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Article 1 (July 2020): Hershey started by selling his candy from a basket
July 30, 2020Like many people who were ultimately successful, Milton Hershey faced hardship and failures early in life. His formal education ended at age 12. He was first apprenticed to a printer, which he hated, then to a candy maker, where he found his calling. Later, using money from relatives, he opened candy shops and wholesale operations in Philadelphia and New York, but both failed.
Lacking further backing, he rented a room in a warehouse and experimented with making rich, creamy caramels. He first sold them by hand to people on the street, advanced to a push cart, then to a small factory. When a British buyer placed a huge order, he was on his way.
At the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, Hershey found chocolate. A German chocolatier had set up a small factory where fair-goers could watch the process. When the fair closed, Hershey bought
the factory. He would make chocolate the favorite candy in North America.
He perfected his product partly by luring chocolate makers from other countries and even by sending spies to chocolate factories to see whether there was something they could learn. After years of experimenting, he developed a milk chocolate that could be stored for months without spoiling.
Sales soared, topping $7.7 million by 1913. Hershey biographer Michael D'Antonio tells how Hershey visited the Cadbury factory in England. Cadbury had established an entire community around it, and Hershey decided to do something similar in Pennsylvania.
He paid his workers well, built public facilities, and encouraged home ownership. He built a model school for orphan boys supported by a foundation that held most of the company stock.
In Hershey, PA, he built a playground, a zoo, and a medical clinic. After his death, his foundation built a medical school.
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