The success story of Milton Hershey, Hershey chocolate, the story of Hershey chocolste


The story of the founder of Hershey Chocolate, Milton S. Hershey, is a remarkable tale of perseverance, innovation, and philanthropy.

Early Life and Struggles

Milton Snavely Hershey was born on September 13, 1857, in Derry Township, Pennsylvania. He grew up in a Mennonite family, and his early life was marked by instability and frequent relocations due to his father's entrepreneurial but often unsuccessful ventures. Despite the challenges, Milton showed an early interest in the candy business.

The Beginnings of a Career

At the age of 14, Milton Hershey began an apprenticeship with a Lancaster, Pennsylvania, candy maker named Joseph Royer. This experience was foundational, and after completing his apprenticeship, Milton attempted to start his own candy businesses. His first two ventures, one in Philadelphia and another in New York City, both failed, leaving him nearly bankrupt.

Success in Lancaster Caramel Company

Undeterred by his previous failures, Hershey returned to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and started the Lancaster Caramel Company in 1886. This time, he found success by using fresh milk to create caramels, which gave them a unique, superior quality compared to other caramels on the market. The Lancaster Caramel Company thrived, and by the late 1890s, Hershey had become a wealthy man.

Transition to Chocolate

Inspired by the potential he saw in chocolate, which was gaining popularity in Europe, Milton Hershey decided to sell his caramel company for $1 million in 1900 to focus entirely on chocolate. He then began experimenting with ways to mass-produce milk chocolate, a delicacy that had previously been a luxury item.

Founding of Hershey Chocolate Company

In 1903, Hershey started construction on what would become the world's largest chocolate manufacturing plant in Derry Township, near his birthplace. The factory began production in 1905. Hershey's method of using fresh milk to make milk chocolate resulted in a product that was not only delicious but also affordable. This breakthrough allowed Hershey to introduce milk chocolate to the masses, quickly making it a popular treat in the United States.

The Model Town of Hershey

Milton Hershey's vision extended beyond his chocolate factory. He sought to create a model community for his employees, which led to the establishment of the town of Hershey, Pennsylvania. The town featured comfortable homes, an inexpensive public transportation system, quality public schools, and a plethora of recreational opportunities, including parks, a zoo, and a sports arena.

Philanthropy and Legacy

Milton Hershey's philanthropic efforts are perhaps as famous as his business achievements. In 1909, he and his wife, Catherine, founded the Hershey Industrial School, now known as the Milton Hershey School, for orphaned boys. The school's endowment was funded with the vast majority of Hershey's fortune, ensuring its longevity and impact.

Milton Hershey passed away on October 13, 1945. His legacy lives on not only through the ubiquitous Hershey's chocolate but also through his contributions to education and community development.

To summarize it all, Milton S. Hershey's journey from a struggling entrepreneur to the founder of a chocolate empire is a story of innovation, determination, and generosity. His impact on the confectionery industry and his philanthropic endeavors have left an indelible mark on American society.

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Milton Hershey's first two ventures failed due to a combination of inexperience, financial difficulties, and market challenges. Here's a detailed look at the reasons behind the failures and how they unfolded:

First Venture: Philadelphia Candy Business

Why It Failed:

  1. Lack of Experience: Hershey started his first candy business in Philadelphia in 1876 when he was only 18 years old. His lack of business experience and understanding of the market played a significant role in the failure.
  2. Financial Instability: Hershey struggled with cash flow and was unable to secure sufficient funding to keep the business afloat. The financial strain was exacerbated by his reliance on credit, which led to accumulating debt.
  3. Market Competition: Philadelphia was a highly competitive market for confectionery products. Hershey's business couldn't compete effectively against more established candy makers.
  4. Operational Challenges: Hershey faced difficulties in managing the day-to-day operations of the business, from sourcing ingredients to production and sales.

How It Failed:

After six years of struggling to make a profit, Hershey's Philadelphia candy business collapsed in 1882, leaving him nearly bankrupt and forced to close the business.

Second Venture: New York City Candy Business

Why It Failed:

  1. Repetition of Mistakes: Despite learning some lessons from his first failure, Hershey repeated several mistakes, including underestimating the financial and operational challenges.
  2. High Costs: Operating in New York City came with high overhead costs, including rent and wages, which Hershey found difficult to manage with limited capital.
  3. Limited Market Penetration: Hershey's New York business struggled to gain a foothold in the market. He found it challenging to attract and retain customers in a city filled with numerous confectionery options.
  4. Inadequate Business Plan: Hershey's business plan lacked the strategic foresight needed to succeed in a highly competitive and expensive market like New York.

How It Failed:

Hershey's New York City venture lasted only three years. By 1886, he was again out of business, deeply in debt, and forced to return to Pennsylvania.

Lessons Learned and Path to Success

Despite these early failures, Milton Hershey learned valuable lessons that contributed to his later success:

  • Importance of Quality: Hershey realized that product quality was crucial. This lesson later influenced his success with the Lancaster Caramel Company, where he used fresh milk to improve the quality of his caramels.
  • Need for Capital: He understood the importance of sufficient capital to sustain business operations and manage growth.
  • Market Research: Hershey learned the importance of understanding the market and customer preferences, which helped him when he decided to venture into milk chocolate production.
  • Resilience and Innovation: Hershey's perseverance and willingness to innovate eventually led him to develop the formula for mass-producing affordable milk chocolate.

Milton Hershey's early business failures were stepping stones that paved the way for his later monumental success with the Hershey Chocolate Company.


Milton Hershey's journey from repeated failures to remarkable success offers several valuable lessons for modern startup entrepreneurs. Here are some key takeaways:

1. Learn from Failures

  • Embrace Failure as a Learning Opportunity: Hershey's early failures taught him critical lessons that he applied to his later ventures. Modern entrepreneurs should analyze their failures to understand what went wrong and how to improve. Failure is part of your success journey. Have an entrepreneurial mindset.

2. Understand the Market

  • Conduct Thorough Market Research: Hershey's initial businesses failed partly due to a lack of understanding of the competitive landscape. Entrepreneurs should invest time in researching their market, understanding customer needs, and identifying gaps that their products or services can fill.Easy ways to conduct market research is by: Market research, gathering feedback from customers, online survey and questionnaire, social media listening, competitors analysis (spy on your competitors)......

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3. Importance of Quality

  • Prioritize Product Quality: Hershey's success with the Lancaster Caramel Company stemmed from the high quality of his caramels. Ensuring that your product or service stands out in quality can help build a loyal customer base. Use the best raw materials and try to tell customers the differences between fake and real.Tell customers the advantages of using real and quality raw materials and disadvantages of using fake. Tell them the fake or point our bad raw materials and educate them why they shouldn’t use it.

4. Financial Management

  • Secure Adequate Funding: Hershey struggled with financial instability in his early ventures. Modern entrepreneurs should ensure they have sufficient capital to sustain their business through initial growth phases and unexpected challenges.
  • Manage Cash Flow Wisely: Keeping a close eye on cash flow and having a solid financial plan can prevent businesses from running into liquidity problems.

It is difficult to run a business without money, save enough to sponsor your business during the prime stage , or when the business is still small, keep a job while growing your customer base. Only get a loan when you have a good customer base so you can easily repay the loan. You can also set up your business in such a way that customers will place their order, pay a deposit, you make their order and they complete the payment

5. Adapt and Innovate

  • Be Willing to Pivot: Hershey's shift from caramels to chocolate was a strategic pivot that led to his ultimate success. Entrepreneurs should be open to pivoting their business model or product offering based on market feedback and opportunities. Entrepreneurs should have an open business mind, follow business trends and market. A Lot of businesses pivoted during the pandemic and made millions. Those were smart entrepreneurs who understood the business. Even after the pandemic many are pivoting.
  • Invest in Innovation: Hershey's development of a method to mass-produce milk chocolate was a key innovation. Continuous improvement and innovation can help businesses stay competitive and meet evolving customer demands. Follow the latest innovation in your industry and try to get it for your business. As an entrepreneur focus on entrepreneurial trends, tips, news and so on, so you get first hand of every thing going on in your industry.

6. Perseverance and Resilience

  • Stay Persistent: Hershey’s story is a testament to the power of perseverance. Entrepreneurs will face setbacks, but maintaining resilience and staying committed to their vision is crucial for long-term success. Some people fail once and give up. To me, they were not meant to be entrepreneurs. Bear in mind, if it were that easy, everyone would do it.

7. Build a Strong Team

  • Surround Yourself with Talent: Success often requires a team effort. Hershey’s eventual success was supported by a skilled and dedicated team. Entrepreneurs should focus on building a strong, capable team that shares their vision.

8. Create a Positive Culture

  • Focus on Employee Welfare: Hershey built a model community for his employees, which boosted morale and loyalty. Entrepreneurs should aim to create a positive, supportive work environment to attract and retain top talent. Appreciate your workers, there are so many ways to do that.We have a complete article on that.

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9. Philanthropy and Corporate Social Responsibility

  • Give Back to the Community: Hershey’s legacy includes significant philanthropic contributions. Modern entrepreneurs should consider how their businesses can positively impact society, which can also enhance their brand reputation.I always encourage entrepreneurs to support a cause. Supporting a cause will bring you more business and brand awareness

10. Vision and Long-Term Planning

  • Have a Clear Vision: Hershey’s vision of making chocolate affordable for the masses guided his business decisions. Entrepreneurs should have a clear, long-term vision for their business and make strategic plans to achieve it.


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By learning from Milton Hershey’s experiences, modern startup entrepreneurs can navigate the challenges of building a business with greater wisdom and resilience.

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