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Milton Hershey's Death

Milton Hershey

The life and death of Milton Hershey:

Willy Wonka had nothing on this guy, because while the fictional Willie was known as the Candy Man, this guy was the real thing who not only started a candy company that’s still very well-known but also had a school and town named after him. And in the process, he became a famous philanthropist.

Milton Snavely Hershey was born in the state where he made his international reputation: Pennsylvania. His father Henry and mother Fanny Snavely Hershey were members of Pennsylvania's Mennonite community. His first language was Pennsylvania Dutch and, growing up, he helped on the family farm.

His father would often leave the family for long periods of time and Milton had a very limited formal education. He left school after the fourth grade in 1871 and took on as an apprentice to a local printer. However, didn't like that kind of work and an aunt offered a different idea, suggesting him to learn the trade of making candy.

So, Milton's mom set them up as an apprentice to a confectioner named Joseph Royer in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and for the next four years, instead of school, Milton learned how to make candy. He started his first candy business in Philadelphia in 1876.

His version of foreign study was traveling to Denver to figure out how to make caramels from fresh milk. He then traveled to places like New Orleans and Chicago looking for jobs and then settled down in New York City.

Returning to Lancaster in 1883, and using money from a bank loan, Hershey started a caramel company and it became a big success.

He also discovered that caramel sold better in bulk, so that's the way he did and by the early 1890s, his Lancaster Caramel Company…

Lancaster Caramel Company Lancaster Caramel Company Pricing

…grew to over 1300 workers in two factories.

By 1900, he sold the caramel company and bought up farmland about 30 miles northwest of Lancaster where he could obtain large supplies of fresh milk. Milk chocolate was a luxury product of the time and he was bent to make his own formula for it …and his fortune.

He succeeded, creating the first Hershey bar in 1900…

The first Hershey Bar

…Hershey’s kisses were developed in 1907 andn the Hershey bar with almonds was introduced in 1908. In 1903 he started construction on what was going to be the world’s largest chocolate plant using mass production techniques. The candy became a national brand.

Hershey married to Catherine Sweeney from Jamestown, New York whom he had met in a candy shop in New York while delivering his caramels.

Milton Hershey and his wife

They lived in this mansion…

Milton Hershey home

…but had no children and she died in 1915. He never remarried and had no children. So, he transferred most of his assets to philanthropic pursuits.

In the world of near misses, the Hershey’s skirted a disaster of 1912 they were booked on the doomed Titanic, but cancelled their reservations at the last minute due to business matters.

Hershey founded what is now the Milton S. Hershey School in 1909 – providing free education, food, health care and clothing to needy kids.

Milton Hershey School

During World War II, Hershey supply the U.S. Armed Forces with chocolate bars. They were called ration D bars and tropical chocolate bars.

Hershey bars for US Army during WWII

After retiring from the board of Hershey, Milton lived in the town he founded but died of pneumonia in Hershey Hospital in October 1945 at the age of 88.

At the Hershey school, there's a statue of him with an orphan boy with this plaque reading:

Milton Hershey plaque

Milton S. Hershey is buried with his wife and parents at the Hershey Cemetery…

Hershey Cemetery

…near Chocolate Avenue, just off Hersheypark Drive in Hershey, Pa.

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