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Archive for the ‘Factory’ Category

HersheyArchives@30-20 Eckenroth Journals: Working for Hershey Chocolate during the 1930s and 1940s

Daily journals are kept as a personal record of the activities in an individual’s life. Although never intended for a public audience, many journals provide us with a better understanding of what effect world-wide and local events had on an individual.

 

Raphael Eckenroth’s journals detail his work experience in the Hershey Chocolate Factory during the Great Depression and World War II. Born in 1908, Eckenroth began working for the Hershey Chocolate Corporation in 1928. Perhaps to accurately record his income during a period of financial uncertainty, or possibly due to a meticulous personality, Eckenroth recorded his daily wages and work assignments in the factory over a period of ten years.

 

Raphael Eckenroth's journal documents his cumulative earnings for 1941.

Raphael Eckenroth’s journal documents his cumulative earnings for 1941.

The first column records the week of the year.  The second column is the number of hours worked in the Carver room or other factory departments.  The third column is total hours worked for the week.  And the final two columns record his weekly income.

 

An example of a "Carver" press. ca.1950-1960

An example of a “Carver” press. ca.1950-1960

 

In the chocolate factory, Eckenroth worked primarily in the “Carver room” where “Carver” brand cocoa butter presses extracted cocoa butter from roasted cocoa beans. On occasion, he recorded how many hours each shift worked and the hours of operation for the “old” and “new” Carvers.  These entries offer insight into the factory’s production schedule and the increase in hours and output during the war.

 

“All old carver presses started again to press and are operating three 8 hour shifts.  The [new] carvers are operating two 7 hour shifts today.”  (February 24, 1942)

 

There is little information about the personal lives of the Eckenroth family in the journals.  Deaths, major illnesses, and social activities are recorded, but Eckenroth rarely comments on the events he chronicles.  He does however record personal reflections on the 1937 labor strike.  The journals offer a timeline of events and Eckenroth’s feelings regarding unionization are evident.

 

Approximately 500 Hershey Chocolate employees went on strike on April 2, 1937.  The “sit-down” strike end on April 7, when local farmers and non-striking workers forcibly remove the strikers.

Approximately 500 Hershey Chocolate employees went on strike on April 2, 1937. The “sit-down” strike end on April 7, when local farmers and non-striking workers forcibly remove the strikers.

 

In February 1937, the CIO began holding labor organizational meetings in Palmyra and negotiating an agreement with Hershey Chocolate Corporation.  In March, an agreement between the company and the United Chocolate Workers of America (CIO) recognizing the union was reached, however not all areas of concern were addressed.

 

A wounded and bloody striker is helped through the crowd on the last day of the strike.

A wounded and bloody striker is helped through the crowd on the last day of the strike.

 

On April 2, at 11:00 AM, a “sit-down” strike was called and approximately 500 employees began occupying the factory.  The strike impacted not only the non-striking employees but also the local dairy farmers who supplied the factory with milk each day.  On April 7, after the strikers refused to vacate the building, non-striking workers and farmers forcibly removed the strikers from the factory.  Strikers were forced to run a gauntlet and emerged beaten and bloody.  A few weeks later the National Labor Relations Board conducted an election and polled employees as to whether they wished to be represented by the United Chocolate Workers of America.  The employees overwhelmingly rejected the union.

 

“Had election today.  C.I.O. had 786.  Loyal 1542.  Was happy day for Hershey.  Spent the night drinking and being merry.”  (April 23, 1937)

 

Raphael Eckenroth worked for the Hershey Chocolate Corporation for 45 years until his retirement.  His journals, although spanning a brief ten years, broaden our understanding of the Great Depression and World War II’s impact on the Hershey community and businesses.  They also provide one man’s perspective on his relationship with Hershey Chocolate during one of the most violent periods in the community’s history.

 

#HersheyArchives@30

 

HersheyArchives@30-19 Serving the Nation: Hershey and the Ration D bar

When the United States Army needed a food product that would serve as a survival ration for soldiers in combat situations, they turned to the Hershey Chocolate Corporation.

 

 

Wrapper: "U.S. Army Emergency Ration." 12/1939

Wrapper: “U.S. Army Emergency Ration.” 12/1939

 

In the spring of 1937, Captain Paul Logan, from the office of U.S. Army Quartermaster General, met with William Murrie, President, Hershey Chocolate Corporation and Sam Hinkle, Chief Chemist. The Army wanted to develop an emergency ration bar.

 

Milton Hershey was very supportive of the request and instructed Sam Hinkle to get started right away.

 

While developing the formula for the survival ration bar was relatively simple, manufacturing the bars presented greater challenges.

 

Unlike Hershey’s confectionery products where warm chocolate pours easily into moulds, the non-confectionery chocolate paste for the Field Ration D bar, as it was formally known, was much thicker and did not flow at any temperature. A new method of moulding would need to be engineered.

 

For the first batch of Ration D bars, Hershey Chocolate Corporation planned to produce 90,000 bars for the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps. First, the factory needed to construct enough moulds for the project. Next, the specially formulated Ration D chocolate paste was produced and each four-ounce portion was weighed, kneaded, and pressed into the mould by hand. It took the chocolate factory three weeks to produce the first run of 90,000 bars.

 

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The challenges to deliver this product were not over yet.

 

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The United States Army had detailed requirements for the wrapping and packaging of this product. From the bar wrapper to the boxes to the shipping cartons, Hershey had to follow very specific guidelines as to the information printed on the wrappers and cartons. As the letter notes, Hershey Chocolate provided 42,000 bars packed in wooden crates, specifically as the Army Quartermaster had specified, and 48,000 packed in fiberboard cartons. In spite of the Army’s specific instructions, Hinkle noted that the company would not pack the bars in rectangular tins since they did not have the necessary equipment.

 

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Between 1937 and 1941, small contracts were awarded to Hershey for additional orders of the Ration D bar. As war became more imminent, and Hershey realized that production would need to increase, the factory developed an automated method of moulding.

 

Ration D wrapped bar and shipping carton. 1942

Ration D wrapped bar and shipping carton. 1942

 

In 1939, Hershey was able to produce 100,000 units per day.  By the end of 1945, production lines on three floors of the plant were producing approximately 24 million units per week.  It has been estimated that between 1940 and 1945, over three billion ration units were produced and distributed to military personnel around the world.

 

#HersheyArchives@30

HersheyArchives@30-3 “I am going to make chocolate.”

 

Milton Hershey ordered four pieces of equipment from the J.M. Lehmann Company's New York office. January 11, 1894

Milton Hershey ordered four pieces of equipment from the J.M. Lehmann Company’s New York office. January 11, 1894

 

Milton Hershey made his fortune with caramels but he made history with chocolate. In 1893, while attending the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Hershey told Frank Snavely, “Caramels are a fad but chocolate is permanent. I am going to make chocolate.”

 

Milton Hershey was a reader of newspapers and an astute businessman. The increasing demand for chocolate in the United States would not have escaped his notice. In 1883, the United States imported 9,000,000 pounds of cocoa beans; in 1893, 24,000,000 pounds.

 

After examining the J. M. Lehmann exhibit of chocolate making machinery at Chicago’s 1893 Columbian Exposition, Hershey made up his mind to invest in chocolate. After the exposition closed, two pieces of Lehmann machinery from the exhibit were shipped to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This document, an order for additional chocolate making machinery, details Hershey’s subsequent purchases and signifies the beginning of Hershey manufacturing chocolate in 1894.

 

The principal machines required to manufacture chocolate are roasters, hullers, mills to crush the beans, melangeurs (chocolate grinding machine) to mix the chocolate paste and sugar, cocoa butter presses to separate cocoa butter from cocoa solids, and steel rollers to refine the chocolate. Having acquired the melangeur and steel roller from the exhibit at the exposition, this purchase of equipment fulfilled Hershey’s needs. By 1895, the Hershey Chocolate Company was producing cocoa and semi-sweet or dark chocolate for retail sale.

 

Catalog; page 4. Image of a J.M. Lehmann Roasting Machine; Roaster; Catalog; J.M. Lehmann Dresden-Loebtau, 1902 edition

Catalog; page 4. Image of a J.M. Lehmann Roasting Machine; Roaster; Catalog; J.M. Lehmann Dresden-Loebtau, 1902 edition

 

When Hershey decided to make chocolate, he committed to the idea fully. Comparing the invoice found at the top of this story to a slightly newer (1902) J. M. Lehmann catalog indicates Hershey purchased machinery capable of producing large quantities of chocolate. The purchased roaster had a capacity of 9oo pounds. The local newspaper reported that Hershey’s melangeur was the second-largest in the United States, second only to one used by Walter Baker & Company. From the start, Hershey intended to transform and dominate the chocolate market in the United States.

Building Hershey: C.Emlen Urban

 

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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.

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.

What a way to make a living! Working at the Hershey Chocolate factory

The wrapping department poses in front of Hershey Chocolate factory offices.  1915

The wrapping department poses in front of Hershey Chocolate factory offices. 1915

The original Hershey Chocolate factory closed this spring after 107 years of service. Chocolate making is still in Hershey as operations were moved down the street to the newly expanded West Hershey plant. The original factory and its iconic smokestacks will remain part of the Hershey landscape. Over the next several years the building will be repurposed.

During its life as a chocolate factory, the Hershey Chocolate factory defined the community, providing steady work for residents of the town and surrounding area while adding a sweet, chocolatey scent to the air.

Who were these workers and what was it like to work at the original chocolate factory? The Archives recently created a case exhibit in The Hershey Story lobby to showcase some of the archival materials in the collection that provide insight into worker lives. In particular the Archive’s oral history and photograph collections help us to better understand what working in the factory was like.

Women with gingham aprons label and pack cocoa tins.  ca.1925-1935

Women with gingham aprons label and pack cocoa tins. ca.1925-1935

I was new.  I was scared of getting lost.  I didn’t know the way around, you know.  You had to go through two long corridors, five flights of steps, and you went in there.  Those days we had aprons, gingham aprons, and white caps we wore.  You went in and went to your machine.  You had to be there.  When your machine started up, there was no waiting.  You’d better be there, you know.  One time I was reprimanded.  You only were reprimanded once.  You didn’t want to be reprimanded again. (Interview with Mary Bonawitz, 1996)

Employee "stick" almonds to make sure the almonds are completely coated in chocolate.  1950

Employee "stick" almonds to make sure the almonds are completely coated in chocolate. 1950

When you stuck almonds, you got bored.  It was hot and you had to fight sleep sometimes.  You start in work at ten minutes of six, coming up to your department, you know.  You had to be there.  And it was so hot.  And in one position for five hours, there was a tendency to get drowsy.  And if you wanted to talk to your partner, it was all lip reading.  But we caught on very well.  We had fun. (Interview with Mary Bonawitz, 1996)

To learn more about Hershey Chocolate workers and what it was like to work in the chocolate factory, stop by The Hershey Story and check out our exhibit case.  To learn more about the Archives’ photograph and oral history collections, visit the Archives’ website.

Touring the Hershey chocolate factory

Hershey Chocolate Factory visitors department; Tour Director Lloyd Shoap and hostesses.  ca.1936-1940

Hershey Chocolate Factory visitors department; Tour Director Lloyd Shoap and hostesses. ca.1936-1940

 

Almost as soon as the Hershey Chocolate Factory began operating in 1905, visitors wanted to tour the facility to see how Hershey’s milk chocolate was made.  The Company began offering formal tours as early as 1910.  In 1915 the Hershey Visitors Bureau opened in the Cocoa House as an information center for Hershey’s rapidly growing tourist market.  The Visitors Bureau provided information about Hershey’s attractions and provided Admission cards to visitors wishing to tour the factory.  Opening in July 1915, the Bureau distributed over 10,000 factory tour admission cards during its first three months.

 

In 1928 the factory began keeping formal statistics about factory tours.  A Factory tour was a popular part of a visit to Hershey.  Whether you were coming to Hershey to visit the Park, swim at the pool, enjoy the flowers at the Hershey Gardens or to shop at the Department Store, many people made a factory tour part of their visit to Hershey.

 

Visitors receive free cup of cocoa at the end of the chocolate factory tour.  ca.1950-1960

Visitors receive free cup of cocoa at the end of the chocolate factory tour. ca.1950-1960

 

 

Factory tours were not just for visitors.  Many people have fond memories of growing up in Hershey and taking the tour just to get the chocolate provided to visitors at the end of the tour.  Frank Simione shared these fond memories in his 1993 oral history interview:

 

We used to go through the chocolate plant, through the main entrance on Chocolate Avenue.  As we entered the main entrance there, they would give you a small cup of chocolate drink, and when you came back [from the tour], they would give you a pack with five bars, which says “Five Famous Hershey Bars.”  We used to go over there to get the chocolate drink and get those five little famous bars.  They were very little, in a small pack, and sometimes we used to go two and three times in a day, just to receive the chocolate drinks and the chocolate bars.  Now, this was done practically every day.

 

By 1970 almost one million people were touring the factory each year.  The factory had never been designed to handle so many people.  So many visitors were causing traffic jams downtown, overwhelming the building capacity and creating risks for product safety.  Hershey Foods Corporation’s solution was to build Hershey’s Chocolate World, a corporate visitor center that could welcome the millions of people visiting Hershey each year and would teach how Hershey’s milk chocolate is made in a fun and informative way.  The last public Chocolate factory tour was held June 29, 1973 and Hershey’s Chocolate World opened the next day.

Surveying Hershey

Last January (2011) the Archives received a collection of 226 field survey books created over the course of 70 years as Hershey engineering crews surveyed newly acquired land and recorded plans for bridges, roads, trolley lines, buildings and residential lots.  Beginning with the first entry, dated June 22, 1902, the books document the development of the Hershey community as Milton Hershey planned and built his model town.

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Within the books’ pages, you can trace the route of Hershey’s trolley system and see through whose property the trolley lines passed, see the footprint of the new chocolate factory and how it was placed on the designated land, follow the evolution of Hershey Park, the development of Hershey’s residential streets and lots, and see how the town grew and evolved.

 

 

 

The Archives exhibit case in The Hershey Story lobby highlights materials from its collections.

The Archives exhibit case in The Hershey Story lobby highlights materials from its collections.

 

 

 

In the Archives’ changing exhibit case located in the lobby of The Hershey Story, a new exhibit features four of the field survey books and connects the information in the books with other archival records to tell a story of Hershey’s past.  Here’s an example from the exhibit:

 

 

 

Drawing of new Hershey Chocolate Company smokestack, 1924.  Field Survey book #33, p. 142

Drawing of new Hershey Chocolate Company smokestack, 1924. Field Survey book #33, p. 142

 

 

 

Hershey Chocolate factory expanded frequently to meet the growing demand for Hershey’s milk chocolate.  An article in the Hershey Press noted the chocolate factory’s need for new power. 

 

Hershey Chocolate Company, plan for new smokestack, 5/19/1924

Hershey Chocolate Company, plan for new smokestack. 5/19/1924

 

 

In 1924 the engineering department drew up plans for the new powerplant including plans for a new smokestack.  Later that year the powerhouse was enlarged with five new boilers and a new yellow-brick smokestack to meet increased demands for power to run the factory.   Like Hershey Chocolate Company’s other smokestacks, plans called for “HERSHEY” to be spelled out in darker bricks.

If you are in the neighborhood, stop by The Hershey Story and check out the Archives exhibit case to see more examples from the Field Survey Book collection.  It will be up through March 2012.

Hershey’s syrup in cans

 

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In 1956 Hershey Chocolate Corporation began manufacturing its own tins for Hershey’s syrup. Here an employee monitors the progress of a can labeler. ca.1960-1970

 

Milton Hershey believed in being as self-sufficient as possible.  He built his own power plant to provide electricity to run his factory and his town.  He established sugar mills in Cuba to assure that he would have enough sugar for his milk chocolate bars and set up a print shop in the factory to print his own labels.  Hershey Chocolate Company even  manufactured its own metal containers for Hershey’s Cocoa.  However, when Hershey began producing chocolate syrup, the company decided to purchase the cylindrical cans.  It wasn’t until 1956 that Hershey began manufacturing their own syrup cans.  Howard Phillippy, a plant engineer, led the effort to install the needed machinery.  In his oral history interview, he explained how Hershey Chocolate factory began manufacuring its own syrup cans:

 I well remember the way we got into making the syrup can was, at that time . . .I was in the design area.  Whereas we never bought anything without it going through the formal purchasing department, I was pretty free, and if there was anything engineering-wise, production equipment-wise, the sales reps would invariably be referred to me.  So one of these sales representatives working for Baldwin-Lima- Hamilton can-making machinery company had stopped in because they knew that Hershey was making their cocoa cans.  Hershey was making cocoa cans before my time.  We did buy improved machinery during my tenure there, but they were making cocoa cans before my time, for years back. 

 Now then, this can machinery representative, knowing that Hershey made their own cocoa cans, came around.  He just wanted to see was there anything that he could offer from the standpoint of equipment improvement or did we need any help and that sort of thing.  It was while he was there, he learned that we are buying our syrup cans, and he asked, “Gee,” he said, “why wouldn’t you make your own?”

 I said, “I don’t know.  The subject never came up, not in my time, anyhow.  I don’t know really why we aren’t.”

 He said, “Well, how many cans do you make a year?”

 Well, we were making–let me say it was 70 million cans by that time.  He said, “If you make 20 million cans a year, it would pay you to make your own.” 

 And I just said, “Well, we have no idea.  How many people would it take to operate?  What kind of machinery do we need?”

 He said, “I’ll give you a list of the machinery you would need and approximately what kind of attendants you’d need.” 

 He supplied me with that, and on that basis, I went to–Lou Smith was then my superior.  He was VP of engineering.  I went to Lou and we, together, saw the great possibilities in this thing. . .Earl Lehman was the comptroller of Hershey Chocolate at that time.  I remember taking the figures of the cost of the machinery, the cost of the whole project up to him, and he ran it through the cost process, and I know he said, “My goodness, we can’t afford not to make these.”  His figures that he came out with showed that we would realize the cost of the equipment in a year and a half.  He was saying, “Gee, how long is it going to be to get delivery of the machinery?”  It was like nine months or more.  As I recall, going into the business, buying all the machinery, was less than $1 million at that time.  [Laughter]  It was about 1956.  The cost of all of that machinery, for two lines of manufacturing of the entire syrup can, was less than $1 million.  The cost savings would be realized in a year and a half. 

Hershey continued to make its own syrup cans until 1979 when the factory began packaging Hershey’s syrup in 24 ounce plastic bottles.

Celebrating Milton Hershey’s Birthday

 

1937 was a tumultuous year in Hershey.

 

Hershey Chocolate factory strikers are beaten as they exit the factory ending Hershey's first sit-down strike. 4/7/1937

Hershey Chocolate strikers are beaten as they exit the factory, ending Hershey's first sit-down strike. 4/7/1937

In January the CIO, a national trade union, organized Hershey Chocolate factory workers, establishing the plant’s first labor union. In April, the Hershey factory workers held Pennsylvania’s first sit-down strike following a breakdown in labor contract negotiations. Though short lived, the strike bitterly divided the town.

 

Employees honor Milton Hershey at his 80th birthday.  9/13/1937

Employees and residents honor Milton Hershey at his 80th birthday. 9/13/1937

 

As a means of healing some of the pain resulting from the strike, workers organized a 80th birthday celebration for Milton Hershey. Over 8000 people attended the party held at the Hershey Sports Arena on Monday evening, September 13. All the community’s bands performed, including both high schools, the American Legion Drum and Bugle Corps and the Community Theatre Orchestra. The speakers’ platform was surrounded by flowers, most of which were gifts from community churches and organizations.

 

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Milton Hershey wearing his 80th birthday ring. 1941

 

The employees presented Milton Hershey with a yellow-gold ring with 18 diamonds encircling a design featuring the Chocolate Corporation’s trademark, the baby in a cocoa pod, and a maroon silk lounging robe. The evening festivities included a vaudeville show of top-line entertainment from New York City, refreshments and dancing in the Hershey Park Ballroom.