Entrepreneur, Chocolate Maker, Philanthropist
You’ve probably eaten a Hershey Bar at some point – it might be the most famous chocolate bar in the world! But did you know that Milton Hershey, the man who invented the Hershey bar, made a real difference in the lives of people who lived and worked in Hershey, Pennsylvania?
Hershey made millions with his chocolate business, but he didn’t get off to a very good start. He dropped out of school, and his first two businesses failed. When he was a teenager, he became an apprentice to a candy maker so that he could learn how to do something useful. Later he went to work for a candy maker and learned how to make caramel with fresh milk. What he learned about chocolate making in 1893 at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, he decided to utilize by adding fresh, local milk to make milk chocolate. At the time, chocolate was very expensive, and nobody else in the United States was making it – he wanted everyone to be able to afford to buy a chocolate bar.
Hershey learned a lot from his business failures – especially how important it is to keep your employees happy. When he opened his chocolate factory in 1903, he built a community around it for the workers so that they would have a nice place to live. In this little town (Hershey, Pennsylvania), he built schools, churches, parks, recreational facilities and a trolley system. Later he added a community building, a department store, a convention hall, an amusement park, and a swimming pool. He even contributed $50 million to build a hospital in Hershey.
He also created a special school for orphan boys (boys without parents) – the Hershey Industrial School. Eventually, he gave almost all of his considerable wealth to that school. Because he planned well, the school, now called the Milton Hershey School, is still going, educating hundreds of boys (and now girls too!) a 100 years later!