Happy Sweetest Day! Sweetest Day is kind of like Valentine’s Day, but in October. You’re supposed to do something sweet for your sweetie
What better way to celebrate Sweetest Day than by visiting “The Sweetest Place on Earth.” Thanks to air miles, Andy surprised me with a trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania, the self -proclaimed sweetest place on earth
They make millions of pounds of chocolate every day right there in Hershey, which makes them the sweetest place around
This was the bathroom in my hotel room.
Can you see the evil item lurking underneath the sink?
Yes, a scale.
Every time you do something in Hershey, they hand you a full sized chocolate bar. And then they put a scale in the bathroom??? How evil is that?!
My first day in Hershey, I visited the Hershey Story, which is a museum dedicated to Mr. Hershey’s life.
There was a school group visiting at the same time I was there. The kids were having fun trying on aprons and playing with the interactive displays.
I found the secret flow chart to making chocolate!
This is how they used to move their chocolate around. When one of these cast iron tubs was full of chocolate, it weighed about 900 pounds. Wow! That’s a lot of chocolate.
Old fashioned Kiss making machine
Vintage Hershey Bar mold. This was a two pieced metal dealywhopper used to make molded chocolate bars.
Overview of the upstairs of the museum.
Definitely worth visiting if you find yourself in Hershey, PA
Secrets for making Hershey chocolate
I had no idea that Hershey’s made soap at one time.
Nor did I have any idea that Hershey’s made chewing gum.
Mr. Hershey gave several million dollars to Penn State to build their medical facility in Hershey. They developed the first implantable Artificial Heart!
Because Milton Snavely Hershey only had a 4th grade education, he wanted to ensure that other people had the opportunity to obtain a higher education, so offered two years of tuition- free higher education at the local junior college to Derry Township residents.
The township thing is kind of a foreign concept to me – I think it’s comparable to the urban growth boundaries that we have in the west. They have townships, counties and boroughs within the state. Sounds very complicated.
Most people, including myself, don’t know that Mr. Hershey actually started his entrepreneurship as a confectioner making caramel. Chocolate was secondary.
Mr. Hershey’s biggest challenge was securing sugar at a reasonable cost. He went down to Cuba and bought a sugar mill, along with thousands of acres of sugar cane.
While doing this, he built up the surrounding community by implementing child labor laws, improving the standard of living and introducing a school for the children.
Mr. and Mrs. Hershey were supposed to be on the maiden voyage of the Titanic! Here is the cancelled check of the deposit he had put down on a state room. Business called him back early, so he and his wife fortunately missed that cruise!
One of the things which impressed me the most was the school that Mr. and Mrs. Hershey started. Because they couldn’t have children (she had symptoms which doctors have described as very similar to MS), they decided to start a school for orphan boys. The school started in 1910 with four boys. The school continued to flourish as the years went by and more students were added. The boys had to have lost one or both parents in order to attend the school. The driver that picked me up from the airport happened to be one of those boys at one time. He had lost his father. His mother signed the social security checks over to the school to help her son get further in life. The school never touched that money – they just let it accumulate the entire time the driver was in school. The boys had to live in a stable home environment, so no more than 12-14 boys were allowed in a home, usually a dairy farm (where Mr. Hershey got his milk for his milk chocolate), along with house parents. My driver said that he would get up at 5 a.m. to milk the cows, then went to school. After school, he milked the cows again, cleaned the barn and then had an hour of required school work time. Then an hour was for personal time and bedtime was 9 pm. When he turned 21, the school gave him the entire amount of money that had accumulated from the social security checks from his father passing. When the boys graduated from the Hershey school, they had learned one of 11 vocations taught through the school, and were given $100 and a suitcase full of new clothes to start off their life.
The school is now co-ed with approximately 50-50 boy-girl ratio. There are currently 1854 students enrolled. They still live in ‘stable home environments’ as dictated by Mr. Hershey in his will. They don’t all live on dairy farms anymore, but still have chores around the house to do. When they graduate from high school, they are still given $100 and a suitcase full of clothes. If they have maintained a C average or better in their schoolwork, along with showing good character, and if they want to go on to a higher education, they are given a laptop computer and $80,000 in scholarship funds. When Mr. Hershey passed away in 1945, he put his entire estate into a trust for the school, about $60 million. That trust is now worth about $12 billion and is controlled by a Board of Trustees. So every time you purchase a Hershey product, you are directly contributing to improving the lives of orphan children. Guilt-free chocolate with a good cause
This is Founder’s Hall in the school. There are flags representing each of the states that the children come from. I was told that if you are interested in applying to be house parents or teachers at the school, you can go on their website and fill out an application If you know a student who qualifies for the opportunity to attend this school, you can help them apply online as well.
This dome is the second largest of it’s type in the world. Only the Basilica is larger.
After being totally overwhelmed by the philanthropy of Mr. Hershey, I walked around downtown for a bit.
On Chocolate Avenue, brownstone was added to the asphalt so the street is brown The street lights are Hershey kisses Every other one is wrapped/unwrapped.
I found ZooAmerica
I had no idea that there are TWO pink birds in North America. This is a Rosa Spoonbill. Their food floats around inside of a food bowl that is floating around in the water.
Cute little turtle hiding out.
Give me chocolate!
Ginormous alligator snapping turtle. I would hate to run into this thing in a river – he was 3-4 foot long.
Lizard by the window begging for chocolate
Okay, maybe a chocolate covered cricket
Roadrunners. The one on the left was killing a mouse. He would pick it up and whap it on the ground to make sure it was dead. Reminded me of how the chickens kill their mice.
There were bowls of blood on the ground for them to drink out of. One of those ‘kind of gross, kind of cool’ things in life.
Because it happens. And kids (and adults) want to know what the different plops look like
The Snowy Owl was quietly sitting on his perch, taking in everything in his surroundings.
After ZooAmerica, I wandered around a bit more and found Hershey Park, which is an amusement park. They reportedly have a roller coaster that uses hydraulics to propel you from 0-70 mph in 2 seconds. Right now they are only open on the weekends, though. They are having “Hershey Park in the Dark” for Halloween.
Then I found Hershey’s Chocolate World.
Probably one of the only places where you walk in the doors and inhale calories from the smell of chocolate wafting around
They offer a free tour of how chocolate is made.
To get onto the ride, you step onto a rotating platform and then get into a car, which is rotating with the moving platform.
The cows tell the story
100,000 lbs of cacao beans is a whole lot of cocoa!
The process was very interesting: from the grinding, roasting, and breaking to the conching, frothing and molding.
The numbers just kept running up as we went through the tunnel. That’s a whole lot of chocolate!
The largest chocolate bar, at a whopping 5 pounds!
I enjoyed their 4D mystery movie, where someone was breaking into the chocolate factory, but not stealing anything. It was pretty impressive how the narrator (Hershey) could interact with the audience.
Kiss and Reese were part of the mystery solving team, too.
Trolley rides around Hershey and Derry Township are available. I learned a great deal about the history of the town and Mr. Hershey from the conductor.
He handed out Hershey kisses of different flavors throughout the trip You have to try the Pumpkin Spice kisses
Conductor addressing those “chronologically mature” enough to remember Jack Parr, who found his wife in Hershey at a dance I think Jack Parr had something to do with Johnny Carson and Jay Leno, but I’m not sure. I’m not chronologically mature enough, I guess
After the trolley ride, I was able to attend Hershey University
They offer a class on chocolate tasting, not eating.
Different flavors associated with chocolate
The four steps: Look at the chocolate, inspect the coloration and grain. Then snap a piece to help determine the milk/dark cacao content. Then smell the chocolate to see what scents you may pick up. Then allow the chocolate to melt on your tongue. Roll your tongue around to get all different parts of your tongue covered so that you can pick up the different flavors. Enjoy
I earned a Master’s Degree in Chocolate Tasting I’m going to put it next to my Post Hole Digging, PhD
Then I got to create my own candy bar You can choose from a milk, dark or white chocolate base. Then you choose up to 3 different ingredients to add in: almonds, crisp rice, chocolate cookie crumbs, butterscotch chips, etc. As the chocolate base goes down the conveyor belt, whichever ingredients you chose to add, are automatically dispensed into the base. Then it goes under a milk chocolate waterfall which covers the base and added ingredients. You can add sprinkles if you like
Then your specially made chocolate bar is boxed and labeled with your personal label
The second day I was there, I visited Hershey Gardens.
I imagine in the summer months that it would be spectacular.
Mrs. Hershey loved roses, so Mr. Hershey had this garden planted in honor of her memory.
Some of the rose bushes are supposedly the same plants that she had in her personal garden. Mr. Hershey had them transplanted into the Hershey Garden.
There is a Children’s section. You can see the caterpillar tunnel
The Caterpillar Tunnel takes you back to the Butterfly House, which during warm months houses 300-500 butterflies that fly around and will come and land on you
During the cooler months, it has bonsai trees.
These are Hershey Kiss misters They occasionally spray up a mist of water for kids to play in
Chocolate Lane is a sweet way to learn some math
See the fractions and Hershey bars?
This weekend and next, the Garden is hosting the Pumpkin Glow, where 150 pumpkins are lit and placed around the walkway
There were Halloween figures all around the garden. This was kind of a fun way to recycle a milk jug
It was a rainy day, but this is still a beautiful bridge
In the arborial area…
In the Japanese garden area…
The people at the hotel recommended going down to Lancaster area, which has a large Amish population.
So I rented a car, got some directions and headed out.
Okay, so I drive a stick shift that has L-1-2-3 and R for gears. I also drive an automatic that has P-R-N-D-3-2-1 for gears.
What the heck do S and B stand for??? I checked the book and it said the S will rev up the engine for going up an incline, and the B will drag an engine down for going down a hill. But what do the letters stand for???
I found the Visitor’s Center in Lancaster, who recommended going to Bird in the Hand. I thought Bird in the Hand was a little shop, but it’s actually the name of the town.
And the Amish horse and buggies go up and down the streets just like cars.
There were different styles of buggies. This one had a flat bed on the back. Should have a rear dually, too
Sharing the road with a horse and buggy
Notice anything odd? There are turn signals on some of the buggies. Turn signals are usually powered by a 12 volt DC system. So if the Amish don’t use electricity, how do they charge the batteries to power the turn signals??? I need Hershey, Kiss, and Reese to help solve this mystery, too
There were lots of dairy farms and silos in the area
The old architecture was impressive to look at
I have heard of Shoofly Pie, but not actually seen it before
Just after the town of Bird in the Hand came the town of er, um, Intercourse. I don’t even want to know where the name came from.
Their food selection was a bit odd, too
There’s the zip code if you don’t believe me
Team of mules going up, or maybe down, the road. I don’t know how the rivers flow around there
I ventured a little bit north of there and finally found some Fall foliage Very pretty
I made it down to Strasborg to check out the train situation, but was too late in the day to catch a train ride
I made it back last night.
This hydroponic garden is in the Chicago O’Hare airport. They even have a Farmer’s Market right in the airport where you can purchase fresh fruits and veggies
For any other chocoholics out there, this is a great place to visit Just shove the bathroom scale underneath the sink so you can’t see it
Kiss, Hershey and Reese welcome you to visit and help solve their mystery