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Archive for February 13th, 2013

Hershey Chocolate Company: On the Road

Hershey Chocolate Company introduced the motor car to Lancaster, Pennsylvania with this Riker delivery car. 1900


In February, 1900, some months before the sale of the Lancaster Caramel Company, Milton Hershey brought the first automobile to Lancaster, and used it to advertise his product.  The arrival of the machine was announced in the Lancaster New Era, February, 13, 1900:


“The Hershey Chocolate Company will have the distinction of having introduced the automobile into Lancaster, and for business purposes, too.  One was received here this morning from the Riker Electric Vehicle Company, and it will be put in shape for operating tomorrow, and be used in the delivery service.  It will haul a load of about 2,000 pounds and has a storage battery with sufficient power to carry the machine 30 miles.”


            After running around Lancaster for a few days – and nights, because the young clerks liked to drive it after hours – it set off on a tour of the cities of Pennsylvania, visiting Allentown, Bethlehem, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Pottsville, and other centers.  With it was a crew of salesmen under F.W. Delori.  The “operator” was R.C. Orndorff of Baltimore.

            Reporters in the various cities through which it passed noted that it had won a $1,500 prize at New York’s recent Madison Square Gardens Automobile Show, that it cost $2000 (some said $2500), weighed 3,500 pounds, had four storage batteries (each weighing 300 pounds), and was equipped with electric lights, an electric bell, a brass “steering apparatus,” and brakes.

            Its top speed was nine miles an hour.  


Even though the car was such an attraction, the only image of the Riker electric motor car in the Archives’s collection is this print of a wood engraving, executed by J. J. Hensel, a Lancaster, PA engraver.  It would be wonderful to find an actual photograph of the vehicle somewhere, some day.