"In the early twenties, two professors at New York University surveyed more than a thousand people to discover the power of product names. In chocolate Hershey was first; other category leaders were Kellogg in cereal, Ford in cars, and Ivory in soap." (p. 177)
|The slightly strange cover of D'Antonio's book.|
|An icon: the Hershey Bar|
|We all know the Hershey Kiss.|
Hershey's insight into the potential for small wrapped chocolates allowed him to be the first in the American market, and the small price of a Hershey bar -- once just a nickel -- allowed his business to survive not only in boom times, but also in economic downturns and through the Great Depression.
The most surprising characteristic of Milton Hershey, I found, was his love of gambling -- roulette, betting on horses, and similar pastimes. He liked to go to casinos in Monte Carlo, in Cuba (where he also owned sugar mills and plantations to supply his candy-making), and to horse-racing tracks like Saratoga, N.Y. Author D'Antonio frequently states that Hershey, the competent executive who managed the chocolate factory, lived in a relatively modest home, and did not engage in conspicuous consumption when in Hershey, PA, became a different person when he traveled. Interestingly, Hershey did not gamble with his core business -- in 1929, he was not one of the many people who had gambled by buying stocks on margin. In fact, he seems to have helped out several Hershey Corporate executives who had gambled on the stock market before the bottom dropped out.
In comparison to other great businessmen of the Gilded Age, such as Carnegie and Rockefeller, Hershey stands out because he was fair and generous to his workforce. He donated his great wealth to a charity home for disadvantaged children in Hershey, Pennsylvania, the town he built alongside his enormous chocolate factory. It was basically the only idealistic, nearly utopian, town to be truly loved by workers and other inhabitants. The social and economic conditions in which he founded the factory and the town, and ran it as a sort of benevolent dictator for close to 50 years make very interesting reading in this very readable book, which dates from 2006.
Author of this content is Mae's food blog: Maefood dot blogspot.com.
If you are reading it somewhere else, it's been stolen!