Original Hershey Chocolate Factory closing in Hershey, Pennsylvania

Milton Hershey’s chocolate factory, with its iconic double smokestack, is closing soon in downtown Hershey, Pennsylvania.

According to a National Public Radio report, Hershey’s chocolate bars will still be made nearby, in a newer facility outside of town that better accommodates modern manufacturing equipment. The company says global competition is the reason the factory will be shuttered, with 500 jobs lost in the process.

When Hershey built his factory, he followed the lead of British chocolate-maker Cadbury in building housing, community centers and even an amusement park for the chocolate company’s employees.

But in the century since the company was founded, Hershey, Pennsylvania, has become more than a factory town. Its Hersheypark theme park now caters to tourists, and hotels and resorts have sprung up around it.

For decades, visitors to “America’s chocolate center” toured the original factory at the corner of Chocolate and Cocoa avenues along with their visit to Hersheypark.

Today, the factory tours have been replaced by a 10-minute ride at Hershey’s Chocolate World that shows the chocolate-making process in a more visitor-friendly environment. But a monorail ride at Hersheypark still passes the original factory, with a voice-over describing it as “the world’s largest chocolate factory.”

The factory broke ground back in 1903 when the town of Hershey was still called Derry Church. Five years into its operation, the plant gave birth to a candy that Hershey named the Kiss – starting a long tradition of churning out massively popular chocolate products. Hershey now produces over 80 million Kisses every single day.

Before Milton Hershey became the largest maker of chocolate in the world, he made his money with caramel – and was one of the first to use fresh milk in his recipe. The sale of his caramel firm is what financed his chocolate empire. And even though his empire is mostly known for its Kisses and Bars – the various plants around the world churn out almost 200 different candy products, including gum, mints, hard candy and licorice.

One famous product that was made in the town came from the H.B. Reese company – founded by a former dairy worker for Hershey. It wasn’t till 1963 that the Hershey company purchased Reese’s and making the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup a member of the Hershey family.

[Image credit: Flickr user slgckgc]%Poll-53886%

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