Sadness in Chocolate town

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Milton S. Hershey, c. 1905

Hershey, Pennsylvania, or “Chocolatetown, USA,” KissLampis a town known all over the world. It’s a magical town with chocolate kiss-shaped streetlights, and streets named Chocolate and Cocoa Avenue, a town literally built on chocolate. The town exists because founder Milton S. Hershey chose the spot near his birthplace for his chocolate empire – first a factory at the heart of the town, and then many amenities for the factory workers. In many ways it was a classic company town.

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Hershey Chocolate factory, circa 1925

Hershey first owned a successful caramel company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania about 30 miles away. Inspired by a German chocolate maker’s exhibit at the Chicago World’s Fair, he saw potential in chocolate for the masses. He would transform a luxury product into one that anyone could afford. Hershey purchased about 30 acres of farmland in southern Pennsylvania and after a period of experimentation, came up with a formula for milk chocolate. He produced his first chocolate bar in 1900. In 1903 the Hershey Chocolate Company began construction on what would one day be the largest chocolate manufacturing facility in the world.

I grew up visiting my grandmother and my aunt and uncle and cousins in Hershey. Family members still live in a house on Chocolate Avenue (and run their own candy company!). On many visits, when the wind was blowing just right, the amazing smell of chocolate wafted in the air. In the summertime we’d go to Hersheypark, an amusement park founded originally by Hershey for his employees.

Hershey_Pennsylvania_1976My family has stories of an encounter or two with Mr. Hershey himself, and various family members worked in some of the factories over the years. At Christmas we’d enjoy the large holiday lights on the factory’s exterior walls. And, the shrubbery spelling “Hershey Cocoa” on the factory’s green lawn was an iconic symbol of the town, along with the factory smokestacks.

The public could take tours of the factory until 1973 when the tours were no longer offered, and a faux-tour ride called Chocolate World took their place. I can just barely remember going through the factory as a child… truly a Willy Wonka-esque experience. Chocolate World was more like the Small World ride at Disney and just couldn’t match the authenticity of a tour through the center of chocolate making.

-b2d6705a57223370Sadly, the factory has just been torn down, production moved to newer facilities in the area. I have not closely followed the sad saga of the factory’s demise. Officials say they tried to find a developer to work with the factory site, but failed. The company is renovating the oldest part of the factory on the west end, dating from about 1915, into state-of-the-art office space. Even so, it seems that the heart has been ripped from the town. Thankfully the iconic smoke stacks have been saved, along with the “Hershey Cocoa” bushes, but sadly no investors wanted the factory. I wish some investor would have had the vision of  adaptive reuse. If Boston can adapt a prison to a luxury hotel, couldn’t Hershey save a factory? Loft apartments? A new hotel? I realize that there must be return on investment.

A recent drive down Chocolate Avenue made me sad. Clearly, in my opinion, this is a loss for the town.

Recommended reading – Hershey:Milton S. Hershey’s Extraordinary Life of Wealth, Empire and Utopian Dreams

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106 Responses to Sadness in Chocolate town

  1. I went to MHS. Chocolate really did change my life.

    • Nicole says:

      Bernard, that comment gave me chills. I’ve always loved Milton Hershey’s vision in starting MHS, and I love hearing what his legacy has done to help people on their path to success. 🙂

  2. Karen L. Demmy says:

    I have lived for 56 years about 20 miles from here….so very many happy memories. Suffice it to say, we’ll never be able to drive thru Hershey with our windows down and smell the chocolate air together anymore! How very sad.

  3. Tina says:

    So very sad. My life was changed when I attended MHS. I am shocked that it could not be saved, reutilized for something constructive.

  4. Mike Shultz says:

    I went to MHS as well, and have a fond memory of waiting for the bus outside of the factory when I was young, and trying to coax a pigeon from one of the doorways. The security guards were watching me and wondered what I was doing. One of the guards came out and actually caught the bird for me and when he handed it to me it flew away! I was devastated… The guard actually brought me into the security room where all the guards gave me a factory tour via the security cameras, and we shared in some chocolate sample pieces that they were testing (it turned out the samples were the early Kit Kat bars!). Sad to see this iconic building gone…

  5. Hershey made its way into my german novel “The Anarchist of Chicago” – I love the place, ist so unique – the sweetest town in every sense

  6. Tina says:

    I also was saddened when I drove through Hershey not so long ago. What has been what made Hershey famous being torn down. It appalled me. So many options thrown right down the drain. It makes me wonder what Mr. Hershey would say if he could speak to us now. First his amusement park was converted from a no pay family park to a we can’t get enough of your money pay park. The dream of Mr. Hershey has definitely been flushed right down the toilet. I remember my dad use to drive truck for Hershey foods and back in the day was allowed to travel with him in his truck. When going to pick up the trailer was allowed to go inside the facility and was always amazed at the smell of chocolate. It was definitely a heavenlysmell, I miss that smell. The town has changed so much. Its sad that our world has cashed in for the bottom dollar over morals and family. Mr. Hershey let me apologize that Hershey is no longer the vision that you had for this town. I am sorry that that so many people would rather have the big money over family values.

  7. Cindy Beck says:

    i am glad i got to tour the actual factory and sorry it was torn down. it will seem weird not seeing that familiar facade approaching chocolatetown.

  8. I remember well our elementary school class field trip through the original factory, probably sometime in the ’60’s. The faux tour never lived up to the original, even with all the technology. A sad day in the life of Hershey, for sure.

  9. elissa says:

    As a life long local, architect, and have had many family work st the factory, it is saddening and a very different experience driving down chocolate avenue. But, we should all be realistic. I building is only designed to last 100 years and with the vibrations of the heavy machinery for all those years, the building was too expensive to reuse. Codes these days are more stringent than ever and no one was interested in in forking out a ridiculous extra amount to reuse the faculty. I think we all wish thete was another way. But there really wasn’t.

    • Tim says:

      Thanks for your comment – I’m sure there were limited options. Not sure if they tried to save the facade.

      • Nancy says:

        Yes, I know, It is a sad time for all of us,but hopefully what they put in in it’s palce will blend into the rest of the part of the building that is still standing.

    • Truebet says:

      I live near York, Pa. There are more than a couple of old factory buildings that have with stood time and are now converted into beautiful condo apartments. The walls are as sturdy as the day the factories were built. Codes have been met. Not a big issue. The former band members of the group Live are right now converting another such place into a once again useful structure. It can be done and is being done here.

      • Jennae says:

        The factories in York are a very different beast from the one in Hershey. They’re smaller, narrower, completely brick structures which could be easily gutted and redone into apartments which all have windows. The Hershey factory was massive, interior sections of the building would have needed to be removed to provide windows to any potential hotel or condo development. Plus the building was steel construction, it lacks the brick facades which make loft apartments so desirable. York (though since I’m from there it pains me to call it one) is a much bigger city than Hershey. Hershey is a tiny suburb town of Harrisburg, a collapsing city. We don’t have the population to support a lot of the things the area could be used for in a larger city, like condos and a shopping center. I’ve seen it argued that a residential area could have been used to cater to doctors who work at the med center, but that’s a very limited group. In no way was anyone going to get their investment back from a refit of the existing structure. We’re far more likely to find a use for the space along chocolate ave in new construction, where a builder would be free to do as they please.

    • Whayen says:

      The buidlings would have lasted thousands of years – they were built at a time when a significant safety factor was used. Steel & concrete had safety factors and the “design” had a safety factor. The Kahn system of Engineering (look it up)- had a safety factor of 10. Tearing the buidlings down has more to do with ego and money.

  10. I lived in Hershey for a year when I was around 13. Going to the factory every Saturday afternoon with my four younger siblings is a memory I’ll always have. We also went to the park with a dollar…and spent a couple of hours riding ride for a nickel or dime each!! And AH! The smell of chocolate on humid days!! I’ll miss the factory!

  11. Char James says:

    I took a tour of the original factory in the ’50’s…we were allowed to look down into huge vats of chocolate being mixed. The smell was heavenly, and I remember thinking I’d like to jump into the vat. At the end of the tour, we were given a chocolate bar, and we exited out a back door and down some “fire escape-like” stairs onto the sidewalk.

  12. Lynn Troup says:

    I was born and raised in Hershey and still live 10 minutes away. My Dad retired from the Hershey Factory after 35 years of employment. I always enjoyed smelling the Cocoa on his clothes when he came out of the factory. Unfortunately I am too young to have gotten to tour the factory. My Dad told me they stopped the tours because of people littering and not listening. I am sure there were other reasons too. My Dad is gone now and so is the factory, that is just so sad! What next the street lights???

  13. Nancy says:

    Yes, I did as a kid our schools would bring us to the factory and we got to take the tour, and get chocolate to eat at the end of the tour.I agree that the factory was the real experience , and that Chocolate World is like a Disney ride,but with all the tight regulations that food manufactories have to adhere to these days. So I can see why they had to discontinue the tours.

  14. Jan says:

    I did not live in Hershey but several of my relatives worked at the Hershey Chocolate Factory many years ago. I too loved the smell of that chocolate when driving past the factory and I loved the architecture of the factory. Today was the first I learned of the factory’s demise. Does anyone have photos of the new factory?

  15. brenda says:

    I, too, am sad as the chocolate factory is torn down.

    On the practical side, parts of the buildings were not sound structures any more–i was told that some floors were like walking on a mattress from years of steam, heat and water.

    On the business side, modern technologies required a different floor layout in a modern factory.

    On the historical side, I will miss the mystic, colors and architectural details of the old factory. I feel the same about the “Hershey” buildings that were torn down in the 1960’s & 70’s such as the tea house, ballroom and the drugstore.

    My father said every generation has to make their changes. Some are good, some are not. Destroying the historic architecture (60’s & 70’s) and discouraging tourists to not walk in downtown Hershey (80’s & 90’s) were not good. Building the new Museum and renovating the Hershey press building (2000’s to present) with great restaurants are good signs that this new generation may be working towards a good solution for future charm and historical charm.

  16. Tom Zinn says:

    I have lived in Hershey area all my life (48 yrs) and still feel so blessed to live here. Hershey is a town in transition. Many successful companies that started in the same manner as Hershey Chocolate Company, no longer exist. I am sure Hershey Co. could have been a very tempting takeover target for many convectionary companies except for one fact, The Hershey Trust, (started to support the boys school) owns a majority of the voting shares. Milton’s and Catherine’s inability to have children and generousity to orphan children is the reason The Hershey Company is an independent company. The Primary mission of the Hershey Trust to guard the resources for the benefit of the Milton Hershey School and underprivledged children who receive a top notch education. I do believe the Hershey Trust does have a secondary concern to keep the memory and ideals of Milton Hershey Alive. The Trust has been a good citizen to the community. As an accountant, I do believe it would be nearly impossible to utilize such an old building in a manner to be useful and profitable. It appears the Hershey Trust is taking the time to recreate the nostagia of the Town to celebrate Milton Hershey’s legacy. The town renovated the Press Building which is the corporate office of Hershey Entertainment. It created the Hershey Story Museum. In my opinion, the trust should recreate the “Cocoa Hotel” on part of the space where the factory with an old “soda fountain/diner/pharmacy” in the hotel. I do believe we have many impatient people who want the change now. To the Hershey Trust, what ever is done, let it be honoring to the legacy of Milton Hershey! Thank you!

    • Joe Mehler says:

      The trust was responsible for the job loss of hundreds of people, the move of production to Mexico and other things that make me sure that Milton Hershey is spinning in his grave. There is a reason that the commonwealth looked into the activity of the trust.

  17. Ann Snyder Roadarmel says:

    As a child, I journeyed from Elysburg, PA with my father about one time each year when he attended a Frigidaire convention and I toured the factory and visited the park. I always took a friend and we were treated at the end of the tour with a cup of hot chocolate or chocolate milk and a candy bar. It was the highlight of our summer each year. I hate to think that the factory is gone. We, too, got to look down into the huge vats of chocolate and we saw the Hershey bars and Hershey Kisses being made. It was wonderful. I am sad.

  18. Scott says:

    I use to work in security at the factory in 2012-2013 and I got to walk through the factory a few times even though a lot was already shipped out and so it didn’t look like the original state it still was one of the best experiences of my life to walk through and see the things that were still leftover just thinking about all the people that walked that long hallway and just thinking about how much history was there it was an amazing experience and every time I drive by it now and see the whole building gone its sad but at least I got to experience it and get to walk through the history before it was just taken away like it meant nothing

  19. Tracey daub says:

    Well eveyone that woked there would’ve been happy with the money they made this would’ve never happen. I don’t feel sorry for the people thats not working there any more

    • Pamela K Hermany says:

      NO— If Hershey Foods Would Have Put some Of The Millions Back In To The Plant It Would Still Be Standing And As Fare As Our Pay We Did Not Make Even Close To The Money That The (CEO”S) And We Are The Reason They Live In There There BIG HOMES AND THERE CHILDREN GO TOPRIVATE SCHOOLS AND IF YOU WORKED HERE YOU WOULD EXPECT NO LESS AFTERALL We Are Made To Work7 Days A week And Give Up Are —
      Family Time And Thay Are At Home With There Familys And We
      Are Filling There Pockets And We Also Have Bin Made To Work Meny Of Are Holidays And There A Gen We Are Not With Are familys And Are Pay Was Never An Issue

  20. Kathie says:

    I have lived in Lebanon my entire life……….61yrs…….and remember as a child, taking our weekly Sunday drive up to Hershey park. The smell of chocolate and seeing the factory where our Hershey bars were made was always a thrill. It is sad that time has passed but I realize the new times call for changes. But I still wonder why Hershey could not have saved the factory for other uses. Just saying.

  21. Ellen Hansen says:

    I was one of the first 50 girls enrolled in the Milton Hershey School. I will never forget getting to have a tour of the real factory as part of the graduation process. Everything has changed so much both in the school and in the chocolate company. At least they won’t be allowed to sell it thanks to the orphan trust! But, what a sad day it is to see this and it should have been used somehow for something else. The school itself has the resources to have made it into some kind of useful place, ie apartments for the seniors. Too late now I suppose.

  22. Chris says:

    I live in Hershey. They tore down the plant to make a strip mall. The town hardly smells like chocolate anymore. The Chocolate World rise has singing cows. It’s all gotten to commercial for me. The only reason they make chocolate in Hershey anymore is because of the outrage at the jobs being outsourced to Mexico.

  23. I am proud to have filled my dream, of being able to work at the Hershey Factory before this happened. I would spend my break times, just exploring the diff levels and departments of the factory. It was soo amazing!! Cannot properly be put into words. I too, am saddened at this loss, It is as if losing a good friend.

  24. mike miller says:

    Sadness? Things change and have always changed. Everyone in this area should be proud that Hershey has managed to hold onto the old and adapt with the new. The new museum, the Giant Center, while still restoring the Arena. Lived in the area my whole life and have heard oldtimers yapping my whole life, about how things ought to be. It always is the same thing. Look backwards. Keep things the same. Guess what? That’s called PARALYZED.
    That the factory is open, people still have jobs and the fact that there even is a HersheyPark today is nothing short of a miracle just by itself. Seems everyone has a better idea when it comes to a community, until a decision has to be made. Hershey has had at least 2 complete plans to revamp the center of town and each time, its been stopped. That brilliant thinking, (never change) killed the post office, the drugstore and basically took out the center of town.
    In my opinion, Hershey has done very well to adapt and hold to the old, while updating to the new and this most recent change is all part of life.

  25. Marianne Hamilton says:

    I worked for a Hershey owned candy factory and was given the opportunity to tour the original factory with one of the managers at the time. As a child we went every year to the park and I can remember the excitement on seeing the factory as you entered the town. How sad to know it”s gone now

  26. Mickey Kit says:

    Are there any companies operating out of century-old facilities?

  27. Virginia Bachman says:

    Wow! What a shocker! None of our PA relatives warned us about this (but thanks to my brother-in-law for passing this along). In November, 1957, my husband and I, as newly weds, moved into 46 E. Chocolate Ave., directly across the street from the Hershey Chocolate factory. My mother-in-law arranged this! We rented an apartment from Dr. William H. Lodge, who had his osteopathic office beneath us in the beautiful old colonial home he owned. His own living quarters were next to us on the second floor, and the Clarks — a young family with two daughters — lived on the other side of us.

    It seemed dreamy, spending the first nine months of our married life with the aroma of chocolate all around us. In the 1990s, we drove through town and found that Dr. Lodge’s home had disappeared, replaced by an attractive brick office building that had none of the romance of the original residence that had been there.

    We are about to become great-grandparents in a few weeks, so I guess we can expect to continue seeing our old haunts fade away! But we can always enjoy the memories.

    Virginia Bachman (Mrs. Jerald G. Bachman)

  28. I think it’s important to note that time does march on. I would be willing to bet that Mr Hershey would be quite pleased to see how his little town has become known around the world. I think he would be absolutely amazed at how the amusement park has grown, not to mention the success of his hockey team, and the fact that his company could still move into a state of the art facility even in these difficult economic time when most other companies are struggling to survive…..Hershey thrives.

    • I think not my friend, Mr. Hershey was a real peoples kind of person he truly cared about his town and everyone in it. He was a true visionary and he also knew what it took to keep people happy and make them more productive employees. He would have been the first one to stop the HERSHEY FOOD CORPERATION board of directors from lining there own pockets … and you can take that to the bank !!!

  29. J says:

    I was born and raised Hershey. My grandfather started the marketing department at Hershey Foods in the 70’s (back when HERSHEY FOODS was a company with values) I hate to say that I am grateful he passed in 01, way before the company’s demise, because this would have been devastated him. This town was built by and for it’s workers, what’s happening here is tragic. Where is the Hershey that Mr. Hershey built? The cocoa inn? The ballroom? The pool at the park? The huge, beautiful homes on Chocolate Ave? now The Chocolate Factory….all staples in town for decades, all less then 100 years old and all absolutely ‘unable to be restored’ or used for anything else. Seen a chocolate bar lately? “DISTRIBUTED by The Hershey Company, Hershey, PA” — it used to say “MADE BY The Hershey Company IN Hershey, PA” They regret to inform you that this new shitty, waxy chocolate (far from the REAL MILK CHOCOLATE anyone born before 95 remembers) was made by some poor underpaid Mexican in MEXICO. I knew there was a serious problem in 2007 (I think it was), when one day I drove down Chocolate Ave, and for the first time in 18 years there were no workers crossing the street at the corner of Chocolate and Homestead at 3pm on a Monday. This truly is tragic.

  30. Pat says:

    I love Hershey…the Amusement Park, shopping and the tour. I think the tour of the factory was so much better then the Chocolate World. True its more like “It’s A Small World” now. Going through Hershey and smelling the chocolate and seeing the Hershey kiss lights are always fun. I thought I heard years ago that production of the Hershey bar, etc. was moving to Mexico. Is any part of the production in Mexico? So sad if that is true.

  31. Carla sorensen says:

    WHAT??? It has been on my bucket list to do.Planned on going this spring. NO!

  32. Steve says:

    its sad having to drive by it everyday on the way to school

  33. I was born and raised in hershey. I went to school across from the theater it was the middle school at the time. We used to smell the chocolate in class all the time. I went on a tour of the origanal factory in the early 90s it was way better than chocolate world. My great grandfather worked there in 30s. Its not the same in town anymore and never will be.

    • Lindsey says:

      I went to the old Hershey Middle School too. One of my fondest memories, warm afternoons in Social Studies class on the second floor, windows open and the smell of cocoa permeating everything.
      The factory was more than a landmark, it was the heart of the town. Every time I come home I am saddened by the rampant commercialism. The town is losing what made it special in order to become just another obnoxious tourist trap. Progress is all well and good, but most of the new buildings just stand out like a sore thumb and it feels like things are getting over developed, over crowded. I remember when Hershey was a town and home first, a tourist destination second.
      My Grandma worked in the factory during the Depression too. I grew up with stories about Mr. Hershey and the factory was just always there, a constant, I never even suspected that they would tear it down. It seemed sacred.
      If they ever try to tear down the arena I will chain myself to the doors 🙂

  34. I live within walking distance of the old factory, now gone. The offices still remain, and the large bushes that spell out Hershey Cocoa, remain as well. They also have plans to really spruce up that area. From all I’ve read, downtown is really going to be nice looking, when it’s completed. The street lights will remain. They even added new, smaller lights, along the main road, that have Hershey Kisses on them. While this is sad, the building was just so outdated. They wanted to turn them into apartments, but the work it would have taken, for them to pass inspection, would have just been too much.

  35. ltwriter says:

    I lived about 11 miles from here. My dad drove truck around Hershey and at least once a year came home with a huge flattish box of everything Hershey made. I loved driving through there and will miss it. I wonder if Hershey understands how much history defines it from so many other cities also with so much to offer? A lot at other cities around the country suggests not nearly enough effort was made to save this place. Just check out the historic lofts in Denver, Boston and others.

  36. kim says:

    I have lived in this area all my life, my family and all my ancestors.were part of the Hershey era Back to the day`s when my Aunt Ethel in the early 1900`s have all worked in the Hersey plant.
    I remember all the stories and being in the plant ,very sad to see a part of American History leave us a shame foe all .

  37. Kayla says:

    Unfortunately, it was torn down because of asbestos and other safety issues. They tried to save it, but couldn’t because of the health and safety issues. I work at the hotel and that’s what I was told.

  38. It is a shame how things are changing in Hershey. Mr. Hershey is probably rolling over in his grave with disbelief . I worked at the Hotel Hershey for 15 yrs and loved to smell the choc coming out the stacks in the early morning hours.

  39. Jim says:

    Would the candy family be the Groves?

  40. Thom Habecker says:

    I doubt if Mr. Hershey is rolling in his grave. He of all people would understand. He built state of the art to be able to bring chocolate to the masses. He did not do it for love he did it for money. Yes he took better care of his employees than most but he was still the boss and they were workers.
    Why didn’t the company do something with it? They could have made housing for workers, or another hotel.

    • Baap says:

      What Mr Hershey did for the employees and the community goes much deeper than greed. You may want to look into it. You probably don’t realize all of the things he did.

  41. Shelly shackleford says:

    This is so sad it’s like loosing willy wonka!

  42. Dori says:

    Would Mr. Hershey be sad or proud of how his little buisness has grown and prospered.. become a household name.for chocolate.. “a Hershey bar” and his little town on the map as a successful tourist destination and a hub of cutting edge medical care and innovation? I don’t believe Mr. Hershey is at all displeased..

  43. Gaelwyn says:

    I used to work in Hershey and I remember smelling the chocolate in the air. It was part of what made living in a tiny town feel nice and homey. I will miss that when I visit. But, the goal of the Hershey Trust is to support the Milton Hershey School. That is their main priority. If they needed to tear down the old factory to keep things profitable in the future, than they made the right choice. My niece and nephew both attend MHS and so I support any decision that the Trust makes to keep the funding for the school. Helping kids get a good start in life is much more important than fixing up an old building, no matter how much we’ll miss it.

  44. My brother and I also attended MHS, We both were able to tour the factory before they stopped them in 1973. It truly was like a Willy Wonka – experience. We use to joke bout gaining 10 lbs. a year just from the smell of the Chocolate in the air. The real eye catcher was the candy KISS shaped street lights every other one wrapped and unwrapped. But HERSHEY truely is chocolate town U.S.A. Mr. Hershey did so much for so many people not only the town and the people in it and from the other small towns that surround it as well. He also founded the MILTON HERSHEY BOYS SCHOOL for under privilege orphaned boys in 1909 which now is co-ed I guess this just goes to show that change is inevidable but at what coast ? Yes this was truly a sad day….

  45. Susan says:

    As a child, I went with my father, who worked at the factory, to pick up his paycheck in the “watch office.” I remember the guys there doting on me and giving me huge chunks of chocolate. Then, I worked at the factory during the summers as I tried to earn money to attend college. I’ll never forget the day I had to shovel bathtub after bathtub of chocolate scraps down a hole in the floor before it melted (and it was HOT). It’s so very sad to see such a huge part of this region be torn down. No, Hershey Chocolate is not what it once was.

  46. J says:

    It is sad. I considered taking a job there but the Hershey sorority is long gone. I was told when I was screening that if I got hired I would be a contractor and Hershey would never hire me. If i took that job I could never be promoted. If I worked in the r and d shop I could never talk about my work. I turned it down. Little do they know I already worked for them for free for 6 years without so much as a thank you, and I was on international television in the process making them look good. Last I heard in the news the trustees were finding ways to divide up the profits and to leave nothing for the town. Too bad Milton didn’t have a Charlie to leave it all to.

  47. Brian says:

    This is sad a factory like this diserved to be a national landmark and should have been saved for future generations to enjoy. If I had the money I would have tried to save this beautiful factory

  48. Doug says:

    I was raised in E-town and can still vividly remember my parents driving 10 miles on Hershey road to the park on week-ends. We went there alot as kids. I can still picture the two ferris wheels and the booth where you bought the penny tickets for all the rides. That bridge we crossed and the big Carp we would feed corn kernels and popcorn in the creek below. The old fun house with that spinning floor that would through you off so fast. The bumper cars. The whip and hearing the whipping crack sound. And of course the Jack Rabbit or Comet which ever you like to call it, which as a kid I was fortunate enough to ride in the car behind Jay North “Dennis the Menace” if you didn’t know, and talk with him. He put on an act that night at the old Band Shell. I can still remember him crying and being so upset because his chaperon would not let him be with kids and play in the park. I felt so bad for him. These were only a few park memories of which there are to many to write about. It goes on and on. Not to mention the old park pool. E-town park recreation culb used to run a school bus full of kids up there every Saturday. My parents had picnics there with their friends and all the kids. Who can forget the clicking sound as you went through the barred turnstile and the cold shower you tried to avoid as you exited the locker room to the pool area. The Hershey Ball room with all those Big Band era names. and the Chocolate Factory tours. I will never forget taking a 5th grade tour through the factory and I stayed in the far back as we were led through just so I could dip my finger in the big vats of milk chocolate being mixed with those big rollers. Much to my surprise it had a bitter taste because the sugar was not added yet. So many good memories in a time when life seemed simpler and much more joyful. Let us not forget our history and preserve those things worth keeping. Those things that remind us of who we are and where we come from. A time when family, friends and others meant more than the almighty dollar. No surprise this happened to such a historical landmark. A fact about Milton S. Hershey, he kept all his employees working during the great depression though it was not cost affective. Name me one corporate bastard that would do that today. It’s not that Hershey lost its heart to a strip mall; the real travesty is that humanity is losing theirs

  49. Baap says:

    To clarify the production from that factory didn’t all go to another facility in the area, it went to a new facility in Mexico. The employees of the factories can’t even get an employee day at the park, one of the ammenities built originally for the employees and their families, infact they get a small discount that is matched at local grocery stores.

  50. Joni says:

    Almost EVERY Italian American relative of mine worked at the chocolate plant and/or the office. When my brother Mike & I were young, we used to tour the plant in the summers when we needed something to do. My dear comical Aunt Emily used to work in the packing dept; when she saw us walking down that yellow tour line, painted on the plant hardwood floors, she “accidentally” dropped an entire box of Hershey bars on the floor and exclaimed,”OOPS!!” It saddens me so completely that the company, now managed mainly by outsiders and not townspeople or MHS graduates has turned it’s back on the people who literally built and ran the plant, by building a plant in Mexico, and by eliminating jobs in the automated plant. EVERYONE knows Milton Snavely Hershey would NOT have wanted this for his utopian town!!!!!!

  51. mbo says:

    I am Lucky enough to remember the trip to the factory when the hundreds and hundreds of kisses attired in their silver uniforms marched down the huge beltways and looking down into the enormous vats of chocolate as it was gently stirred in preparation; it was an experience never equaled by the modernized facsimile ride. The factory’s demise was long ago.

  52. Greg Urbano says:

    Sounds like an unfortunate loss of history.

  53. Trish Graboske says:

    My family used to go to Hershey regularly to buy the cocoa-husk mulch that the factory sold. My mother’s rose garden always smelled like chocolate!

  54. Rick Blauch says:

    This is progress. Or so they try to tell us. It’s putrid at best. But, as long as they reach their net profit goals, everything is worth it. History means nothing. Iconic landmarks mean nothing. If it negatively effects the bottom line, get rid of it. With what they spent to demolish that building, they could have built a plant that was big enough to pay for itself. This is what happens when numbers crunchers with no ties to Hershey, or it’s community, take over. There’s no way that the old building could have been utilized? Museum? It all came down to the bottom line. When it was determined that they couldn’t, or wouldn’t spend money to improve it, get rid of it. Get your profits today! Get your bonus today! Then get out! I think it would be better if they just got out!

    • Tim says:

      There are no easy answers, but I agree with you. I think “history” lost in this case. If we were in Europe, my guess is the building would be reused.

  55. My father retired from Hershey Chocolate. My kids and I had tours of the plant over the years. It was always a thrill. This is a sad and very disturbing site.

  56. Kevin says:

    This is what happens when you don’t have a historical board in place in the town…something like this factory should never be torn down, there is too much history in that building. I am 21 years old and I understand the importance of history in our world…the “bigger, better, newer” is not always true.

  57. Carl Cox says:

    MHS Class of 73. This is very saddening. MHS changed my life and made it so much better. This is a terrible loss for Hershey, PA.

  58. steve says:

    one of the best times as a kid going down and smelling the chocolate, might be cool idea to invest in a drive in or Hersey chocolate themed theater experiment with foods n chocolate and serve them at a decent price…it could help with the job losses to

  59. Pete says:

    I grew up in Hamburg area, I remember going to Hershey very often, I am glad I to had the chance to ride the monorail and stop and tour the chocolate factory, it really was a Willie Wonka experience..I visit Hershey every time I return to PA as now I live in Florida for about 28 years. It is a shame the old factory could not have been saved or incorporated into an attraction for the park, another iconic symbol gone. How sad.

  60. I was born and raised in Minersville Penna. From a child up we were at Hershey, almost on a weekly basis. Family, friends, it was our place and only place Soo proud and surely loved the chocolate factory.after my marriage and moving out of the hometown. We with the family continued our trips to Hershey..That was the place for my husband and children. A few yrs.ago I read where the factory for making the Hershey kisses and bars was sent to Mexico..my heart dropped. I knew this left a bad taste in my mouth and knew there were changes occurring, not good..soo the tale continues, I knew there were alarms out that were not favorable. The factory. With all the history with it. Could not, would not, be
    Salvaged as a historical part of the times…WHATEVER..

  61. Robert Foster says:

    I am a graduate of MHS and I always say “There will NEvER be another Milton Hershey”. His business philosophy, his philanthropy and his “gift” to so many “needy” children, of which I was one, has made his legacy unique. Thanks again, Mr. Hershey, they can tear down your factory but they can not take you from my heart….

  62. Roderickhirley Palmer says:

    Very Sad about it!–We family was here good time & smell good !–PRAY hope it go back again future!>>>OLD TIME better than Future !<<< O:(

  63. Joe Peters says:

    I worked for Reese’s for close to 42 years. I hauled hundreds of tank truck loads of cocoa butter, chocolate liquor and dark chocolate out of the old plant. Its just a very strange feeling to see the old plant disappear. Whether or not its justified is not for me to say but the bottom line is its all about making money, pushing people to do more for less money, forcing people to work seven days a week and sometimes sixteen hours a day. Don’t believe me, ask someone that works at West Hershey. To know how successful the Hershey Company is and still realize how poorly they are starting to treat their employees is very sad indeed.

  64. Bill Perrow says:

    Did business with Hershey from 1963 to 1978. Many enjoyable trips to the plant. Met a lot of wonderful people in the traffic dept. ” Howard Gabriel, Dick Dows, Walter Wyld” Stayed at Rhodes Motel in Palmyra.

  65. Matt and Crystal Reese says:

    What upsets our family most is what was most obvious that they could have done with that factory and not going and making new museums, new factories, and everything else like they have but in fact just use the original building and make it into the original factory tour minus the chocolate. That way they could have kept the originality of town in the factory and let everybody new and old be able to relive and and recreate the memories in the younger generations so as to pass on this legacy from generation to generation but what sadens us the most is the fact that some people wanted to get greedy and export things to cheaper labor instead of supporting the town and the people that helped to build it to what it is today. We are not worried about another hotel, ballroom, pool or amusement park and neither is the rest of my family, what we were most worried about is keeping the nostalgia of the town there for everybody to enjoy. We find it most upsetting that they couldn’t come to one the simplest of realisations and just turned that factory in to a museum of the proud history of that town and leave it just the way it was the last day that people worked there, that nostalgia, that feeling, the essence of what everybody put into this proud snackfood region….. Now my wife and I are most afraid the next companies that will be leaving this area are Utz and Snyders, and that they will be moving to Mexico just to follow the Hershey companies guide to greedy success in abandoning what and who made them the corporate giants they are.

  66. Reblogged this on Bobbie Jo Was Here and commented:
    I loved to smell the chocolate when driving through Hershey, PA.

  67. Patti Stauffer says:

    You write about the rebuilding of the area where the factory stood. It would be very cool if they would build using the same kind of design they used way back then. I recently visited Atlanta GA and they have areas that all new bldgs MUST be build to look like old ones. It is really neat. But then, I like old stuff, so maybe that idea would not be acceptable around here. Just a thought.

  68. Lived in E-town. Went to Hershey HS for a year. You knew it was going to rain if you could smell the chocolate 5 miles east of town. Had friends whose parents worked at the factory. This ‘allowed’ us to sneak in the employee entrance and snag some free chocolate that was mangled somewhere in the manufacturing process. Same thing applied to Reese’s. Might be a good time to get out the old postcards and sell them on Ebay?

  69. Pingback: Meet a Museum Blogger: Tim Grove | Museum Minute

  70. Tom Zinn says:

    Everyone was sad to see the factory go. But there was little that could be done to utilize it effectively. The kept the offices. In the location of the factory, I wish they would build a hotel called “the cocoa hotel”. The original was torn down in 1971. The Heshey Trust / Herco could use the bushes, smoke stacks and cocoa silos to enhance the design. These patrons could have their own special entrance to Hershey Park through Zoo America. Hotel entrance would be at the corner of chocolate ave and homestead road. The design of the hotel could model the factory, or an enhanced nostalgia factory design for the hotel.

  71. David says:

    I worked for Hershey for 36 years in sales including 3 years in Hershey, PA. I loved the story about Milton Hershey and was proud to represent Hershey for those many years. I am saddened that there wasn’t a way to save the old plant. Buildings in foreign countries stay for hundreds of years but we tear them down. i am forever grateful for my years at Hershey.

  72. Phil says:

    No it is groomed and looking better. The new factory at 375 m is the largest investment in 30! Years in pa. The Reese’s plant still exists and you can smell chocolate and peanuts. Plus Chocolate world is the most visited center with 5 m guests a year. So believe me, Mr Hersheys dream lives on. You don’t see model T Fords on the highway anymore do you?

  73. Gabrielle says:

    It’s so sad, This plant is gone. Wilbur was closed in Lititz, PA. Chocolate makes this states.

  74. Judy woodring says:

    I personally thought the old factory facade was quite ugly. I love how nice the lot looks now. Hope the families that bought the silos vision can be realized.

  75. DLHG says:

    We moved from outside Hershey when I was 10. I loved the smell driving through town & just reading the article I could remember that wonderful smell like I was back there. Many wonderful memories.

  76. Tom says:

    I live nearby and relatives come to visit every year to go to HersheyPark and Chocolate World. Last time they were all sitting around our table ripping open bags of Hershey’s candy they bought at Chocolate World. They were saying, “Wow! This is great and you’ll never get it as fresh as right from the factory!” I had to burst their bubble by having them turn over the bags of candy to read, “Made in Mexico!” So much for fresh from the nearby factory!

  77. Kristina says:

    I graduated from MHS in 2013 and this just broke my heart.

  78. Tom Patrick says:

    I could not agree more with your comments I was born and raised on Pats fill up by the hotel and Hershey that man used to belong to my great grandfather I still live in Hershey but I would leave it in a second if I could convince my significant other to move her she is not the sweetest place on earth I feel it’s the greediest place on earth like you I hate to even drive down chocolate Avenue anymore I try not to look at where the factory was thank you for your article and God bless

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