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Milton Snavely Hershey
Born Milton Snavely Hershey
September 13, 1857(1857-09-13)
Derry Church, Pennsylvania
Died October 13, 1945 (aged 88)
Hershey, Pennsylvania
Nationality American
Other names Mr. Hershey
Education Finished only fourth grade
Known for Founder, Hershey Foods Corporation, philanthropist
Religion Mennonite
Spouse(s) Catherine "Kitty" Sweeney (1871-1915)
Parents Henry Hershey, Fanny Snavely Hershey

Milton Snavely Hershey (September 13, 1857 – October 13, 1945) was a confectioner, philanthropist, and founder of The Hershey Chocolate Company and the “company town” of Hershey, Pennsylvania.


Early life

Milton Hershey was born on a farm close to Dauphin County, Pennsylvania town of Derry Church (renamed Hershey in 1906), the only surviving child of Henry and Fanny Snavley Hershey. Due to the family’s frequent moves he dropped out of school after the fourth grade and was then apprenticed to a Lancaster, Pennsylvania, printer. The apprenticeship was soon terminated as he did not like the craft and purposely let his hat fall into the printing press. He then served a four-year apprenticeship with a Lancaster candy maker, after which he established his first candy-making business in Philadelphia. That initial effort failed, as did his next two attempts in Chicago and New York City. His Reformed Mennonite mother’s family financed several of these unsuccessful ventures in the candy industry. His mother was not very wealthy, yet she still did mostly everything for him.

Lancaster Caramel Company

Returning to Lancaster in 1883, Hershey established the Lancaster Caramel Company, which quickly became an outstanding success. Utilizing a caramel recipe he had obtained during his previous travels, his company soared to the top. It was this business that established him as a candy maker, and set the stage for future accomplishments.

Hershey became fascinated with the machinery to make German chocolate exhibited at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, and bought the equipment for his company.

Hershey Chocolate

With the proceeds from the caramel factory, Hershey acquired some 40,000 acres (160 km²) of undeveloped land north of Lancaster, near his birthplace of Derry Church. There, he could obtain the large supplies of fresh milk needed to perfect and produce fine milk chocolate. Excited by the potential of milk chocolate, which at that time was a Swiss luxury product, Hershey was determined to develop a formula for milk chocolate and market and sell it to the American public. Through trial and error, he created his own formula for milk chocolate. In 1903, he began construction on what was to become the world’s largest chocolate manufacturing plant. The facility, completed in 1905, was designed to manufacture chocolate using the latest mass production techniques. Hershey’s milk chocolate quickly became the first nationally marketed product of its kind.

The factory was in the center of dairy farmland, but with Hershey’s support, 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. Hershey continued to experiment and perfect the process of making milk chocolate using the techniques he had first learned for adding milk to make caramels.

The town of Hershey

Hershey envisioned a complete community around his factory. He built a model town for his employees that included comfortable homes, an inexpensive public transportation system, a quality public school system and extensive recreational and cultural opportunities. Hershey avoided building a faceless company town with row houses. He wanted a home town with tree-lined streets, single- and two-family brick houses, and manicured lawns. He was concerned about providing adequate recreation and diversions, so he built HersheyPark which opened on 24 April 1907, and expanded rapidly over the next several years. Amusement rides, a swimming pool, and a ballroom were added. Soon, trolley cars and trains were bringing thousands of out-of-town visitors to the park


On May 25, 1898, Hershey married Catherine "Kitty" Sweeney . Since the couple could not have children, they decided to benefit others, opening the Hershey Industrial School in 1909.[1] Catherine died prematurely in 1915 and Hershey never remarried. In 1918, he secretly endowed the school with his entire fortune of Hershey Chocolate Company stock. He took great pride in the growth of the school, the town, and his business. For the rest of his life, he always placed the quality of his product and the well-being of his workers ahead of profits. In 1918, Hershey transferred the majority of his assets, including control of the company, to the formation of the Milton Hershey School Trust, to benefit the Industrial School. The trust fund has a majority of voting shares in The Hershey Company, allowing it to keep control of the company. In 1951, the school was renamed the Milton Hershey School. The Milton Hershey School Trust also has 100% control of Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company, which owns the Hotel Hershey and HersheyPark, among other properties.

In 1935, Hershey established the M.S. Hershey Foundation, a private charitable foundation that provides educational and cultural opportunities for Hershey residents. The foundation supplies funding for three entities: the Hershey Museum and Hershey Gardens, the Hershey Theatre and the Hershey Community Archives.

The founding of the Penn State Hershey Medical Center/Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center occurred when the board of the trust went to the Dauphin County Orphans Court with the cy-près doctrine (cy près is a French phrase meaning "As close as possible"). It was a gift from the Milton Hershey School Trust to the people of Pennsylvania, with an initial endowment of $50 million and only one restriction—the hospital had to be built in Hershey. The hospital is a teaching hospital with an annual budget exceeding the initial construction cost.


In 1912, the Hersheys were to travel on the ill-fated British luxury liner RMS Titanic. However, they cancelled their reservations because Mrs. Hershey was ill at the time.[2] Instead, they booked passage to New York City on the German luxury liner Amerika. The Hershey Museum displays a copy of the check Hershey wrote to the White Star Line as a deposit for a first class stateroom on the Titanic.[3]

External links


  1. ^ "Milton Hershey School Deed of Trust" November 15, 1909 (As restated on November 15, 1976)
  2. ^ Hinkle, Marla, "Behind The Chocolate Curtain." The Morning News, February 8, 2004.
  3. ^ Todd Mountford "Milton S. Hershey's link to Titanic highlights exhibit" The Harrisburg Patriot-News, January 10, 2009.

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