Minus 142 Days - A Chocolate Legacy
courtesy of Tim Manners, Editor of Cool News Reveries:
The brand name "Hershey" is all but a synonym for "chocolate," but reality is that Milton Hershey made his fortune on caramel, relays John Steele Gordon in a Wall Street Journal review of "Hershey," a new book by Michael D'Antonio. Actually, Milton Hershey's first job was as a printer, which he hated. But then he "went to work for a candy maker in Lancaster, Pa.," where "he found his life's work." His entrepreneurial spirit first led to "candy shops and small wholesale operations in Philadelphia and then New York, but both failed." It was only after he "began making caramels according to a new formula that produced a rich, creamy version of the confection" that he hit his mark.Of course, our pledge to Eat Less/Move More does not include Hershey morsels. I can't even imagine the temptation of living in a real chocolate city like Hershey, Pennsylvania!
Even then it wasn't easy. Milton Hershey's distribution strategy began as "a basket on the street" and then evolved into a "pushcart," Chipwich-style. He struggled until one day "a British importer happened to pass through town, tasted the caramels and placed a big order." From that day forward, Hershey's enterprise, The Lancaster Caramel Company, "was on its way." Before long, Milton Hershey had built a 450,000 square-foot factory, and he was rich, rich, rich! The chocolate chapter didn't begin until 1893, when Milton visited the Chicago World's Fair, where J.M. Lehmann, a German candymaker "had installed a small chocolate factory, where the fair-goers could watch the entire process as cocoa beans went in and chocolate bars came out." After the fair closed, Milton bought the factory, "lock, stock and barrel."
The idea of a chocolate bar for the masses was a new one at the time. Indeed, "until late in the 19th century, chocolate was mostly consumed as a drink by the upper classes, for it was expensive to process and solid chocolate tended to be gritty and unpleasantly strong." Milton also noticed that the "Cadbury family of England, who were Quakers, had established a factory out in the countryside and built an entire community around it, a chocolate utopia ... He founded the town that bears his name, paying for many of its public facilities, but it was his encouragement of workers' home ownership that ensure that Hershey, Pa., would thrive and avoid the pitfalls of renters-only company towns." He also "built a school for needy children." Ultimately, of course, Milton Hershey's legacy is this: "Today, Americans eat more than three billion pounds of (chocolate) a year, 11.7 pounds per person."