Interviews and Bios

    Milton Hershey: From failed businesses to billions

    13 Nov 1923, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA --- Milton Hershey founded Hershey Chocolate as well as built Hershey, Pennsylvania for his employees. He became a prominent philanthropists and gave his fortune to helping those in need. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

    Milton Hershey was born in 1857 to a German and Swiss family, raised in a rural farmland area.

    As a young man he did what most do, and went out in the world to learn. One of his first apprenticeships was with a printers, which he unfortunately was fired from. He then went on to follow his passion and began a 4 year apprenticeship in Lancaster as a candy maker.

    After his time there, he decided he was ready to start a candy business. So he did…but as we all know by now, not everything works the first time around, and the business failed. He didn’t give up, he took a leap and moved to Denver where he learnt how to cook caramels from fresh milk from a confectioner.

    He then took another risk, by moving to New York City, giving candy making a second try.

    Guess what? He failed, again.

    However he never fell out of love with candy, and focused his efforts on caramels in Lancaster instead.

    For the first time, his venture had succeeded, he finally built the Lancaster Caramel Company, and was shipping sweet products across the US and Europe!

    Years later in 1893, Milton attended the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, it was there he fell in love with chocolate! He then began creating chocolate coatings for caramels, soon after he founded the Hershey Chocolate Company.

    The work didn’t stop there, he spent years perfecting the combination of milk, cocoa and sugar to create on of the world’s most favourite chocolates of all time.

    In 1900, he created the FIRST milk chocolate bar, which was the classic Hershey’s chocolate bar. In 1907 he produced Hershey’s Kisses, followed by Hershey’s Chocolate Bar with Almonds.

    He then turned Lancaster into a chocolate town! He even created a trolley system that connected the town to other cities nearby, allowing employees to travel and transport chocolate quicker. Hershey’s grew so much that Milton then created a large Chocolate Factory where his employees could live and it was also a place to grow cocoa beans. In 1905 a Cocoa house was built which became a town centre that housed a bank, stores, post office and a printing plant and even a newsroom for the Hershey’s Press.

    It doesn’t stop there, Milton then created the famous tourist attraction, Hershey Park was opened in 1907. It was originally created for his workers to enjoy and have fun in spare time. The park is still around to this day has over 110 acres of rides and attractions. In his time he also bought a Community Centre, a Mansion, a Hotel and a Sports Arena.


    Hotel Hershey, Founded in 1933 by Milton Hershey

    Milton’s hard work and persistence left him with a £100 million fortune at the time of his death in 1945 (Which as you can imagine held masses of value back then!).

    The crazy thing is although he passed way over 50 years ago, his company is now earning more than 5.3 billion revenue a year!!!


    He took RISKS, he wasn’t glued to one place. He constantly re-located and moved to learn and try new things.

    He learnt even more about his PASSION. He was constantly learning whether it was from a trade show or a local confectioner and that gave him a unique set of skills.

    He FAILED and tried again. Milton had two failed businesses under his belt until he started again, how many of us would keep going after failing?

    He wasn’t afraid to CHANGE, he changed his ideas, and refined them until they were right.

    He thought ahead, he was an innovator and created the FIRST chocolate bar.

    He looked after those around him’s wellbeing, we could say he practiced GRATITUDE for his employees through the creation of places to stay, theme parks to use out of work etc.

    After doing this, he became a force not to be reckoned with! I hope you have learnt some nuggets and can see some similarities between this entrepreneur and the others I have mentioned so far!







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