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Archive for the ‘Hershey Chocolate’ Category

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.

Building Hershey: C.Emlen Urban

 

C_Emlen_Urban

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

 

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.

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.

 

 

A key to the past: Hershey Chocolate Factory architectural plans

Aerial view of Hershey Chocolate Factory.  ca.1920-1925

Aerial view of Hershey Chocolate Factory. ca.1920-1925

 

This week’s blog post was provided by Archives Assistant, Julia Morrow.

 

The original Hershey Chocolate Factory has dominated the streetscape of Chocolate Avenue in Hershey, PA ever since ground was broken in 1903.  The factory is not a single structure, but a complex of buildings that were constructed over several decades.  Once Milton S. Hershey started building, he didn’t stop; new buildings and renovations were added to the factory as Hershey Chocolate Company expanded.  Hershey’s original chocolate factory closed in 2012 and is currently undergoing partial demolition.

 

The buildings may have not withstood the test of time, but their blueprints have been saved.  Factory blueprints were transferred to the Hershey Community Archives in 2013. These architectural plans trace the evolution and growth of the Hershey Chocolate Factory compound over the last hundred years.

 

Architect Urban's design plan for a new Hershey chocolate factory. ca.1903

Architect Urban’s plan for a new Hershey chocolate factory. ca.1903

 

Nationally recognized architect, C. Emlen Urban, was the original architect for the Hershey Chocolate Factory.  Working with Milton S. Hershey on the development of Hershey, PA from 1903 into the 1920s, C. Emlen Urban is responsible for many of Hershey’s most beloved buildings.

 

Twenty four of Urban’s earliest blueprints of the factory, drawn in 1903, remain.  Many of these blueprints are detailed floor plans which provide important information including the functional layout of the factory.  For example, the “Cocoa Bean Roasting Hulling” room was located next to the “Cocoa Press” room.  By studying the floor plans, you can see how Milton S. Hershey organized the production process of his famous Milk Chocolate.

 

While these plans provide extremely detailed information as to the layout and construction of the factory, they can be appreciated on another level.  Each individual plan was drafted by hand, resulting in a hand-drawn work of art.  Today, architectural plans are created on computers, using drafting software.

 

Urban’s factory plans also included elevations of the factory facades.  This collection provides one of the earliest views of how the Hershey Chocolate Factory would look from the outside.  One particular plan shows the southern and western facades of the Hershey Chocolate Factory’s Cocoa Powder, Sugar Mill, and Mixing building.

 

Hershey Chocolate Factory, western elevation. Original design by C. Emlen Urban. ca.1903

 

Hershey Chocolate factory, birdseye view.  ca.1909

Hershey Chocolate factory, birdseye view. ca.1909

 

Compare the images of the factory elevations with the postcard view of the original factory.   While some of the architectural elements were incorporated into actual construction, such as the cupolas and the window design, the original factory as envisioned by Emlen Urban, was not built as he initially imagined the building.

 

This original plan also does not include a key that would provide a drawing scale and other architectural information.  It is probable that C. Emlen Urban created this plan to convey his vision for the factory buildings to Milton Hershey.  The beautiful detail work on this blueprint, and the numerous other factory blueprints in the collection ensure that although the physical buildings may be gone, the original Hershey Chocolate Factory will live on.

Great things sometimes start small: H.B. Reese and the Reese Candy Company

Advertisement; Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, 1963

Advertisement; Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, 1963

 

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are one of the United States best loved candies.  First introduced around 1928, the PB cups were not a stand-alone treat, but were marketed as part of an assortment of candies that you could buy by the weight.

They were named for their creator, Harry Burnett Reese.  Unlike Milton Hershey, it was not obvious that Harry Reese was destined to become a confectioner.  His background included stints as a farmer, dairy farmer, fish hatchery manager and factory worker.  All these varied jobs resulted from Reese’s efforts to support his rapidly growing family.  The jobs took him from York County to Ditchley, Virginia back to York County and then to New Freedom, Pennsylvania and finally to Hershey to work as a dairy farmer for Milton Hershey.  None of these jobs prepared him for his future success.

But Harry Reese was impressed with Milton Hershey and the success Mr. Hershey had achieved with the Hershey Chocolate Company.  Needing to support his family, Reese started making candy in his kitchen at night and marketing it around town and wherever he thought there might be customers.  The first years were challenging and offered little promise of his future success.

The Archives’ oral history collections contains interviews with a number of H.B. Reese’s children as well as workers.  His oldest daughter, Mary Elizabeth Reese Pearson, shared her memories of her father’s first efforts at candy making.  Born in 1901, Mary was old enough to vividly remember those early years.

Interviewer:  Right.  Tell me about the time frame when he started to make the hard candy.

Pearson:

Oh.  Well, that was in 1919, the very first thing.  He met an old man by the name of Mr. Bender up in Harrisburg at a market, where, you know, people bring in candies and things.  And Mr. Bender gave him the recipe for these hard candies and he started making them, shipping them out by the barrel.  It wasn’t long that he found his business wasn’t succeeding because the candy was sticking.  It wasn’t holding up, see.  That failed.

Interviewer: What did he try next?

Pearson:

I think maybe he tried different things, but the main–the one big thing he was doing when I was at Temple University in 1920 to ’22 was a bar called–he called a Lizzy Bar.  It was a chocolate bar, and I don’t know who gave him the recipe for the chocolate, but it started to sugar, see.  So that bar went off the market.

Interviewer: It was named after you?

Pearson:

Uh-huh.  It was named after me.  Because my roommate in those days called me Lizzy Bar.  [Laughter]  And he’d send me boxes of this candy.  It was wrapped in a very beige-looking background with brown printing.

Then I think after that, most of his–oh.  He was making another coconut caramel bar that was very popular for a while.  Some man had given him the recipe for this coconut caramel, and the coconut was fresh coconuts–grated!  He didn’t have a factory then; he just had a kitchen.  So Poppy would go around three o’clock in the morning and start opening coconuts, fresh coconuts, and had them all peeled and ground, ready to make this coconut caramel candy.  In the summertime, he would shape it in bars, see, and roll it in coconut, and take a whole carload [read “automobile”] of it over to Mount Gretna, where the government had a lot of soldiers over there, spending the summer over there at Mount Gretna.  So then in the wintertime, he would cover it with chocolate, see, and sell it.  So that was his third thing that was keeping him that he wasn’t completely out of business, see.  He was still doing something.

So then I don’t know what year he started making all the different sort of candies and absolutely every center of that candy was delicious.  He had dates that he–  It was like a sausage grinder thing.  The dates would go in there and they’d come out, and something would cut them off in little pieces.  I was coating candies in those days, and if we were coating dates, they’d all be little cut-up pieces, and [we would] lay it in the Hershey’s chocolate, see.  He always used Mr. Hershey’s coating, see.

And then that candy was put into these little tiny round cups and went out as assorted.  So one day we’d make coated dates, the next day we’d make–he learned how to make a wonderful fondant, see.  Delicious fondant.  That’s how he made all these different assorted candies, see.    I can’t tell you how many were in the box, but the box–it all went out wholesale, five-pound box for $1.29, to mostly big stores like Bon Tons and stores in Lancaster, and they would sell it out by the quarter and half-pound.

The business had a lot of ups and downs until H.B. Reese decided to concentrate on making peanut butter cups starting about 1941.  You can read the whole story here on the Archive’s website.  Just make sure you have some Reese’s peanut butter cups handy.  You’re going to want some!

Hershey’s Syrup: Chocolate goodness in a tin

It wasn’t until 1926 that Hershey Chocolate Company began manufacturing and marketing chocolate syrup. When Hershey’s Syrup was first introduced, it was marketed to commercial users (i.e. bakers, soda fountains, restaurants).  Commercial chocolate syrup was marketed in two strengths: single and double.  Single strength was promoted for use in soda fountain pumps for making carbonated beverages.  Double strength was used for use as a topping and in milk drinks.

 

Hershey's Syrup label, 18 oz. 1933

Hershey’s Syrup label, 18 oz. 1933

 

In late 1928, salesmen’s requests led the company to package and market Hershey’s single strength chocolate syrup for home use.  It was packaged in two sizes: 5 ½ oz. and 18 oz. metal tins.  In 1934 the 18 oz. size was reduced to 16 oz and marketed as a 1 pound tin.  Labels incorporated the iconic Hershey block letter design.

 

Hershey's Syrup recipe pamphlet, 1936

Hershey’s Syrup recipe pamphlet, 1936

 

To help introduce the new product to consumers, Hershey Chocolate hired a public relations/marketing firm, N.W. Ayer & Son, to help with the launch.  Hershey also hired a noted home economist, Caroline King, to develop 12 recipes using syrup.  The recipes and syrup samples were distributed to “home institutes” and magazines, including Good Housekeeping Delineator, People’s Home Journal, McCall’s Magazine, Women’s Home Companion, Liberty and Conde Nast Publications.  Initial results were positive and publications printed recipes and articles about Hershey’s new product.

Here’s a page of recipes from one of those early recipe pamphlets:

Recipes using Hershey's Syrup, ca.1928-1933

Recipes using Hershey’s Syrup, ca.1928-1933

Looking Back: Hershey’s First Chocolate Products

 

Early Hershey Chocolate Company invoice.  February 9, 1899

Early Hershey Chocolate Company invoice. February 9, 1899

 

In February 1894, Hershey Chocolate Company was established after Milton Hershey purchased some chocolate making machinery he had seen exhibited at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago.  Mr. Hershey was excited by the challenge of learning to make a different confectionery product:  chocolate.  Before long, he was making semi-sweet chocolate for use with his caramel products.  He also began marketing a line of chocolate products known as “sweet chocolate novelties.”

 

Hershey was years away from developing his formula and process for making milk chocolate, the confectionery treat that would make his future fortune.  Unlike the Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars, that are a part of our American psyche, Hershey’s chocolate products had imaginative names and  were wrapped in colorful, fanciful packaging.  They were moulded into cigars, cigarettes, sticks, batons, wafers and other fanciful shapes.

 

Hershey Chocolate Chrysanthemums. ca.1895-1909

Hershey Chocolate Chrysanthemums. ca.1895-1909

 

 

 

Even after Hershey’s milk chocolate was introduced and became America’s chocolate bar, Hershey continued to produce and market these products until February 1917.

 

I think I would buy these products just for the packaging.  I hope you enjoy this glimpse at Hershey’s earliest products.

 

Things old are new again: Hershey’s Modern Office Building

Hershey Chocolate Corporation Modern Office Building, 1935

Hershey Chocolate Corporation Modern Office Building, 1935

 

People who regularly drive through Hershey on Rt. 422 (Chocolate Avenue) have noticed all the construction and reconstruction taking place at the original chocolate factory.  Included in this project is construction work being done to the building at 19 East Chocolate Avenue, a structure also known as the Windowless or Modern Office Building.  Completed in 1935, this building served as the corporate headquarters for Hershey Chocolate for over forty years.  Today, this building is the heart of The Hershey Company’s operational offices.

 

When the building was constructed, much of the world was struggling under the financial stress of the Great Depression. Jobs were lost as businesses retrenched.  In Hershey, there was a different experience.  Milton Hershey responded to the economic upheaval with a construction program.  During the 1930s, many of Hershey’s monumental structures were built, including Hotel Hershey, Milton Hershey School’s Catherine Hall (then the Junior-Senior High School), the Community Building (14E), Hershey Sports Arena and the Modern Office Building for the Hershey Chocolate Corporation.

 

Milton Hershey’s great interest in innovation and experimentation shaped the design of this new office building.

 

Original plans for the building called for a conventional design with windows and awnings.  As the foundation was being dug, Milton Hershey became intrigued with the idea of a windowless facility.  Such a design would dramatically increase the efficiency of the heating and cooling systems.  At Mr. Hershey’s direction, architect/builder D. Paul Witmer, quickly drew up new plans and construction continued without any delay.

 

Under construction:  Hershey's Modern Office Building.  1935

Under construction: Hershey’s Modern Office Building. 1935

 

The building was constructed of locally quarried limestone.  Construction began in the fall of 1934 and was completed in December 1935.

 

The building was a real testament to Hershey skills and ingenuity.  The building was designed and built by the Hershey Lumber Company (Paul Witmer serving as its manager).  Certain interior building products were installed by the Hershey Department Store.

 

There was quite a bit of excitement regarding the opening of the new office building.  Hershey Chocolate Corporation hosted a public open house on December 28, 1935.  Almost 14,000 people attended during the day long event.  The Hotel Hershey Highlights noted that the open house commenced at 9:00 a.m. and doors didn’t close until 9:00 p.m.

 

Printed for the building's open house, the booklet described many of the bulding's unique features.  1935

Printed for the building’s open house, the booklet described many of the bulding’s unique features. 1935

 

Visitors received a booklet, printed by the chocolate factory print shop, describing the building’s special features.  In particular, the booklet described the building’s interior plan, its atmosphere:

“Conditioned air, dust free,”

lighting, flooring, ceilings, walls:
 

“The room devoted to calculating machines and other noisy equipment has its walls of the same special acoustic plaster as is used on the lobby ceiling,”

 

Hershey Chocolate Corporation; Payroll record keeping department.  ca.1935-1940

Hershey Chocolate Corporation; Payroll record keeping department. ca.1935-1940

 

furniture, and telephone system:

 

“communicating facilities are provided between all office and the plant by dial telephones” and messenger service: “special small box type elevators connect the Receiving Department with the Mailing Desk.  A pneumatic tube system connects the Traffic Department with the Shipping and Stock Rooms of the plant for the rapid, safe delivery of all orders.”

 

Today the building is in the midst of major renovations to make it a functional and modern (once again) office space for The Hershey Company.

 

 

Celebrating Christmas

 

Each year Hershey Chocolate Corporation decorated its office building with lights for th holiday season.  ca.1963

Each year Hershey Chocolate Corporation decorated its office building with lights for th holiday season. ca.1963

 

Later this week, Hershey will gather in front of the Community Building on (14E) Chocolate Avenue to mark the beginning of the holiday season with the lighting of the community Christmas tree.

 

This is tradition stretches back to 1915. That year the Hershey’s Mother’s Club was inspired to put up the community’s first Christmas tree.  The idea for having a community Christmas tree may have been inspired by a community tree first erected in New York City’s Madison Square in 1913.

 

The Hershey Press announced the erection of a community Christmas tree in its 12/13/1915 issue.

The Hershey Press announced the erection of a community Christmas tree in its 12/13/1915 issue.

 

 The article noted that the lighting ceremony would be held that evening at 7 p.m. and would include carols sung by the school children and a time for singing by the attendees. 

 

Hershey Press, 12/30/1915

Hershey Press, 12/30/1915

 

As the next week’s issue of the Hershey Press noted, the event was highly successful.  Over 200 attended, a significant number when you remember that the entire town’s population was only 1500 people.

 

With that simple, last minute plan to erect a community Christmas tree, a long-lived tradition was born.  While at times the tradition was interrupted or altered because of world wars, each Christmas holiday season Hershey gathers together to celebrate the season.  To learn more, visit the Hershey Community Archives.

 

1915-12-30

 Text of the 12/23/1915 Hershey Press article:

HERSHEY COMMUNITY CHRISTMAS TREE
Will Be Located at Chocolate and Cocoa Avenues and Will Be Beautifully Illuminated—-

Exercises Thursday Evening: at 7 O’clock—Committee

Hershey is to have a community Christmas tree! 
At the meeting last week the Mothers’ Club took up the suggestion of Miss Margaret Langworthy and appointed the president, Mrs. Ezra F. Hershey, to put the idea into execution. There was not much time for the work, but Mrs. Hershey secured the co-operation of James B. Leithiser, and he promptly enlisted the facilities of the Hershey Improvement Company. James Millard was asked to secure the tree, and as this issue of the Press is being printed the tree is being carried to the chief comer, of the town and installed for the great holiday. It is a superb cedar, and it will be wonderfully illuminated by many electric lights placed under the direction of Mr. Hull.

Everybody is invited to join in the affair. The exercises will be held Thursday evening at 7 o’clock, and the whole town, with invited guests from the surrounding country will be present. No long program will be attempted. There will be a short speech and then Christmas carols by the school
children and choruses by the assembled men, women and children. It will be a genuine old-fashioned time and it is expected to be the main event of the Christmastide.
The Mothers’ Club is doing great work for the children.

Happiness is a Mouthful of HERSHEY-ETS

Hershey-Ets' shape changed to circular "lentils" in 1960.

Hershey-Ets’ shape changed to circular “lentils” in 1960.

 

During Milton Hershey’s life, he encouraged new product development, often leading the way with a wide variety of experiments. Many of these ideas did not result in new products, but Mr. Hershey created an environment supportive of new ideas and products.

 

After Milton Hershey died in 1945  all of Hershey struggled a bit to find its way in the following years.

 

After World War II ended, the factory began the process of re-establishing its normal, peace-time production. The  laboratory resumed working on new product development.

 

Panning Hershey-Ets. ca.1960

Panning Hershey-Ets. ca.1960

 

For several years the lab had been experimenting with panning chocolate to create a product that could successfully compete with “M&Ms.”  Panning is the process of coatingg a piece of chocolate with a candy shell.

 

To distinguish Hershey Chocolate’s products, the lab worked with panning chocolate chips.  When the chips were put into the panner, the flat ends of the chips bonded together to create football shaped pieces of chocolate surrounded by a thin candy shell.  At first Hershey-Ets were coated with a clear sugar shell.

 

Plain chocolate  Hershey-Ets were first introduced in 1954.

Plain chocolate Hershey-Ets were first introduced in 1954.

 

Hershey-Ets were first introduced June 24, 1954 to a limited regional market.  National distribution began September 10, 1954.

 

Brightly colored Hershey-Ets were introduced in 1956.

Brightly colored Hershey-Ets were introduced in 1956.

 

Beginning in April 1956 Hershey Chocolate began producing Hershey-Ets in various colors and still in the football shape. Packaging was also changed.  The box was discontinued and Hershey-Ets were packaged in heat-sealed bags of light blue with an image of the product as part of the label design.

 

While the football shaped Hershey-Ets helped to distinguish the product from its main competitor, the product had one drawback.  The shell that was formed around the  football-shaped chocolates hardened into a hard-to-bite shell after a few months.

 

 

Hershey-Ets shelf talkers such as this piece promoted the products from the grocery shelf. ca.1973

Hershey-Ets shelf talkers such as this piece promoted the products from the grocery shelf. ca.1973

 

In September 1960 the shape was changed to a round lentil, similar to M&M’s.

 

Hershey-Ets were removed from the standard product line in the mid-1970s.  Since then the  product has been produced seasonally (primarily Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter) and sold in specialty packaging.  Hershey-Ets are also sold in company outlets such as Hershey’s Chocolate World, and the Hershey stores in Times Square, New York City and Chicago.