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Hershey Chocolate used point of purchase placards to market its products in stores. 1933-1936

Hershey Chocolate used point of purchase placards to market its products in stores. 1933-1936


While Hershey’s Milk Chocolate is the United States most iconic confectionery product, not all Hershey products have been so successful.  Sometimes when Hershey introduced a new product, the company was not satisfied with its sales and quickly removed the product from production.  Other times, Hershey continued to market the product, tweaking the recipe, the packaging and even the name.


In 1927, Hershey Chocolate introduced Hershey’s Honey bar.  The bulletin distributed to the sales force announced the product this way:

 Bulletin No. 9 February 22, 1927

Within the current week Hershey Chocolate Company will go into big production of Hershey’s 5-cent HONEY BAR.  We use those descriptive words in alluding to this new bar because the principal ingredients beig sweet milk chocolate, borken almonds, and broken honey nugget, the prinitng on the labels emphasizes the words “HERSHEY’S” and “HONEY” in this manner:

“HERSHEY’S Sweet Milk Chocolate with Almonds and HONEY”


Hershey's HONEY bar. 1927-1930

Hershey’s HONEY bar. 1927-1930


In spite of what I am sure were the company’s best efforts to distribute and market the new candy bar, the product faltered.  Instead of giving up, however, Hershey sought to improve its marketing efforts tweaking the name, so that it would be clear that this was a candy bar.


Hershey's HONEYBAR, 1930-1935

Hershey’s HONEYBAR, 1930-1935


And yet the sales remained sluggish.  Though the “Hershey’s” name was prominent on the package, perhaps the yellow wrapper did not encourage consumers to recognize that this was a Hershey product. So in 1935, Hershey again renamed the product “Hershey’s Honey-Almond Milk Chocolate” and redesigned the wrapper to make it more obviously a Hershey product.


Hershey's Honey-Almond Milk Chocolate. 1935-8/1939

Hershey’s Honey-Almond Milk Chocolate. 1935-8/1939


And still product sales lagged.  Maybe no one knew what honey-almond milk chocolate tasted like?


So Hershey tried one more time, reintroducing the product in 1939 as Hershey’s Nougat-Almond bar.


Point of purchase advertising placard for Hershey's Nougat-Almond Milk Chocolate. 1939-1941

Point of purchase advertising placard for Hershey’s Nougat-Almond Milk Chocolate. 1939-1941


With this new name, Hershey replaced the familiar maroon and silver packaging with blue and white. To promote the product, Hershey’s Nougat-Almond bars were one of the five products included in Hershey’s Miniatures (the other products were milk chocolate, Mr. Goodbar, Krackel, and Bitter-Sweet) when it was introduced in 1939.


Hershey’s Nougat-Almond bars were discontinued in 1942, as part of Hershey’s product line consolidation in response to wartime restrictions.

Looking back: Hershey Chocolate products

In-store advertising placard for Hershey's Chocolate.  1955

In-store advertising placard for Hershey’s Chocolate. 1955


Hershey’s Milk Chocolate is one of the great iconic American products.  Introduced in 1900, it has delighted generations of candy lovers.


Not all products are so successful. This week’s blog post takes a look at some of Hershey’s less successful products that were introduced with high hopes, only to be discontinued a few years (or months!) later because the public didn’t embrace the new confection, or manufacturing costs were too high or the product turned out to have some other challenge.


During the 1930s, Hershey Chocolate introduced a number of new products, including Krackel, Not-So-Sweet (a forerunner of Hershey’s Special Dark) and Hershey’s Miniatures.  Other products were not so successful.


Hershey's Mild and Mellow milk chocolate bar was introduced in January 1934.

Hershey’s Mild and Mellow milk chocolate bar was introduced in January 1934.


Hershey’s Mild and Mellow milk chocolate was introduced in early 1934. Developed to appeal to people who enjoyed a more milky, European style chocolate, it remained in production until the end of 1941. The United States’ entry in to World War II and Hershey’s need to reduce its product line because of sugar rationing forced the elimination of the Mild and Mellow bar. It was not reintroduced after the end of the war. However, in 1989 Hershey Chocolate introduced Hershey’s Symphony. The new product featured a milder, more milky style of milk chocolate. Twenty-five years later,  Hershey’s Symphony milk chocolate is an important part of the company’s product line.


During the 1930s, Hershey Chocolate Corporation experimented with a partnership with the British confectionery firm, Rowntree.  In 1934 Hershey acquired the right to manufacture and market a new Rowntree products:  the Aero bar.


Hershey Chocolate acquired the rights to manufacture and market the Aero bar in the United States from the Rowntree Company.

Hershey Chocolate acquired the rights to manufacture and market the Aero bar in the United States from the Rowntree Company.


Unfortunately, manufacturing the Aero bar was not easy. It involved placing the still liquid chocolate bars into a chamber where the air could be vacuumed out. The process caused the chocolate to form tiny air bubbles that gave the bar its characteristic wafer appearance. Too many problems with manufacturing and not enough sales resulted in the bar being discontinued in May 1939.


In 1938 Hershey again entered an agreeement with Rowntree to produce and market another bar: the Biscrisp bar.


Hershey's Biscrisp bars were introduced in 1938.

Hershey’s Biscrisp bars were introduced in 1938.


The Biscrisp bar also presented several manufacturing challenges for Hershey. It was difficult to make the wafers that were enrobed by chocolate. American wheat flour is different than British flour and that affected the quality of the wafers. Even though Americans loved the product, it was discontinued the following year.


If the image of the Biscrisp bar looks familiar, that is because, in England, the bar was called Kit Kat.  In 1969, Hershey again entered into a licensing agreement with Rowntree (now Rowntree Macintosh, Ltd.) to manufacture and market the candy bar. This time, Rowntree supplied technical support to help Hershey learn the intricacies of wafer baking and bar production. Today Hershey’s Kit Kat bar continue to be a popular confection in the company’s product line.

It Can Be Done: Milton Hershey and the Edgar Guest Show

In Hershey, we like to think that all roads lead to our special town. And it is pretty amazing the people who show up here. And if they don’t show up here, they want Hershey to come to them.


Correspondence regarding unused Travelers Cheques in the name of M.S. Hall.  11/15/1945

Correspondence regarding unused Travelers Cheques in the name of M.S. Hall. 11/15/1945


Milton Hershey was not someone to seek the limelight.  In fact, at times he traveled under an assumed name, just to avoid attention. But, at times, he was enticed to share his life and success with others, if only to promote awareness of his home and school for orphan boys.


Edgar Guest, host of the "It Can Be Done" radio show.

Edgar Guest, host of the “It Can Be Done” radio show.


Edgar A. Guest was one of the most popular verse writers in early 20th century America. Born in England, Guest was a naturalized citizen who spoke on the air with an accent cultivated from the heartland of America. He was unpretentious and projected a “down home” appeal, and Americans rewarded him with commercial success.


During his years on the radio, Edgar Guest presented several different shows. Musical Memories, his earliest series, was 30 minutes of music, readings, and drama. His next show, Welcome Valley, was straight drama. His show featured a distinguished cast that included many who were already or would become radio stars.


His next show, It Can Be Done, was a dramatic departure from the previous formats. Edgar Guest as host, the time-slot, and the sponsor remained, but almost everything else about the show was changed.


It Can Be Done featured inspirational stories and interviews with people who had triumphed in their chosen fields despite hardship and adversity.


Milton Hershey, seated in his apartment living room in High Point. 5/1937

Milton Hershey, seated in his apartment living room in High Point. 5/1937


Milton Hershey was a natural subject for such a show. On June 8, 1938, Milton Hershey traveled to Chicago to be the focus of that night’s episode of It Can Be Done. The episode opened with a dramatization of Milton Hershey’s life, with its financial struggles and ultimate success. The last portion of the show featured an interview with Milton Hershey himself.  Milton Hershey answered questions with prepared answers. The interview focused on the work of the Hershey Industrial School (Milton Hershey School) and lauded Milton Hershey’s achievements.


While the content of the interview doesn’t offer much new, in terms of information, it is a rare opportunity to actually hear Milton Hershey’s voice. You can listen to an excerpt from the interview for yourself.



Want to know more? The partial transcript of the interview can be found here. The full transcript is available at the Archives.


Making a difference: Hershey Optimist Club

Hershey is fortunate to have several service organizations. While clubs have come and gone, they all exist to provide opportunities for individuals to make a difference in their community.


Hershey YMCA and the Busy Men's Doggy Bow-Wow at a dinner held at the Hershey Cafe. 3/1913

Hershey YMCA and the Busy Men’s Doggy Bow-Wow at a dinner held at the Hershey Cafe. 3/1913


The Archives is fortunate to have the records of a number of different service organizations that have operated in Hershey. Some are still going strong, while others have passed away.  To learn more about the community collections held by the Archives, follow this link.


Hershey Optimist Club members practice for an upcoming event at the Little Theater in the Community Building. ca1962-1963

Hershey Optimist Club members practice for an upcoming event at the Little Theater in the Community Building. ca1962-1963


The Hershey Optimist Club was founded in 1954, when it was sponsored by the Lebanon Optimist Club. An initial organizational dinner was held on May 5, 1954 with 13 prospective members in attendance. On May 19, 16 charter members attended the organizational meeting and elected officers.  By the time the charter closed on June 2, Hershey Optimist Club had 40 members. The Club held its Charter Party on September 25, 1954 at the Hershey Park Golf Club.  Regular meetings thereafter were held in the Community Building dining room.


Junior hockey team sponsored by the Hershey Optimist Club.  Coach Arnie Kullman is pictured on right. ca1960-1970

Junior hockey team sponsored by the Hershey Optimist Club. Coach Arnie Kullman is pictured on right. ca1960-1970


The Club has always focused its efforts towards helping and supporting the youth of the community. During its long years of operation, the Hershey Optimist Club sponsored youth athletic teams and programs promoting safety, education, respect for the law, and civic duty in Hershey’s youth. Over the years, Hershey Optimists sponsored a variety of programs including Bike Safety Week, the Oratorical Contest, the Respect for Law program, Boys Work projects, and Youth Appreciation Week.


In recent years the Hershey Optimist Club struggled to attract new members. In 2007 the club’s charter was revoked and the chapter was officially closed.


The Hershey Idea

Milton Hershey envisioned building a community in which all the parts were interwoven.  He built a model town for the workers of chocolate factory AND the workers in the businesses he established to provide services to make the town an attractive and functional place to live.


His desire to share his approach to business was communicated in recurring articles in the local weekly newspaper, The Hershey Press


Hershey's Progressive Weekly, July 10, 1913.  page 10

Hershey’s Progressive Weekly, July 10, 1913. page 10


For a short while, Milton Hershey even considered publishing a monthly magazine, to be titled, “The Hershey Idea.” Plans for the magazine were laid out in a full page ad that appeared in the Hershey Press.


The magazine promised to “attach the oppressions of dishonest Capitalism and the unjust assaults of Labor upon Capital. . .” It would include political and economic news in an “absolutely unbiased and judicial manner.”  It would also have a short story section.  The advertisement noted that the magazine’s first issue would be published in September 1913.


We don’t know why, but the magazine never materialized.


However, “The Hershey Idea” continued as an important philosophy of how Milton Hershey conducted business.


Team Work Sells the Hershey Idea.  Memo issued to all Hershey employees.  1938

Team Work Sells the Hershey Idea. Memo issued to all Hershey employees. 1938


The 1938 memo outlined Milton Hershey’s vision for his community and how he hoped all the different businesses would recognize that they were part of a larger whole.  What is fascinating about the memo today is that it continues to reflect how Milton Hershey’s businesses continue to try to work together for the benefit of consumers and visitors to the town today.


The text of the memo follows:



     Visitors coming to Hershey should readily be sold on the HERSHEY IDEA as our facilities and attractions are not to be excelled.

      The public and our customers regard all our enterprises as one institution. This places a real responsibility on all enterprises alike because any lack of courtesy or efficiency in any one enterprise almost certainly reflects into every other enterprise in the customers mind and patronage. This applies impressively to customers and residents of Hershey.

     This element means greatly accumulated results for good or bad. Any customer lost by one enterprise for any reason of times produces a total loss of patronage for all other enterprises of the whole institution.

     We must depend almost entirely for creating the proper atmosphere by real efficient service and the co-operation of all enterprises.

Signed M.S. Hershey


A Neat Folder.
This can be made effective if you will sign and distribute to every clerk in the Hershey Department Store, down the line, including the Hershey National Bank.

Building Hershey: C.Emlen Urban



C. Emlen Urban, 1863-1939. (Image courtesy of


This Sunday (October 5, 2014) The Hershey Story and the Hershey-Derry Township Historical Society are hosting a special walking tour of our downtown.  The tour will highlight some of the many buildings designed by noted architect, Cassius Emlem Urban, better known as Emlen to his friends. Mr. Urban was responsible for the design of some of Hershey’s most iconic buildings, including the Convention Hall, High Point and the Hershey Press Building.  It is remarkable to think that when you walk down Chocolate Avenue, much of what stands was designed by one architect.


Chocolate Avenue, 2007

Chocolate Avenue, 2007


So how did a Lancaster born and bred architect come to play such an important role in shaping the physical look of Hershey?


Cassius Emlen Urban (1863-1939) was born in Conestoga Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  After graduating from Lancaster’s Boys High School, he apprenticed as a draftsman at a Scranton architectural firm before returning to Lancaster in 1886.  That was the same year Milton Hershey also returned to establish the Lancaster Caramel Company.


Watt & Shand Department Store, Lancaster, PA. ca1905. Designed by C.Emlen Urban

Watt & Shand Department Store, Lancaster, PA. ca1905. Designed by C.Emlen Urban


Like Milton Hershey, Urban’s career quickly took off as he received commissions to design what became many of Lancaster’s signature buildings: Southern Market on Queen Street (1886), Watt and Shand Department Store (1898), and St. James Lutheran Church parish House on Duke Street (1903).


While Urban and Hershey must have at least  been aware of each other due to their close ages and similar status as members of Lancaster’s most notable young business owners, they also met socially through the Hamilton Club, a private men’s club, established in 1889 by some of Lancaster’s most prominent business and political leaders.  Milton Hershey was invited to join in 1893, a sure sign of his growing prominence in the Lancaster business and social circles.  Through the Hamilton Club, Milton Hershey established and nurtured relationships that became invaluable when he began making plans for his new chocolate factory and the model community that would surround it.


C. Emlen Urban played a significant role shaping the look of the community.  Urban was responsible for the design of all the new town’s major buildings constructed between 1903 and 1926:


Hershey Chocolate Factory, postcard view. 1909

Hershey Chocolate Factory, postcard view. 1909


List of C. Emlen Urban designed buildings in Hershey:

1903    Original Hershey Chocolate Company Offices and Factory    (demolished 1931)

1905    Cocoa House (1 Chocolate Avenue) (demolished 1963)

1908    High Point

1910    McKinley Building 1910 expansion (demolished 1928)

1914    M.S. Hershey Consolidated Building

1914    Hershey Trust Company (1 W. Chocolate Avenue)

1915*  Community Building and Hershey Theatre (14 E. Chocolate Avenue)

1915    Convention Hall

1916    Hershey Press Building

1909-1916       Mansions along Chocolate Avenue


*Urban was also responsible for the design of the Community Building and Theatre, even though the structure was not constructed until 1932.  The designs and the intent to construct it was announced in the Hershey Press newspaper in 1915.  The United States’ entry into World War I delayed the start of construction.  A variety of financial and business related obstacles delayed the start of construction until 1928.

Back to School! Again!

Dedication of the M.S. Hershey Consolidated School. 1914

Dedication of the M.S. Hershey Consolidated School. 1914


By now, students everywhere are back in school.  We can definitely feel it here in Hershey, as Hersheypark has closed, except for a few more weekends, and Hershey residents can drive through town without being slowed by tourist traffic.


Hershey residents take pride in the quality of our public school system.  Good schools were valued by Milton Hershey and he made significant contributions to ensure that Hershey children would have access to a quality education.


2014 marks the centennial of Milton Hershey’s first significant gift to Hershey’s public schools: the M.S. Hershey Consolidated School of Derry Township.  Dedicated on October 13, 1914, the M.S. Hershey Consolidated School offered education for grades 1-12.  The building had 18 class rooms on three floors, a kindergarten, library, bathrooms, playrooms and lunch rooms.


Class portrait, Derry Township School District. ca.1920-1930

Class portrait, Derry Township School District. ca.1920-1930


The building was designed to serve up to 850 students.  Students began their academic career as kindergartners on the first level and literally worked their way through the building, grade by grade.  Students finally made their way to the top floor for their High School years.


Hershey Junior-Senior High School, graduating class.  ca.1925-1950

Hershey Junior-Senior High School, graduating class. ca.1925-1950


This school building was only one of many gifts Milton Hershey would make to the Derry Township School District during his lifetime.    You can read more about the history of Hershey public education here and here.


Time to shop!

Hershey Store Company offered a full range of goods, including clothing, furniture, tools and groceries.  ca1910-1920

Hershey Store Company offered a full range of goods, including clothing, furniture, tools and groceries. ca1910-1920


For many children, next week means back to school.  A lot of shopping will be taking place between now and Monday to prepare for a new year.  


In Hershey, shopping options have evolved over the years.  Today, Hershey has a wide array of retail venues that are housed at an outlet center located off of Hersheypark Drive.  Shopping downtown is limited, to say the least.  It wasn’t always this way.


Hershey Store Company opened in 1910.  It offered a full range of goods for sale.  1912

Hershey Store Company opened in 1910. It offered a full range of goods for sale. 1912


Milton Hershey’s plans for a model industrial town included establishing a store to meet the community’s shopping needs.  Like many of his other ventures, the first store, established in 1907, was a modest venture, located in a corner of the Cocoa House.  This general store soon expanded, quickly outgrowing its original location.  In 1909 a building was begun on the southwest corner of Chocolate and Cocoa Avenues to house the rapidly growing business.  This new building was designed with a Spanish style of architecture, with projecting red-tiled eaves and stuccoed walls.  When first erected the building formed a perfect a square, 120′ on each side with 2 stories and a basement.  A addition was built in 1911.


The Hershey Store Company offered many different things to its customers.  The store liked to boast that it could care for people’s needs ‘from cradle to grave.’  A article in the  May 28, 1914 issue of the Hershey Press, stated:


The store can furnish the lumber, hardware and other materials to build a house, can furnish the workmen to supply complete lighting equipment, can install any kind of heating and plumbing system and can furnish it (the house) throughout from the stove in the kitchen to the elegant suite for the parlor, including carpet, rugs, shades and everything needed or desired for the house.  It can furnish clothing for the whole family with groceries, meats and vegetables, ice for preservation and coal to cook them.  From the west annex it can supply the farmer with tools and machinery, with carriages and wagons, with seeds and feed for stock, and can shoe his horse and repair his wagons and harnesses.


A drug store was available within the store with a druggist on duty until 10:00 every night.  There were services available in the basement including cobbling, electrical heating, plumbing and tinning departments.  The store also took orders for automobiles and had a bakery.


Hershey Department Store.  ca1926-1935

Hershey Department Store. ca1926-1935


As it continued to expand its services, merchandise and business, the store again outgrew its confines.  In 1920 it relocated across the street to the Hershey Press Building, standing on the corner of Chocolate and Park Avenues. This three story building covered nearly 60,000 square feet, more than twice as much as had the previous location.  The business was renamed the Hershey Department Store and operated from this location until it closed in 1973.

Taking to the skies: Hershey Air Park

Hershey Chocolate store window display, ca.1930-1932

Hershey Chocolate store window display, ca.1930-1932

By the 1930s, air travel had moved from fantasy to reality for more and more people.  Small airfields seemed to be popping up everywhere as various government departments worked to encourage a network of air fields across the United States.  In addition to providing landing strips for private airplanes, these air fields provided mechanical repairs and maintenance, as well as offering flying lessons and sight-seeing tours.  With Hershey’s emergence as a regional destination in the 1930s, it was only a matter of time before Hershey had its own air field.

During the last years of World War II, the Pennsylvania Aeronautics Commission, represented by William Anderson,  encouraged communities across the state to build local airfields. In respond to growing numbers of people who wanted air service to and from Hershey and those who wanted the opportunity to view Hershey from the air, Hershey Estates opened the Hershey Air Park on July 31, 1944.


Hershey Air Park, 6/28/1946

Hershey Air Park, 6/28/1946


The original air field was located across the street from Hershey Park and just below the Hershey Rose Garden.  An unnamed road separated it from Hershey Park.  Until this point the road had been referred to as the access road to Route 22.  It was now officially named:  Airport Road.


To manage the air park, Hershey Estates selected Herbert Erdman, a World War II pilot and the son of Harry Erdman, Hershey’s horticulturist and manager of the Hershey Nursery.


The Air Park offered a variety of services, including airplane storage in hangers, flying lessons and sight-seeing tours.


Hershey Air Park, 1950

Hershey Air Park, 1950


The local sight-seeing flights lasted from 10 to 60 minutes and cost $2.00 to $7.50.  A ten-minute flight provided an overview of Hershey.  The hour long sight-seeing trip took passengers throughout the Lebanon Valley and included Harrisburg, Elizabethtown, Cornwall and Fort Indiantown Gap.


Planes were also available for rent at the rate of $7.00 per hour.


Harry Williamson, manager of Hershey Air Park, ca.1951-1973.

Harry Williamson, manager of Hershey Air Park, ca.1951-1973.


About 1951-1953, Harry Williamson became the manager of Hershey Air Park. Under his management, the air park expanded with additional hangers for the storage of private airplanes whose owners rented space for their aircraft. Williamson also represented Piper aircraft, selling airplanes.  He served as manager until 1972-1973.


Plane landing at Hershey Air Park, ca.1960-1980

Plane landing at Hershey Air Park, ca.1960-1980


The Air Park was a popular addition to Hershey’s amenities and was featured frequently in Hershey News articles.


The Air Park was enlarged in 1965. That year a small mound was removed and the runway was expanded to 3000 feet and paved.


About 1972-1973 Bob Mumma leased the Air Park.  The air park was renamed Derry Aire.  The lease passed to someone else a few years later.


It closed on January 31, 1981.  Without an air park located along the road, Airport Road was renamed Hersheypark Drive in March 1981.


When you drive along Hersheypark Drive now, you can still see remnants of the air park.  Today the area is used for overflow parking, the Antique Auto Show in October and the Pennsylvania State Police trainees use it to practice their driving skills.

Reese’s Pieces: E.T’s Favorite Candy

Reese's Pieces were introduced in 1978.

Reese’s Pieces were introduced in 1978.


How a great candy was saved from oblivion by a small alien visitor from outer space OR the story of Reese’s Pieces, E.T.’s favorite candy.


In the 1950s, Hershey Chocolate developed the capability for panning; that is, sugar-coating a product.  M&Ms are probably the best known example of a panned candy product.  Hershey’s first panned product was Hershey-Ets, candy-coated chocolate discs or lentils.  One marketing challenge for this new product was that when the company introduced Hershey-Ets, people would say, “What is it?”  And to define it, you had to use the competitor’s name.  That’s a pretty difficult situation.  The product was eventually discontinued, except for holiday and seasonal applications.


Hershey-ets single serving bag, 1 3/4 oz., 1961-1968

Hershey-ets single serving bag, 1 3/4 oz., 1961-1968


This was Hershey’s first attempt at a marketing a panned product.


Flash forward a couple decades.


In the 1970s, Hershey Chocolate developed a formula for sweetened peanut meal with the consistency of chocolate.  It became the basis for Reese’s Pieces, which were made using the same procedures and equipment as Hershey-Ets.


The new product was originally named PBs.  But PBs wasn’t a proper name and the product was soon rechristened Reese’s Pieces.


At that time, Hershey was building a new manufacturing plant in Stuart’s Draft, Virginia, and Hershey planned to manufacture Reese’s Pieces there, in addition to the manufacturing in Hershey.


Hershey Chocolate supported the introduction of Reese's Pieces with advertising and promotional coupons.  1980

Hershey Chocolate supported the introduction of Reese’s Pieces with advertising and promotional coupons. 1980


The product launch was successful.  Reese’s Pieces sales went up significantly, held a little bit and then started coming down, not at an alarming rate, but it was certainly a bit disturbing, particularly since the company was in the process of building additional manufacturing capability.


About that time, Hershey Chocolate  received a call from Universal Studios, and they said that Steven Spielberg was producing a movie called “E.T.,” and they had decided to use Reese’s Pieces and the candy would play a featured part in the picture.  Over the phone, Universal invited Hershey to cooperate by promoting the picture.


Jack Dowd, then Director, New Products Development, traveled to California to meet officials from Universal Studios.  The plot was sketched out, and Universal explained that this creature was lured into the house by Reese’s Pieces.  The vice president said to Jack that they had decided not to use M&Ms.  Trying to come up with an alternative candy, he had asked his son, “What would you use?”  And his son said, “Reese’s Pieces.”  The vice president said he had never heard of Reese’s Pieces until that moment.


Dowd thought the project looked like something worthwhile.  Dowd knew Reese’s Pieces needed some special promotion to save it.  He agreed that Hershey Chocolate would support the movie with about a million dollars’ worth of marketing.  Hershey would create consumer promotions, trade promotions, and displays, featuring “E.T.”  In return, Hershey Chocolate would have an exclusive in the confectionery field for promotion and advertising.


This was the first time Hershey Chocolate had agreed to partner with Hollywood in the promotion of a movie and its use of a Hershey product.


Jack Dowd, in his 1991 oral history interview, remembered:


So I came home and informed Earl Spangler (Hershey Chocolate president) and the staff that we were going to spend a million dollars on a movie that I couldn’t show them the script for, that was going to employ a little green creature from outer space, and I couldn’t show them–at that point it was still confidential–I couldn’t show them a picture of that either.  I hadn’t seen it either.  I didn’t know what it would look like.


Earl said, “Are you sure this is going to work?”


And I said, “Oh, sure.”  Because what else could I say?  If I said, “Oh, no,” then we’d have to cancel it and I’d already signed up for it. 


Reese's Pieces was E.T.'s favorite candy.  Promotional poster, 1982

Reese’s Pieces was E.T.’s favorite candy. Promotional poster, 1982


We were going to offer a tee-shirt that had a picture of E.T.  We wanted a picture, and they sent us a picture of E.T. and the little boy.  I proudly showed the picture at the staff meeting, and Earl [Spangler] said, “That is the ugliest creature I have ever seen in my whole life.”  There’s no answer to that.  You just sit quietly and let the eruption die down. 


There was a special screening of the movie in the Hershey Lodge theater shortly after it premiered in New York City. The theater was filled with employees and their families.


At the end, the screen went black and there was total silence.  Nobody seemed to want to get off the mountain; they wanted to stay up there.  And then there was enormous applause. 


So I ran out in the lobby to watch the faces of the people that came by.  Many of them were tear-stained.  And Earl, who is a very emotional man, came out and his eyes were quite moist, and I said, “Is he still ugly, Earl?”


And Earl said, “Ah, he’s beautiful.”  And that was one of the high spots of the whole performance.


The movie was an enormous hit.  The publicity was incredible.  And the demand was tremendous, and fortunately just at that time the Stuart’s Draft plant came on stream and we were able to meet the demand, and the sales were more, far more than we expected.


Read Jack Dowd’s complete story on the Archives’ website.