Who Owns Hersheys? | CoachSweetTooth

Hershey's is by far one of the world's largest manufacturers of chocolate products today. But who owns Hersheys?

Growing up, Hershey’s chocolate products were always in the background. They appeared in the form of candy bars, Kisses, miniatures, peanut butter cups, Hershey’s Nuggets, Symphonies, Hershey’s liquid toppings, KitKats and the list goes on. From candies to spreads and liquid dessert toppings. Considering their wide range of products, and their hefty investments in marketing and branding activities, it wouldn’t be wrong to say, Hershey’s is and has always been a huge part of American culture.

Hershey's has a number of shareholders. Michele Buck currently sits as the CEO of Hershey's. The Hershey Trust Company presently owns Hershey's. In 1894, Milton S. Hershey founded the corporation. And around the year 1900, he introduced his chocolate bar called the Hershey Bar.

What started out as a small idea has grown up to become one of the biggest chocolate manufacturers all across the globe. While Hershey’s is headquartered in Pennsylvania, its offices are located in 17 different locations in 12 countries. Today, Hershey’s is a name known not only for its commitment to chocolate, but it is famous for its philanthropic activities.  

After extensive research, we have put together this article. It talks about the history of Hershey’s, its business expansion, and its CSR activities.

Table of contents


The Formation of Hershey’s

Mr. Milton Hershey, the founder of Hershey’s, was born in 1857 in Pennsylvania. When Milton was 10, his father left, and therefore, his mother was in charge. Despite being a school dropout, Milton set up his candy shop when he was 18 years old. Before starting his candy shop, he worked under Joseph Royer. Milton worked hard for a couple of years, but his candy shop wasn’t getting much in the way of success.

From there, he left for Denver where he learned the art of caramel making. He tried his hand at a couple of businesses until he founded the Lancaster Caramel Company in 1886, which was a success. In 1893, he saw chocolate machines at an expo in Chicago in 1893, which inspired him to form the Hershey Chocolate Company in 1894. In the year 1900, he sold the caramel company for a million dollars, and from there, he focused all of his efforts on making quality chocolate. He then built a chocolate plant in Derry Church, his hometown.  

Philanthropic Activities


In 1910, Milton Hershey started a school with his wife to educate children from underprivileged backgrounds. In the beginning, it had four orphan students and it was called the Hershey’s Industrial School. The school continued to expand, and by the year 1960, it was open to students from diverse backgrounds. In the mid-1970s, the school was opened to social orphans. The term Social orphans I used for children coming from broken families.

In 1918, Milton established a fund for the school and decided to invest all of his savings into it. He led the school and the trust till 1944. The school is still functioning and is managed by the trust. Here are some admission requirements at the school.

  •  The family income of the students shouldn’t be above the national poverty level.
  • The child must be between ages 4 and 15.
  • The applicants should have an IQ over 80.
  • They shouldn’t have any behavioral problems.
  • The students should benefit from the school program. 

The Great Building Campaign

At the time of the great depression, Hershey came to the realization that most fresh grads were out of jobs due to the deteriorating economic conditions. This gave birth to restrained opportunities. To provide financial stability, he started creating jobs. He also constructed buildings across the town, thus accommodating unemployed men and women.

The building campaign included the construction of a hotel, a community building, and some new offices for the company. This new project provided jobs to almost 600 individuals. Let’s look at some of the initiatives taken by the foundation. 

Educational and Cultural Center

The educational and cultural center was opened in 1960 to create employment opportunities for the members of the community. The center also provided vocational opportunities that complemented the skills learned at educational institutions. 

Hershey Medical Center

In 1963, the trust donated to the Pennsylvania State University a sum of $50 million, which helped them make a medical school. Today, this medical center is a non-profit establishment, primarily aimed at research. Its medical facility has more than 500 beds, and it offers several medical courses. The old hospital was replaced by the new medical center, thus providing medical services to community members. 

Hershey Junior College

The junior college was established only a few years after the establishment of the foundation. It provided free-education facilities to the residents of the town and the children of the corporation’s employees. However, it closed down in 1965. 

On the Battlefield

Hershey was a patriotic man. In the Second World War, the army needed a large volume of ration supplies. Therefore, Hershey’s came up with the Ration D Bars, which were special nutrition bars made in accordance with the army’s requirements.

These bars could resist high temperatures, and they didn’t weigh more than one or two ounces. It had all the nutrition needed by soldiers on the battlefield. At the same time, it was unpleasant enough to keep the soldiers from developing a taste for it. From 1940 to 1945, three billion of these bars were manufactured. Later on, they came up with a tropical bar that didn’t melt, but the only good thing was that it tasted better than the Ration D Bar.

On October 13th, 1945, Milton Hershey died, after losing a battle against pneumonia. Hershey was 88 years old. He left a strong community behind him, and his legacy lives to this day. Despite being one of the biggest chocolatiers in the world, he didn’t have too much wealth, as he gave all of it away for the betterment of mankind. 76 years down the line, Hershey’s happens to be one of the biggest names in the world of chocolate, and it continues to grow. 


Lori Gilmore

Lori Gilmore

Lori has been a Culinary Arts instructor for twenty years. She has taught in the public school setting, at the collegiate level and through adult continuing education as well as running several cooking and baking camps for children. She has participated in several cooking, cake & chocolate contests and has been well recognized. She has raised thousands of dollars for charities using the byline “Saving the World one Cupcake at a Time”. Additionally, she has had several articles regarding food published in various magazines.

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