About Hershey, PA
Quite simply, Hershey, PA, is the town that was built on chocolate. What started out as a way to make better lives for his employees, Milton S. Hershey ended up building a community now dubbed “The Sweetest Place on Earth.” Taking advantage of the many productive dairy farms in Southeastern Pennsylvania, Hershey established the world’s first modern chocolate factory in 1905 and consequently established a “model town” for the employees and their families.
Hershey provided a building known as the Cocoa House as the temporary site of a bank, post office, general store and boarding house all for the use of the factory employees. Employees who wished to buy their own homes could do so through the Hershey Improvement Company—complete with strict rules for homebuilders to comply with Hershey’s vision. In 1906, the town name of Hershey was chosen and the Hershey Post Office was established.
Because of his interest in children, Hershey established the Hershey Industrial School for orphaned boys in 1909 and today the school is known as the Milton Hershey School.
Hershey was not only an avid philanthropist but also a visionary. During the days of the Great Depression of the 1930s, Hershey was determined to keep the town residents employed. Hershey launched a massive building program that not only provided needed buildings but hundreds of jobs, all the while keeping his factory workers employed in a business that continued to be profitable. Some of the buildings completed during this period included the Hershey Community Building, The Hotel Hershey, the Hershey Industrial School and the Hershey Sports Arena.
In 1935, Hershey established The M.S. Hershey Foundation, a small, private charitable foundation to provide educational and cultural opportunities for local residents. The Foundation today supports four entities: The Hershey Story, Hershey Gardens, the Hershey Theatre and the Hershey Community Archives.
During World War II Hershey developed a special chocolate bar that would not melt so that soldiers in warmer climates could still have a taste of home.
Milton Hershey died shortly after his 88th birthday in October of 1945 leaving a thriving town, family-centered institutions and an incomparable legacy.