Hershey, Pennsylvania: A chocolate king’s industrial utopia
In 1900, Milton Hershey sold the successful caramel candy business he’d founded in order to become a pioneer in the mass-production of milk chocolate. He built a factory complex near his birthplace in rural Pennsylvania, in part because the area’s dairy farms offered access to an ample supply of milk. Due to the remote location of the factory, Hershey also constructed a town for his employees, intending it as an industrial utopia that reflected his progressive beliefs. With streets named Chocolate and Cocoa avenues, the new town featured a wide variety of affordable, modern homes that workers could rent or own, a trolley system, public schools, social clubs, an amusement park and zoo. In 1909, Hershey, who was childless and had a limited formal education, established a local boarding school for orphaned boys. During the Great Depression, he launched a building campaign that kept hundreds of people employed and resulted in the addition of a large hotel, sports arena and other public structures to his model town.
Despite Hershey’s altruism and his chocolate-scented community’s many amenities, life in “the sweetest place on Earth” wasn’t entirely sweet. Efforts were made by Hershey and his executives to police employees’ behavior when they were off the clock, and company managers were accused by some workers of showing favoritism when it came to wages and hiring practices. In 1937, Hershey chocolate factory workers organized the company’s first labor union and went on strike. Although the strike was short-lived, it marred the community’s idyllic image. However, after the chocolate king died in 1945, Hershey survived, unlike other company towns, and chocolate is still made there today.
I guess that when it comes right down to it, folks just don't like to have companies (or governments) trying to control their personal lives. Not a good idea, for the most part! At least they still make chocolate in Hershey...!
Coffee out on the patio this morning. Hot chocolate anyone?