Hershey, Pennsylvania is called the sweetest place as well as a ‘town built on chocolate.’ The reasons for this are quite obvious. Hershey is the location of the Hershey Company and founder, Milton S. Hershey actually founded the town as well. Today, there is a theme park there devoted entirely to chocolate called, of course Hersheypark. It is like a dream to think about let alone to behold. The story of the man behind the company and subsequently the park is an incredibly interesting one.
Milton S. Hershey was a kind, driven and intriguing fellow who was as much a philanthropist as he was a businessman. He came from a Pennsylvania Mennonite family and is of Swiss and German ancestry. Many attribute his strong work ethic to his time spent farming with his parents. After leaving the family farm, Hershey learned the confection trade. In 1886 he returned to his home to found The Lancaster Caramel Company. The company was a great success and prospered under his competence and fine business sense. It grew so successful, it was able to fund his true dream for the future.
From here, Hershey’s path was truly ingenious and amazing. He sold the Lancaster Caramel Company at a nice profit and purchased 30 acres of farmland near his original home in Derry Church. Here, he could obtain the amount of milk necessary to test his ventures into milk chocolate, which was a luxury product at the time. He used his experience in caramels and built upon them in his milk chocolate work.
In 1903, Mr. Hershey began construction on his massive chocolate factory. Like a real life Willy Wonka, Hershey was an innovator who didn’t let the idea that putting a factory in a plot of farmland meant there was no transport infrastructure in place stop him. With Hershey’s support, others in the area rallied and a whole town sprang up including churches, houses and other local businesses. Hershey went on to establish the Milton Hershey School (originally, the Hershey Industrial School) to help with education. He eventually donated most of his wealth to a foundation that oversees both the school and his famous theme park.
Hersheypark, established in 1906, obviously dominates the attractions in the area. It is endearing to know that originally it was meant to be a recreational park for the employees of Mr. Hershey’s company. The park saw its first roller coaster in 1923 and has expanded widely from there. It is now the area’s premiere theme park. The park is next door to Hershey’s Chocolate World in which, among other things, guests can take a chocolate factory themed tour ride.
There are so many things to do and experience at Hersheypark, it is impossible to detail them all. There is an animal park, amusement rides and special events galore. In the surrounding town, guests can enjoy museums, live theater, fine and casual dining and shopping of all kinds. Whatever you enjoy, you can find it in Hershey!