Hershey, Milton S.

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

Hershey, Milton S. (1857–1945), opened his own candy business after working as an apprentice in the shop of Joseph H. Royer, a confectioner in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Hershey’s first business, which sold taffy, nuts, and ice cream, opened in 1876 in Philadelphia. But it only lasted six years, owing in part to Milton’s father’s poor business acumen. After the shop failed, Milton followed his father out west to find his fortune mining silver in Denver, Colorado, an ill-conceived pursuit. But this adventure gave him his first break: in Denver he discovered a recipe for caramel that was superior to any he had ever tried. He brought that recipe back east and, after several more failed attempts, eventually succeeded with his Lancaster Caramel Company, which by 1890 made Milton Hershey wealthier than he had ever dreamed possible. The company grew to employ more than 1,500 workers in four factories, producing hundreds of varieties of caramels. But Milton Hershey wasn’t satisfied. Business didn’t excite him; invention did.