The Hershey Chocolate factory covers two million square feet which makes it the largest chocolate factory in the world. The original plant was built in 1903, but it has been added on and updated many times since then.
The first product to be regularly manufactured in the Hershey chocolate factory was the signature “Hershey’s Kisses” line of small chocolates. These were first introduced in 1907. At first, Hershey’s Kisses were individually hand wrapped in foil. In 1921, Hershey introduced technology to machine wrap the candies and at that time, it added the signature paper ribbon to denote that they were the official product.
Other products manufactured in the Hershey chocolate factory include the Mr. Goodbar, Krackle, chocolate chips, and Hershey’s Syrup.
Hershey’s is the largest manufacturer of chocolate in North America. It was founded by Milton Snavely Hershey in 1903.
Hershey was born in 1857. He was the only surviving son of Henry and Fanny Hershey. The family moved around quite a bit and Hershey only completed the fourth grade. After that, he apprenticed to a printer. He hated printing and deliberately got himself fired by allowing his hat to fall into the printing machine.
Hershey then completed a four year apprenticeship with a confectioner. In 1876, with financial help from his mother’s family, he opened a candy shop in Philadelphia. When that business failed, he moved to Chicago and then to New York where his shop keeping attempts also failed.
He moved back to Pennsylvania and settled in Lancaster where he successfully started a caramel company which used fresh milk in its candies. He was able to sell that company for $1 million.
Using the monies from the caramel company sale, Hershey set up the now famous Hershey Chocolate factory in his home town of Derry Church, PA. Derry Church would later change its name to Hershey.
Until that time, milk chocolate had been a luxury product which could only be imported from Switzerland. Hershey developed his own recipe, and, using the milk plentifully available from the surrounding dairy farms, he set up shop.
Through the first half of the 20th Century, Hershey grew to be one of the largest companies in the United States. They built on this success by starting manufacturing plants in Ontario, Canada and Oakdale, CA. Today both of those plants have been shuttered and replaced with a large facility in Monterrey, Mexico.
Hershey had a vision of having a company town which benefited his workers. To this end, he built a model town that included schools, comfortable houses, and lush public spaces. It was out of this vision that modern day Hershey, PA exists.
The Hershey Chocolate Factory has become a tourist destination in and of itself. For a long time, factory tours were offered. Hershey has replaced factory tours with Hershey’s Chocolate World, a marketplace with shops, restaurants, and a 3-D Show.
In addition, the Hershey Co. runs several entertainment venues in the town of Hershey including Hersheypark, a chocolate themed amusement park.
Knowing the extent of the company’s reach today, it’s hard to imagine that it all started just over a century ago with Hershey’s Chocolate factory.