7 Ways Milton Hershey Is Alive In Hershey 159 Years Later
The other day I forgot my cellphone on my desk at work. After I picked my kids up I told them we had to swing by my office and they could come in with me to quickly get my phone. When we walked into the lower lobby my two year old stopped in front of the giant photo of Milton Hershey that is used as wallpaper in the office and she said “Mommy, who dat?”
I hadn’t thought to tell my kids about Milton Hershey, who he was and how he created the town we live in - at least not yet. But my daughter’s question really made me think. How many times a day do I personally come into contact with Milton Hershey? Not just his physical likeness but his overall presence. Since then I have started making note to myself in my everyday life as I live and work in Hershey, PA to how many casual conversations his name is mentioned or times I see his name on a building I pass or his photo on a wall.
Although Milton Hershey died in 1945, he is very much alive in the town he built.
So, who was this guy?
The Hershey’s Chocolate Bar was created by a man named Milton Snavely Hershey (pretty sweet middle name!) in central Pennsylvania in 1893. Surprisingly, creating chocolate and turning it from a luxury to a sweet treat for everyone is not the most interesting part of Milton’s story. It’s what he did with the money that he made. In his lifetime, Milton Hershey become one of America’s wealthiest individuals and he chose to spend his fortune providing amenities to keep his employees happy and helping children in need.
A year and a half ago I came to work at Hershey Entertainment & Resorts, a company that is a direct descendant of Milton Hershey, and I have been fascinated by how many ways not just my company but the town, the people and the places honor Milton Hershey. It’s almost like he is still here with us and everyone is paying homage to the man that built it all.
1. His name is everywhere.
Mr. Hershey's (as many call him locally) idea was to create a “model-town” for the workers of his chocolate factory. The town is named after him but so are many of the buildings in town are as well to pay homage to his legacy. For example: Penn State Hershey Medical Center, the local hospital; The Milton and Catherine Hershey Conservatory at Hershey Gardens; and his most enduring legacy: Milton Hershey School.
2. His story is told every day to visitors from around the world.
Visitors come to Hershey, PA to eat chocolate, ride roller coasters and along the way they learn about Milton Hershey. Where he was born, where he lived, what he built while he was alive and of course how he came up with the idea to make such delicious chocolate is all recounted for you in different ways. You can take a Trolley Tour through Hershey to hear the story and see the sites while you go; you can get a tour of the history of The Hotel Hershey at 10 am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; or you can visit The Hershey Story Museum for an interactive learning experience.
3. Everyone knows what he looks like.
My daughters know what he looks like and they are only two and four. But even for people who do not work for a company that Mr. Hershey started know what he looks like.
When you walk into Hersheypark before you get to any of the rides, a statue of Milton Hershey greets you. His quotes are on the wall when you walk into the chocolate tour ride at Hershey’s Chocolate World. When they turn down your bed at The Hotel Hershey they leave an information packet for you on your bed. Even if you haven’t visited the town of Hershey, PA you have seen Milton Hershey’s photo without ever realizing. His photo is on the back of every Hershey’s chocolate bar. See?
4. Mr. Hershey has 10,000+ kids.
Well, not direct descendants. Let me explain. Milton & his wife Catherine were not able to have children of their own, but they did build a school to help children in social and financial need. Located in Hershey, PA, Milton Hershey School is Milton Hershey’s most enduring legacy.
For more than 100 years, Milton Hershey School has helped more than 10,000 children realize their full potential by offering a top-notch education to students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade from income-eligible families.
5. Many of the town’s buildings are historic.
There are 13 building sor cultural/educational institutions still in operation and open to the public today that were built by Mr. Hershey. You can see these “legacy properties” on the graphic here, they are:
1894 The Hershey Company (originally Hershey Chocolate Company)
1905 Hershey Trust Company
1906 Hersheypark (originally Hershey Park)
1909 Milton Hershey School (originally Hershey Industrial School)
1910 ZooAmerica (originally Hershey Zoo)
1927 Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company (originally Hershey Estates) - press building
1933 The Hershey Story (originally Hershey Museum)
1933 Hershey Theatre
1933 Hershey Bears hockey team (originally Hershey Hockey Club (1933), then Hershey B'Ars (1935))
1933 The Hotel Hershey
1936 Hershey Sports Arena
1937 Hershey Gardens (originally Hershey Rose Garden)
1939 Hersheypark Stadium
6. Employees programs honor their founder.
The descendant companies of Mr. Hershey including Hershey Entertainment & Resorts, The Hershey Company and The M.S. Hershey Foundation all have as part of their mission statements to continue to legacy of Milton Hershey in some way. As a practical matter that means his likeness is often used in office building and his quotes are on the walls, but there are practices in place that also make reference to Mr. Hershey. For example, at Hershey Entertainment & Resorts there is a practice of employees rewarding other employees for doing a good job with a legacy check. This is a booklet of notes that has guess whose picture on the front and allows me to reward my colleagues for an action that took that helped further the legacy of Milton Hershey.
7. He has a birthday party.
Last but not least, the town hosts Milton Hershey a birthday party every year. On September 13 every year the town hosts a birthday celebration in Chocolate Town Square Park to celebrate.This year would have been his 159th birthday. Happy Birthday Mr. Hershey!