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Milton Hershey

Biography >> Entrepreneurs
Portrait of Hershey wearing suit
Milton Hershey
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Where did Milton Hershey grow up?

Milton Snavely Hershey was born on September 13, 1857 in the small town of Derry, Pennsylvania. He only had one sibling, a sister named Serina who sadly died from Scarlet fever when Milton was nine years old. His mother, Fanny, was a devoted Mennonite. His father, Henry, was a dreamer who was constantly starting new jobs and working on his next "get rich quick" scheme.

Because Milton's family moved so much, he didn't get a very good education. By the time he turned thirteen he had attended six different schools. Even though he was smart, it was tough on Milton to always be changing schools. After the fourth grade, his mother decided that Milton should leave school and learn a trade

Milton's mom found him a job as an apprentice to a printer. He would help set up each letter for the printing press and then load the paper and ink for the printer to work. He thought the work was boring and didn't enjoy the job. After two years with the printer, Milton's mom helped him to find a new apprentice job with a candy maker.

Learning to Make Candy

In 1872, Milton went to work for Joseph Royer at the Lancaster confectionery shop. There Milton learned about the art of candy making. He made all sorts of candy including caramels, fudge, and peppermints. He really enjoyed being a candy maker and knew he had found what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.

Starting His Own Business

When Milton was nineteen years old he decided to open his own candy business. He borrowed money from his aunt and uncle to get the business open. He opened the shop in the big city of Philadelphia. He had all sorts of candy products and he also sold nuts and ice cream.


Unfortunately, no matter how hard Milton worked, he couldn't figure out how to get his business to make a profit. He worked harder and harder, but soon he ran out of money and had to shut his business down. Milton wasn't one to give up. He moved to Denver, Colorado and got a job with a candy maker where he learned that fresh milk made the best tasting candy. He then opened another candy shop in New York City. This shop failed, too.

Lancaster Caramel Company

Back in Lancaster, Milton once again started a new candy business. This time he would specialize in making just caramels. His caramel company was a huge success. Before long, Milton had to open up new candy making factories and branches all over the country. He was now a rich man.

Hershey Chocolate Company

Even though Milton was now a huge success, he had a new idea that he thought would be even bigger...chocolate! He sold his caramel business for $1 million and put all his efforts into making chocolate. He wanted to make a huge chocolate factory where he could mass produce chocolate so it would be both delicious and affordable for the average person. He got the idea of building a factory in the country, but where would the workers live?

Hershey Pennsylvania

Milton decided to not only build a large factory in the country, but to also build a town. People thought he was crazy! Milton, however, didn't care. He went ahead with his plan and built the town of Hershey, Pennsylvania. It had lots of houses, a post office, churches, and schools. The chocolate company was a huge success. Soon Hershey's chocolates were the most famous chocolates in the world.

Why was Hershey successful?

Milton Hershey was more than just a candy maker and a dreamer, he was a good businessman and learned from his earlier mistakes. When he first started making chocolate, he made one simple product: the milk chocolate candy bar. Because he made so many, he could sell them at a low price. This allowed everyone to afford chocolate. Milton also hired good people, advertised his chocolates, and invested in other aspects of chocolate making like the production of sugar.

Later Life and Death

Milton and his wife, Kitty, were not able to have children. He used his millions to invest in a school for orphaned boys called the Hershey Industrial School. He died at the age of 88 on October 13, 1945.

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