If you have ever enjoyed a Hershey Chocolate Bar, then this is a place you should visit. Hershey, PA is truly the Chocolate Capital of the World. We had no idea what we would find in Hershey, but we were not disappointed.
We stayed at the Hersheypark Camping Resort. This is a part of the Hersheypark system. We were there prior to the summer season and the park was very quiet. The park is well maintained, but a bit old. The sites were not on an angle, which always makes backing into the site more of a challenge. The camp store had plenty to offer and we were able to purchase discount tickets for other Hersheypark attractions.
We were told reservations at the Hershey Chocolate World would not be necessary during our stay and they were right! There was plenty of room to park and no line for the Hershey Chocolate Tour. This is the only free activity and it replaced the previous factory tour. It was so good, we stayed on the ride for a second run. As with everything we did, we got free chocolate at the end of the ride.
We decided to take the Hershey Trolley Works Historic Tour. This trolley tour took us through the City of Hershey. You may have heard about “company towns” where workers rented homes and had credit at company stores. This was not the case in Hershey. Milton Hershey established his Chocolate Factory in Derry Township and literally built the City of Hershey around it. He built homes that his employees could purchase. He built schools, libraries, hospitals, and more. He encouraged entrepreneurship, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, were invented by one of Hershey’s employees and Hershey supported his work and partnered with him. Hershey eventually purchased the Reese Candy Company, make Harry Reese a rich man.
Hershey and his wife did not have children. In 1910 he created a school for orphans, beginning with four students, and, later, underprivileged youth. The Milton Hershey School is free for students and is funded by a trust containing most of Hershey’s fortune, valued at about US$15 billion, making it the wealthiest U.S. private school. Nearly half of the trust’s money comes from its controlling interest in Hershey’s chocolate company. This school provided full time room and board from kindergarten through high school. In 1918, Hershey put most of his fortune—including his share of his company’s stock—into a trust for the school, valued at $60 million altogether. The story of the Milton Hershey School is truly inspirational.
Of course, we were given chocolate samples throughout the tour, Reese’s Cups, Hershey Kisses of multiple flavors, finishing with a full sized Hershey Bar. What a sweet trip!
The next day we split up, with Pat going to the Hershey Gardens and I toured the Hershey Story Museum on Chocolate Avenue. A quick note – the street lights on Chocolate Avenue and Park Avenue are in the shape of Hershey Kisses.
The Hershey Story is the story of Milton Hershey. It is the story of a man who started with nothing and revolutionized the worldwide chocolate industry. If it wasn’t for Milton Hershey there would have been no milk chocolate. As inspiring as Hershey’s story is, the development of the City of Hershey and the Milton Hershey School was more so. Not only did Milton Hershey build a self-sustaining community in Pennsylvania, he did it in Cuba. Hershey created farms to grow cocoa beans in Cuba and created the town of Central Hershey in Cuba, modeled on the city in the U.S. Milton Hershey provided free public education for his workers’ children. Just as he did in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Mr. Hershey built and furnished the school building before donating it to the community. This community excelled until the farm was nationalized under Castro and degraded from there. A sad end to another great story.
On May 19th, we hooked back up and headed to Croton Point Campground on the Hudson River in New York.
By the way, this is an actual Hershey Bar that is sold at the Hershey Chocolate World. Way too much chocolate for me!