Roots-Reconnecting with Our Past travel blog

Hershey Chocolate World

Hershey Gardens

Hrshey Trolley

9/22/2014. Monday. Where's Hershey, Pa?

Another beautiful day with an autumn chill in the air and the trees just starting put out their red, orange and yellow foliage. We got an early start to visit Hershey Chocolate World but I didn't think we'd make it at all. There was only one sign in town telling us which way to go for visitor parking but the street was completely closed due to construction work. I followed a detour sign but it seemed that it was the only detour sign since there were no follow up detour signs. What is it with these damn Yankees that they can't seem to consolidate their feces? After many u-turns and a few minor expletives, Anita saw the Hershey Museum. We went into the museum and asked the lady at the desk how to get to Hershey Chocolate World and she said it was easy, just take 2 rights and go a few blocks. There it was!

Did you know that the visitor center at Hershey is the busiest visitor center in the U.S.? During their busy season they usually average around 60,000 visitors a week. The town itself has only 24,000 residents. Oh, by the way, there is no Hershey, Pa. Hershey, Pa is the name of the post office, not the town. The town is named Derry Township. But I digress.

Hershey Chocolate World is just that: every Hershey product made is merchandised to temp your sweet tooth. Of course, they also had the requisite hats, shirts, mugs, toys and other trinkets with the various Hershey products logos. There was a Hershey bakery where you could buy cookies, cupcakes, cakes and pies all made with Hershey chocolate. We passed on the bakery since we were still suffering Amishitis. In the back corner was the Hershey Bake Shop that sold Hershey baking cocoa, various chocolate chips, Hershey Dessert Cookbooks, etc. We did purchase a couple of bags of pumpkin spice Kisses, though. Anita wanted to take the free tour ride there which I didn't think would be much but I was glad we did the ride. Since there are no longer tours of the actual factories, the ride was the alternative; The ride was like being in the factory from the beginning of the manufacturing process to the end. We learned a lot about chocolate and how Hershey candies are made.

Anita then suggested we do the Chocolate Tasting and that was fantastic. We were given 5 different Hershey candies each one representing differing kinds of chocolate. We had to listen as we snapped the candy to discern the ratio of chocolate and milk. The sounds went from a thud to a sharp snap. Next, we had to smell the break line we made to pick up any fragrances of the chocolate. We then had to bite a piece off the candy and let it dissolve in our mouth to get the "finish" taste and describe the various flavors we detected. A chart supplied to us helped in all these steps to better qualify the taste. It was like a wine tasting! I think I need to do more homework to fine tune my taste buds.

There was a trolley tour of the town and, of course, we just had to do this. Actually it was an interesting tour; the guide gave us a history of Milton Hershey, showed us the Hershey factories and the Hershey School. Uncle Milty went bankrupt 5 times before getting his dream successful. He chose this area because of the number of dairies and the fact that there were a lot of Amish living here ( he like the Amish because they were hard workers). He also brought in a bunch of Italian stone masons to build the limestone houses and buildings. By the way, Uncle Milty, built the houses for the Amish and his other workers and only charged them the cost of building or, if they couldn't afford it, he would cosign their loans.

Milton also set up a school for disadvantaged kids and built houses for them at no charge to the kids. Today, the Hershey School is one of the best schools in the country and they have disadvantaged kids from all over the country attending. These kids perform extremely well academically and can attend any university they want because of the school's reputation. Upon graduation each student is given new luggage, new clothes and $100. If any kid decides to go to college, the Hershey Foundation will pay $88,000 in tuition at no charge to the student. The foundation he established for the school is now worth $10 billion.

Next, we went the Hershey gardens and boy were they great! The rose displays were much better than the ones we saw in Portland, Or. These were one of the best gardens we have seen and we have seen a lot of gardens in our travels.

All in all, this was a great day for us! Tuesday, we are heading out for Virginia to see the Natural Bridge, maybe.

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