B. September 13, 1857 – d. October 13, 1945
Milton Snavely Hershey was a confectioner, philanthropist, and founder of The Hershey Chocolate Company and the “company town” of Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Hershey was born on a farm near Derry Church, Pennsylvania, the only surviving child of Henry and Fanny Hershey (Hershey’s middle name comes from his mother’s maiden name, Snavely). Due to the family’s frequent moves he dropped out of school after the fourth grade and was then apprenticed to a Lancaster, Pennsylvania, printer. The apprenticeship was soon terminated as he did not like the craft and purposely let his hat fall into the printing press.
He then served a four-year apprenticeship with a Lancaster candy maker, after which he established his first candy-making business in Philadelphia. That initial effort failed, as did his next two attempts in Chicago and New York City. His Reformed Mennonite mother’s family financed several of these unsuccessful ventures in the candy industry.
Returning to Lancaster in 1883, Hershey established the Lancaster Caramel Company, which quickly became an outstanding success. Utilizing a caramel recipe he had obtained during his previous travels, his company soared to the top. It was this business that established him as a candy maker, and set the stage for future accomplishments. Hershey became fascinated with the machinery to make German chocolate exhibited at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, and bought the equipment for his company.