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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.






Looking for the Truth: Hershey’s Chewing Gum

You know how it goes.  An event occurs and time passes.  The people involved are no longer around.  The details of the event become hazy and faulty memories create new, false details about the how and why of the event. 

An archives is a wonderful resource for confirming the facts of an event and correcting the stories and myths that often grow up around a historic event.


Box label; Hershey's Chewing Gum.  ca.1916-1924

Box label; Hershey’s Chewing Gum. ca.1916-1924


Here is a fact:  Milton Hershey manufactured and marketed chewing gum from 1915 to 1924.  We know this because of records found in the Hershey Community Archives.  These records include financial statements, packaging samples, sales materials and oral histories with people directly involved with the manufacture of chewing gum.


There are lots of questions about Hershey’s chewing gum.  What was its name?  What flavors of chewing gum did Hershey produce?  Why did Milton Hershey want to manufacture chewing gum? Why did Hershey stop manufacturing chewing gum?


Hershey's "Easy Chew" chewing gum.  ca.1915-1917

Hershey’s “Easy Chew” chewing gum. ca.1915-1917


Some of these questions are easily answered, with the help of the Archives’ collections.  Manufacturing and sales files provide answers to the when and what of Hershey producing chewing gum. 


The ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions are more difficult.  For example, one popular story told regarding why Milton Hershey decided to manufacture chewing gum includes a cross-Atlantic crossing where Milton Hershey met William Wrigley, Jr.  According to the story, the two men took an instant dislike to each other and Milton Hershey returned with a burning desire to best Wrigley.  He first tried to do it by purchasing Philadelphia’s baseball team.  When that plan didn’t work out, he decided to compete with Wrigley by manufacturing chewing gum.


While this is a great story, a close examination of the story reveals some holes.  Hershey’s chewing gum was introduced in 1915.  Wrigley didn’t begin his ownership of the Chicago Cubs until 1916.  Plus there is no documentation placing Wrigley and Hershey on the same cross-Atlantic ship.


A more reliable source can be found in the Archives.  In 1954 Clayton Snavely was interviewed for a planned biography of Milton Hershey.  Clayton Snavely* began working for the Hershey Chocolate Company in 1911 as a salesman.   In January 1915, he was called to a meeting with Milton Hershey.   His oral history interview describes those initial meetings with Mr. Hershey and includes his memory of why Milton Hershey wanted to make chewing gum.


According to Snavely, Milton Hershey’s venture into chewing gum was inspired by a number of factors.  At the turn of the 20th century, chewing gum was growing in popularity following several developments in manufacturing equipment.


Rather than wanting to best William Wrigley, Jr.  Clayton Snavely related in his interview that Milton Hershey wanted to respond to the Beech Nut Company’s efforts to market chocolate and cocoa. 


            This was in January [1915].  As I previously mention, I spent a week-end with Mr. and Mrs. Hershey at the Dennis Hotel, Atlantic City [New Jersey].  And after breakfast Sunday morning, Mr. Hershey and I were walking down the boardwalk, and Wrigley, the chewing-gum people, had a large advertisement on the boardwalk of their product.

             He said, “Clayton, Beech Nut Gum has been a phenomenal success.  It has gone to their heads, and they think they’re goingto put the name Beech Nut on chocolate and put Hershey out of business.  Well, there’s only one way to meet fire.  It’s to fight it with fire.  I’m thinking about doing something in the chewing gum line.”


From this interview, it’s easy to understand how Wrigley got mixed up in the story, particularly, since Wrigley may be a better known brand.


To learn more about Hershey’s venture into chewing gum, click here.


*Clayton Snavely was a son of Frank Snavely (12/28/1854- (who was Milton Hershey’s mother’s nephew and Milton Hershey’s 1st cousin))

There’s more than one way to a consumer’s heart. . .


The Hershey Company did not incorporate media advertising for its products until the company was over 75 years old.  Even though Hershey Chocolate Company did not advertise in newspapers, magazines or on the radio, it made use of a variety of advertising techniques.  Milton Hershey made use of store windows, counters and posters in trains and trolleys.  His packaging also promoted his products.  Check out some of these examples of early Hershey slogans:


Beginning with the first Hershey Chocolate products, packaging carried advertising slogans such as “More Sustaining than Meat” and “A Sweet to Eat.”



Bar wrapper for Hershey's Milk Chocolate.  1903-1905

Bar wrapper for Hershey's Milk Chocolate. 1903-1905




 Later bar wrappers included advertisements for Hershey’s Cocoa.





Bar wrapper for Hershey's Milk Chocolate, ca.1912-1926

Bar wrapper for Hershey's Milk Chocolate bar. ca. 1912-1926






 During the Hershey Chocolate Company’s early years, it inserted specially sized postcards in standard size Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars.  These postcards featured scenes from the chocolate factory , dairy farms that supplied much of the milk used to produce milk chocolate and also images of the community’s recreational facilities.  Other Hershey Chocolate “bar cards” can been seen on the Hershey Community Archives website.






Hershey's Milk Chocolate bar cards such as this were included with standard size milk chocolate bars between 1909-1918.

Postcards such as this were included with standard size Hershey's Milk Chocolate bars between 1909 and 1918.






Salesmen created massive displays of product to attract attention and advertise special promotions. 





Sidewalk candy display created by a Hershey Chocolate salesman for Leftoff's Retail Store, Bronx, New York.  1938

Sidewalk candy display created by a Hershey Chocolate salesman for Leftoff's Retail Store, Bronx, New York. 1938





Hershey Chocolate Company made effective use of displays in store windows, counters and aisles:





Hershey Chocolate Corporation store window display.  ca.1930-1932

Hershey Chocolate Corporation store window display, ca.1930-1932









Hershey Chocolate in-store display.  ca.1945-1950

Hershey Chocolate in-store display. ca.1945-1950





In smaller stores, special counter displays were used to promote Hershey’s products.





Hershey Chocolate store counter display.  ca.1920-1925

Hershey Chocolate store counter display. ca.1920-1925






For several decades these methods were effective ways to market the United States “great American chocolate bar.”  However, beginning in the 1960s, these methods were no longer enough and Hershey Chocolate began losing market share.   In response to growing competition, Hershey Foods Corporation launched its first media advertising campaign in 1970. 

Hershey’s syrup in cans



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.

Bursting with Almonds: Hershey’s 50-50 bar


Hershey's 50-50 Almond bar; 1926

Hershey's 50-50 Almond bar; 1926


The popularity of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar with Almonds led the Hershey Chocolate Company to develop a new product with even more almonds.  Introduced in 1921, the 50-50 (sometimes Fifty-Fifty) Almond bar was considered a a “Fancy Good” along with Bon Bons and 1/2 and 1 pound boxed Kisses wrapped in  Hershey maroon paper-covered boxes.  A few years later in 1925 a 1/2 pound 50-50 Almond (Item #10 1/2) was added to the product list.  The success of this product led to Hershey discontinuing the 1 pound version.


While Bon Bons and 50-50 Almond bars were initially marketed by salesmen throughout the United States lower sales led to the company’s decision to limit distribution to Hershey.  A September 28, 1933 memo to Salesmen read:


Fancy box packages “Items Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 are manufactured primarily for use in the town of Hershey.  You are not to solicit business on those numbers from our jobbing distributors; but we are not adverse to shipping one pound and one-half pound boxes of Kisses, (Items Nos. 2 and 3) to retail distributors.




Customer Sales Brochure, ca.1954

Customer Sales Brochure, ca.1954




While limiting distribtion to Hershey, the 50-50 product line expanded in 1931 with Item #32, a 2-pound Baked Almond Milk Chocolate Bar.  The package was actually 2 one-pound bars that were molded into break-apart 5 bar units and packed in a Hershey maroon box.  In addition to being marketed in Hershey, it was also sold to select corporate customers who used it as holiday gifts.


Hershey’s 50-50 Almond bar was produced until April 1943 when it and most other Hershey products were discontinued in response to World War II imposed rationing of metal foil, almonds and sugar.  Production resumed in 1947.  Hershey was not consistent in the what name it used for this product.  At various times the 50-50 bar was marketed as Hershey’s Baked Almond Milk Chocolate, Hershey’s Toasted Almond Milk Chocolate and simply Hershey’s Almond Milk Chocolate.



Customer Sales Brochure, ca.1954

Customer Sales Brochure, ca.1954



When production resumed in 1947 Hershey also introduced Item #33, a 14 ounce bar.  Hershey sought to expand its distribution of both bars beginning in 1953 when it began marketing the bars as a mail order product directing its marketing efforts toward the Automatic Canteen wholesaler and other special suppliers.  Both products were produced and distributed until they were replaced with the Golden Almond bar in 1977.