Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

Hershey’s, synonymous in the United States with chocolate, is the maker of a candy bar that has greatly influenced the American palate with its high sugar content and slightly sour off-notes, a taste truly distinctive from European chocolate. Introduced in 1900, the plain milk chocolate candy bar is the invention of Milton S. Hershey, a visionary who believed so strongly in the health and nutrient value of chocolate that he sold his successful caramel business for $1 million at the turn of the century to finance a massive new chocolate factory amidst the dairy farms of western Pennsylvania. See hershey, milton s. Hershey taught himself the art of making milk chocolate—no easy task—and stumbled upon a method that allowed the lipase enzymes in the milk to break down the milk fat and produce “flavorful free fatty acids,” according to Hershey chemists who later analyzed the process. In other words, the evaporated milk that went into his candy bar recipe was slightly soured. This flavor became the hallmark of the Hershey brand when the milk chocolate bar was introduced coast to coast in 1906. The first milk-chocolate candy available to most Americans, it became an instant hit.