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Archive for July, 2015

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.




The challenges to deliver this product were not over yet.




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.




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@30-18 Only Hershey’s Kisses are Kisses

Consumers associate a trademark with their experiences with the service or product the trademark represents. Milton Hershey prided himself on manufacturing quality products believing quality was “the best advertising in the world.” Hershey Chocolate Company trademarks and trade dress were consistent across the product line so a Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar was easily identifiable as being from the same company as Hershey’s Cocoa. “Hershey’s” meant quality to consumers and it has always been important to the company to maintain the positive association that Milton Hershey established.


Early Trademark Action




In 1905, the Societe Generale Suisse De Chocolats, manufacturers of Peter’s Chocolate brought suit against Hershey Chocolate Company arguing that Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar wrappers were too similar to those of Peter’s and caused consumer confusion.  Milton Hershey was ordered to change his design and subsequently adopted the now iconic maroon and silver wrapper.  Although he lost the case, Peter’s legal action introduced Mr. Hershey to the value of intellectual property and brand protection.  When his next product, Hershey’s Kisses, was introduced in 1907, Hershey diligently surveyed the marketplace for products too similar to his own.


Hershey Chocolate Company sold Hershey's Kisses by weight.  The pail was a unique way of packing bulk Kisses. ca1920

Hershey Chocolate Company sold Hershey’s Kisses by weight. The pail was a unique way of packing bulk Kisses. ca1920


Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Kisses were initially available for purchase in bulk and later in 10 cent boxes.  From 1907 until 1921, Kisses that were sold in bulk (meaning sold either by a specified number of Kisses or by weight) were identified by their display container and with nearby point-of-purchase placards.  A square piece of tissue-paper, printed with the company trademark, placed underneath the chocolate and wrapped inside the foil wrapper was the only other means of identifying the product as Hershey’s.  Since the buyer could not see that identification until after the chocolate was unwrapped, it encouraged many imitations.


One of Hershey's many competitors, Klein Chocolate Company marketed their conical pieces of chocolate as "Silver Bells." ca1930

One of Hershey’s many competitors, Klein Chocolate Company marketed their conical pieces of chocolate as “Silver Bells.” ca1930


To counteract the many competitors, Hershey Chocolate Company developed wrapping machinery that could insert a visual product marker, the plume or tag, in 1921.  Hershey began advertising its new wrapping technology and asking consumers to look for the identification tag.



In-store poster promoting Hershey’s Kisses with its trademark plume. 1921



An Employee becomes a Competitor


In 1910, Milton Hershey hired James B. Leithiser, the husband of one of his cousins, to serve as general manager of all the non-chocolate businesses—what would later be consolidated as Hershey Estates.  Leithiser was responsible for overseeing the majority of the town’s building initiatives and the community’s development over the next ten years.


As Milton Hershey began to expand his operations in Cuba, he asked Leithiser to move to Cuba and oversee its operations.  Rather than move, in 1921 Leithiser resigned from his position and relocated to Berks County in Pennsylvania to open a confectionery business, Fleetwood Chocolate Company.


Rumors that former officials of the Hershey chocolate company who in the last few months have severed their connections with the chocolate king were about to organize a new company in Berks county have been confirmed… J.B. Leithiser….who grew up with the Hershey plant as one of the executive managers is named as president of the Fleetwood organization. [Lebanon Daily News, 01/06/1922]


A year later Fleetwood was in direct competition with Hershey’s.  One item in particular caught the attention of William F.R. Murrie, president of Hershey Chocolate Company.


Fleetwood Milk Chocolate Kisses box. 1923

Fleetwood Milk Chocolate Kisses box. 1923


Protecting the Brand


When Hershey Chocolate Company began including a plume with each wrapped Hershey’s Kiss, the company also filed a federal trademark registration, registering the mark “Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Kisses” in 1923.  Fleetwood’s Milk Chocolate Kisses prompted Hershey to consider the value of the term “Kisses” in general.  Hershey Chocolate Company president William F.R. Murrie brought the Fleetwood product to the attention of Mr. Hershey’s attorney, John E. Snyder.  Murrie thought it was imperative to protect the Kisses brand.  “It seems to me that we should not surrender what rights we may have in the use of the words, ‘Kisses,’ or ‘Milk Chocolate Kisses.’”



Correspondence  from Hershey Chocolate Company President William F.R. Murrie to John E. Snyder, Mr. Hershey's attorney. 3/17/1923

Correspondence from Hershey Chocolate Company President William F.R. Murrie to John E. Snyder, Mr. Hershey’s attorney. 3/17/1923


Additional federal trademark registrations protecting the name, and unique conical shape of Kisses, both wrapped and unwrapped, were later obtained.  Today, The Hershey Company continues to proactively protect the Kisses brand.  One reason is to avoid a generic or “genericized” trademark.  Trademarks can become “genericized” when the associated product or service acquires substantial market dominance or “mind space” and the trademark becomes a term for the product or service itself instead of a brand.  Genericized trademarks include: aspirin; escalator; trampoline; and laundromat.  A company risks losing its trademark and associated rights if a trademark becomes genericized and it also enables competitors to use the trademark.


Hershey Chocolate Company executives recognized the value of the Kisses brand early in the product’s history.  Early and continued brand protection ensures that Kisses chocolates and confections are still only associated with Hershey.