Hershey’s and Mass Production of Chocolate in America

Chocolate wasn’t always as ubiquitous in America as it is now. How has chocolate become so popular in America over the years? The industrialization of chocolate, especially within the creation of the Hershey Company, played a large role in the advent of chocolate as a widespread food in the United States.

The Hershey Company was founded by Milton S. Hershey in 1903. Hershey was able to create milk chocolate, efficiently using a small amount of cocoa beans and a large amount of milk and sugar in order to minimize costs.

A tour of Hershey’s factory, detailing the process of making the chocolate

As seen in the video, Hershey’s company uses machines at almost every step of the process of making its milk chocolate. From the very beginning, the cocoa beans are seen travelling on a mechanized conveyer belt. They are then sorted through a computer-supervised machine and blended together in yet another machine. The press also plays a large role to extract cocoa butter from the chocolate liquor. Automated wrapping machines allow the final stage of the process to be quick and efficient. In this way, industrialization gave Hershey the ability to produce milk chocolate for the first time in America quickly and efficiently and essentially monopolize the milk chocolate market. The visualization of the machines in the video are able to further emphasize the mechanization of the chocolate production process and the large-scale efforts of the company.

Hershey initially had difficulties trying to find the perfect recipe for milk chocolate, and producing it on a large scale. The methods of making the milk chocolate now, as the video displays, exemplify the key role industrialization played in the Hershey Company. The video emphasizes the importance of milk in the Hershey chocolate milk process, claiming “It’s all about the milk”.  D’Antonio supports this in Hershey: Milton S. Hershey’s Extraordinary Life of Wealth, Empire, and Utopian Dreams as he explains the lengthy trial and error process Hershey underwent to find that skim millk, particularly condensed milk, was the perfect fit (103-104). Condensed milk was a key product that resulted from the ability to preserve food (Goody 77). Hershey was able to use this aspect of condensed milk  for his chocolate production. This milk was also easier to use in machines than the powdered milk used in Europe, and thus Hershey was able to make his chocolate at a lower cost than the Europeans (D’Antonio 105). In this way, industrialization was able to help Hershey even more in America than the mechanized processes helped European companies.

The Hershey’s website, https://www.thehersheycompany.com/about-hershey/our-story/hersheys-history.aspx , explains that “with mass production, Hershey was able to lower the per-unit cost and make milk chocolate, once a luxury item for the wealthy, affordable to all”. This is presented within the context of the “Getting Started” page, the years 1894-1916. The website’s inclusion of the mass production of chocolate within these years demonstrate the importance of industrialization from the very beginning of the company. Without large-scale production, Hershey would not be where it is today and chocolate may very well not have gained the momentum it has in the United States today.

A short clip on the Sundance Channel,http://www.sundance.tv/series/love-lust/videos/love-lust-chocolate-the-peoples-candy-clip-3 ,(website did not allow to embed into post) explains that Hershey was able to produce 100,000 pounds of chocolate every day—a level never seen before (1:10). Hershey’s use of the industrial revolution and application to the chocolate market rivals Ford’s development of cars (1:11). The video mentions that Hershey was at a chocolate fair and was there first introduced to machines; this became “a turning point of chocolate in America” (00:35). As Goody explains, some foods required “the adaptation of simple machinery” for large-scale production (81). Hershey was able to use machines to make chocolate at a level of efficiency never seen before.

The ability of Hershey to produce so much chocolate and sell it at a low price was key to the rise of chocolate in America, creating “The people’s candy” (1:20). This video demonstrates enthusiastically the importance of industrialization for the demand for chocolate in America and the rise of Hershey chocolate as chocolate for the masses and general public.

The Hershey Company quickly grew to become the iconic American chocolate, representing the American way of life. Without the mechanization and mass production of chocolate, Hershey would not have been able to thrive in the market and empress such a desire for chocolate on the American population.

Works Cited

D’Antonio, Michael. Hershey : Milton S. Hershey’s Extraordinary Life of Wealth, Empire, and Utopian Dreams. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006. Print.

Goody, Jack. “Industrial Food: Towards the Development of a World Cuisine.” Food and Culture: A Reader. Ed. Carole Counihan and Penny Van Esterik. New York: Routledge, 1997. 72-88. Print.

Hershey Chocolate World Factory Tour Full Ride – It’s the Milk Chocolate! Youtube. Inside the Magic, 14 Oct. 2010. Web. 12 Mar. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLUEptVYHN4&gt;.

“Hershey’s History.” The Hershey Company. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2015. <https://www.thehersheycompany.com/about-hershey/our-story/hersheys-history.aspx&gt;.

Love Lust & Chocolate – The Peoples Candy (Clip 3). AMC Networks Inc. N.d.Sundance TV. Web. 13 Mar. 2015. <http://www.sundance.tv/series/love-lust/videos/love-lust-chocolate-the-peoples-candy-clip-3&gt;.

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