Hershey, Milton

Hershey, Milton (Snavely)

(1857–1945) candy manufacturer, philanthropist; born in Derry Township, Pa. His father moved so frequently, Milton attended seven schools in eight years, never progressing beyond grade four. He apprenticed to a Lancaster, Pa., confectioner (1872–76) and then opened his own candy store in Philadelphia. By 1886 he was back in Lancaster where he soon found success making caramels using fresh milk but by 1900 had sold his caramel business to concentrate on chocolate. In 1903 he built a factory near his birthplace to manufacture five-cent chocolate bars; the business so prospered that "Hershey" became virtually synonymous with chocolate in the U.S.A. and he branched out to dominate the cocoa and syrup markets. In order to maintain his constantly expanding need for reliable workers, he began to build a complete town near the factory, including stores, schools, recreational facilities, and a large amusement park. In 1909 he built a trade school for orphan boys. Although often criticized for his paternalism and for running a "company town," he did expand the town's building program during the 1930s depression and he left his vast fortune to various philanthropies including a medical center.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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