When eating a bar of Hershey's chocolate, the last thing one probably thinks about is the man whose last name is printed across its wrapper. What a wasted moment.
The story of Milton Snavely Hershey is Pennsylvanian to its very core. Born in 1857 to a family of affluent Mennonites in the Harrisburg area, he spent a childhood on the go due to his father's job as a salesman. Consequently, his level of formal education only reached the fourth grade. However, he received extensive training in entrepreneurship while accompanying his father on business trips up and down the Eastern Seaboard, but he always called Central Pennsylvania his home and moved back in his twenties to start a company of his own.
He soon was a hugely successful caramel confectioner with a secret recipe that kept his customers coming back time and again, and from which he gained an unshakable reputation for superior candy making. In 1900, he sold his confectionary and did a very curious thing: he bought a thousand-plus acre farm outside of Lancaster, and his business associates soon learned that he did it to perfect his formula for milk chocolate, until then considered a luxury Swiss import, and Hershey's development of a comparatively cheap American version was big news.
By 1903, Hershey had struck cocoa's equivalent of gold. He built his own factory on the farm, and it quickly grew into a plant, while the farm became a town for his workers who flocked in for the readily available employment opportunities. Determined to expand the market for the solely upper-class product to the masses, Hershey solidified his reputation with blue collar Americans by turning his boomtown into a model community. Hershey built comfortable homes, good public schools, an affordable public transportation infrastructure, and centers for safe recreational activities. Unsurprisingly, the town soon became known as Hershey.