Here's the entrance the Hershey's Chocolate World. This is where the tours are to learn about chocolate. But the Hershey's complex is a lot more. There's a trolley tour around town, an amusement park (that doesn't open full time until Memorial Day weekend), a sports stadium, the Milton Hershey School which started out as an orphanage but now is a residential school for pre-K through high school. Students used to learn a trade, can now be from single-parent families, and earn college scholarships if they don't go right into a career for which they receive training and apprenticeships.
This is the original Milton Hershey School, now used for middle school students.
This is the original Hershey home where Milton grew up. It now houses the director of the school.
The campus now has a Founders Hall, which has a beautiful rotunda to honor Milton and Katherine (Kitty) Hershey. She could not have children, so the orphanage and school were a way for them to help other children. Kitty considered them "her" children.
Inside the marble rotunda are flags representing the states from which the students come. Currently there are over 2,000 students of which over half are in high school.
Milton and Kitty would probably be embarrassed by the opulence of the Founders Hall,
but the crystal chandeliers are really beautiful, and it shows how much their philanthropy is appreciated.
The Hersheys were wealthy, but Milton went bankrupt several times making candy and investing in other ventures. He started making Lancaster Caramels and later began coating them with chocolate. An investor from England sought him out, and when he went to Europe, he found that children sucked the chocolate off his caramels and spit them out. So he came home and switched to making chocolate--after selling the caramel company for lots of money.
This is the home Milton built for Kitty.
Later he gave it to the Hershey Country Club, moved to Cuba after Kitty's death to buy his own sugar plantation, and returned to live in upstairs 2 rooms. Below is the golf course.
Milton always "gave back" from the wealth he acquired. He did it because it was the right thing to do.
The town that chocolate built has Hershey's Kisses for the light posts down the main street.
An overview of the town from the old high school shows the amusement park and the stadium.
The Hershey Company has a number of plants in town. One is devoted to Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Reese's Pieces. Milton Hershey didn't like the product developed by an employee who then started his own company, eventually bought out by Hershey. Only 3% of all Hershey's products are made outside the U.S.
After the trolley tour we went to Hershey University, actually the Tasting Experience.
We got to try 5 different kinds of chocolate and learn about the different flavor "notes" in the taste.
The 4 things to do when tasting (not eating without savoring and letting it melt on the tongue) are
1. Look (how dark is the chocolate? that shows how much cacao it contains)
2. Listen (does it make a "crisp" sound when you break off a piece? if so, it has more cacao)
3. Smell (what flavor "notes" do you smell at the place where it was broken in two)
4. Taste (let it melt on your tongue, don't just chew it up and swallow)
These are different sizes of cacao pods. Inside is a sweet flesh that covers the seeds. Inside the seeds (which the natives noticed that the monkeys who ate the fruit spit out) are the nibs which become chocolate after breaking and roasting.
Cacao from different parts of the world have different flavors and are blended when making chocolate.
The seeds are fermented in the sun before the outside flesh is dried and removed to get to the nibs.
The Hershey World Experience is a "ride" that shows a simulation of the factory process.
This is how many Hershey products are produced EACH day.
Hershey bars are poured into molds on a conveyer belt.
Hershey's Kisses are dropped onto a steel drum. The signature twist at the top is the result of pulling the depositor away from the drop of chocolate.
The Hershey Company now makes many different products.
We enjoyed our day in Hershey, PA.
Here's the photo on the tour that we did NOT purchase.
Of course, there is a HUGE store where I saw something new—Coconut Macadamia Nut Kisses.