with dignity and prosperity, Milton inspired loyalty and admiration from all his workers.
Milton and Catherine Hershey's portrait.

Democratizing Chocolate and Building the Future

Milton Hershey was a man of many titles, and social entrepreneur was one of them. It was Milton’s wit, instinct and knack for innovation and drive to enhance the quality of life for others that led to some of The Hershey Company’s most revolutionary measures.