The girls and I accompanied DH on a trip to Bloomsburg, PA this weekend. While he went into the plant for work, we took a side trip down to Hershey, PA to visit Chocolate World.
Chocolate World is the most-visited corporate headquarters in the world, according to one of the guides we met during our time there. It was built to accomodate the large number of tourists and visitors who wanted to know more about how Hershey chocolate was made.
We splurged on the Chocolate Enthusiast’s package, which got us HERSHEY’S Create Your Own Candy Bar, HERSHEY’S Really Big 3D Show, HERSHEY’S Chocolate Tasting Adventure, and HERSHEY TROLLEY WORKS.
We were just in time for the Big 3D Show, which combined a live actor with a 3-D film and presented the history of Hershey’s Chocolates.
Apparently, Mr. Hershey tried several times to break into the candy business: he set up shops in New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago- all with heartbreaking failure. He was a caramel maker, but it seemed no one was very interested in caramels. Then he discovered milk chocolate, and began dipping his caramels in it. They sold like hotcakes— in England. So he went over to England to find out why they were so popular there. Turns out that people would suck the chocolate until it was gone, then discard the caramels! He came back to the states and started making milk chocolate. Due to high costs of raw ingredients, Hershey located his factory in an agricultural location in Pennsylvania so he could have access to fresh milk. He also bought a sugar plantation in Cuba and grew his own sugar. The rest, as they say, is history.
After the show, we went for lunch, then did the Chocolate Tasting adventure. That was really interesting. We got to sample milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and artisan chocolate with different amounts of cacao. We noted the texture, “snap” (milk chocolate does not make a sound when you break it, but dark chocolate does), and aftertastes when you let the chocolate melt on your tongue. It was fun and very informative.
Next, we took a quick ride on the Hershey history ride, which reminded me a lot of the Space Mountain ride at EPCOT. It was a lot of glitz and sound but showed a simulation of how chocolate is made in the real factory.
After that, we went on our trolley ride. The trolley takes you into the town of Hershey, and we discovered that Mr. Hershey was a very charitable man who gave back a lot to the community he literally built with his own hands (okay, his own money, but who’s counting?) His school is still in existence, and helps over a thousand underprivileged children each year. We got to see the inside of Founders Hall:
The streetlights in the town all look like Hershey Kisses, and the gardens of Mrs. Hershey are public parks for everyone to enjoy. We really enjoyed the trolley, especially since we got several samples of free chocolate.
Finally, we did the Make Your Own Chocolate Bar activity. There is a room with several touch-screen terminals, at which you can select your bar base (milk, dark or white) plus up to three add-ins: chocolate chips, dried raspberries, pretzel bits, toffee crunch, etc. Next, you enter the factory (and you have to wear an apron and hair-net, too!) and watch your bar go through the automated production process. It travels along a belt and gets the add-ins, a top coat, and then goes through the dryer. While it’s setting, you can go into another room of touch-screens and make your label. FInally, your bar is done and it gets packaged with the label you designed. Very cool!
Of course there was a chance to go through the shop and pick up some souvenirs and chocolates to take home- as if we hadn’t had enough chocolate already that day.