Milton S. Hershey

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Milton Snavely Hershey (September 13, 1857October 13, 1945) founded the Hershey Chocolate Company.

Hershey was born at a farm near Derry Church in central Pennsylvania. He was born and raised as a Mennonite, being the descendant of Swiss-German Mennonites. He attended school up to 4th grade before becoming apprenticed to a printer in Gap, Pennsylvania. He was never successful as a printer and his interests turned elsewhere.

At 18, he opened a candy business in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After six years of operation, the business closed. After living in Denver, Colorado, he learned how to make high quality caramel. In 1886 he moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania and opened the successful Lancaster Caramel Company.

He visited the 1893 Columbia Exposition in Chicago and marveled at the chocolate making machine exhibited by a German company. Chocolate was basically unknown in the United States with only a few regional companies producing it. He bought the machines at the close of the exhibition and had them shipped home to Lancaster. In 1894 he started the subsidiary, Hershey Chocolate Company, to create chocolate coatings for his caramel, cocoa drinks, and the famous Hershey's baking chocolate. He experimented and perfected the process of making milk chocolate using the techniques he had learned for adding milk to make caramels.

He sold the Lancaster Caramel Company for one million dollars in 1900 but retained the chocolate company and the rights to produce chocolate products.

He returned to his birthplace in 1903 to build the world's largest chocolate factory. The location, which was in the center of dairy farmland, would later become Hershey, Pennsylvania, as houses, businesses, churches, and a transportation infrastructure accreted around the plant. Because the land was surrounded by dairy farms, he was able to use fresh milk to mass-produce quality milk chocolate.

When Milton and his wife Catherine could not have children, they decided to use their successes to benefit others. They opened the Hershey Industrial School in 1909, renamed in 1951 to the Milton Hershey School. The high school was intended for white boys who were orphans or came from broken homes.

In 1918, Hershey transferred the majority of his assets, including his control of the chocolate company, to the formation of the Hershey Trust Co., to benefit the Industrial School. The trust fund has a majority of voting shares in Hershey Foods Corporation which allows it to keep control of the company. It also has 100 per cent control of Hershey Entertainment and Resorts, which owns the Hershey Hotel and Hersheypark, among other properties. All profits from this trust fund are required to go to towards helping the children who go to the school. Due to the massive amounts of confectionery sold to date, the fund is worth billions.

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