Jul 7, 2013

Milton and the Chocolate Town: Milton Hershey’s Amazing life

I’ve just finished reading the book “The Emperors of Chocolate.”

As I wrote in my previous entries, “"Gibu Mi Chokoreito": Ration D Bars and Japanese Children” and “The Ethics of Protestantism and The Spirits of Chocolate,” this book is about the U.S. chocolate industry, focusing especially on the competition between Hershey and Mars.

I was interested in Milton Hershey, who was a founder of the Hershey Company. His life was full of amazing stories.

He was born in 1857 in rural Pennsylvania. His parents were Mennonites, who were similar to the Amish. His mother expected that he would be a farmer like the people in his community were, and he went to school just until fourth grade.

But he didn’t become a farmer, instead he established a candy maker. In 1893, he found that chocolate machinery was exhibited at World’s Columbian Exposition and he bought all of the equipment after the exposition. He became the first major chocolate maker in the U.S.

At that time, Milton Hershey didn’t know how to make chocolate, so he learned it through trial and error. In the end, he created a chocolate with unique Hershey’s flavor. Because of its flavor, Hershey’s chocolate became quite popular in the U.S., but they couldn’t sell it well abroad.

Although his chocolate was almost dominat in the U.S. market, Milton Hershey himself was rarely interested in business. Using the huge profit by his chocolate, he began to build the city Hershey, near his birthplace.

In the early twentieth century, Milton Hershey built not only his huge chocolate factory but also infrastructure of the city Hershey, like streets, transportation, water supply, a park, a swimming pool, a theater, a hotel, and a church, and he supported his factory workers to build their own houses.

Since he didn’t have any children, he transferred a great part of his assets to the Milton Hershey School Trust fund to support the Hershey Industrial School, where many orphans, who got a scholarship from the fund, studied.

The fund had a majority stake in the Hershey Company, so the Hershey Company virtually earned profit in order to support the fund. It is the ultimate philanthropy.

After his death in 1945, the Hershey Company changed. In his days, although the Hershey Company  didn’t do marketing, their chocolate sold quite well and earned huge profit.

But the competition in the chocolate market got more severe, and it got more difficult for the Hershey Company to support the city Hershey. And now, the Hershey Company is an ordinary “Fortune Top 500 company.” 

Someday, I want to visit Hershey’s Chocolate World and stay Hotel Hershey in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

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