Hershey, PennsylvaniaPosted in Where to Travel to Now
The town of Hershey in Pennsylvania is a marvel. On finding out I was visiting this well-known confectioner's hometown I didn't know what to expect. My first thought was that there had better be 'stuff' to do there rather than just the obligatory factory tour.
Well, it turns out you can't even do a factory tour. But you don't need to because Hershey has got it going on. Yes, okay, it is a town that focuses very much on the Hershey legacy. But even if you aren't a chocolate fan you'll love Hershey.
The town is pretty but small and you can drive through it in about 15 minutes. Near the edge of town is the Hershey Park theme park, that has a boardwalk to hark after the traditional east cost seaside town boardwalks. There’s also a fair few thrills and speeds in terms of rollercoasters and the place was buzzing with the news that the latest ride had just opened.
The other side of the theme park is an arena that hosts the great and the good. We heard that Bruce Springsteen had recently played a night there and when we left Dave Matthews was gearing up for a concert that night.
Pic: Make your own Hershey bar
In downtown Hershey a few restaurants are situated and we dined at Devons fish restaurant one night (review to follow). It was downtown where we experienced the Hershey Story Museum. This tells the story of Milton Hershey’s bankruptcy and rise to prominence in a little corner of Pennsylvania. Thanks to the proximity of a fair few dairy farms, Hershey got his little chocolate empire off the ground and we now get Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Hershey’s Cookies n Crème from his hard graft.
On display was the cheque he wrote to White Star Line for a first class cabin onboard The Titanic. Good job he cancelled his reservation at the last minute but the cheque draws a crowd.
We then went on to Hershey’s Chocolate World where we experienced an old fashioned road trolley ride of the area with bells and whistles and a bit of cringe-worthy singing, before heading back to make our own candy bar.
I opted for a white chocolate base, pretzel pieces and raspberries from the selection available to choose and watched my concoction doing the rounds in the mini-factory set up to entertain the masses. At the end my bar came out wrapped in a design I made up on the design computers and made my hubby pretty happy.
We then took a mini ride around Chocolate World and in a bit of Disney-esque connotations watched some singing cows tell us how chocolate is made. It’s the conching (the mixing for 72 hours) that gives Hershey chocolate its uniqueness.
For the only non-chocolate related parts of Hershey, Pennsylvania head to the Tanger outlet mall, which is a discount centre housing Ralph Lauren, Yankee Candle, Coach, Guess and many more.
If all the chocolate gets a bit too much the Milton Hershey School is an ‘attraction’ that made me cry due to its amazingly well-rounded approach to charity. No story here could ever do it justice but essentially the school, set up by Milton Hershey after he donated his entire $16m fortune to the school, provides fully paid for care, board, clothing and food for the neediest of the needy children across America. Tours are run to encourage people to recommend the school to their pastor or reverend in the hope they find children who are in deprived circumstances and recommend their admission to the school.
Pic: Milton Hershey and a pupil at the school.
The school gives the children a home if they don’t have one and an excellent education that private schools would be jealous off. Children leave the school with either a trade ready to be apprenticed in to or a place at university. The Milton Hershey School pays for the university place.
It is a truly humbling place to visit and our tour guide Harry used to be a pupil at the school. His first hand experiences and genuine love for the school were remarkable.
Written by Lorna Strickland-Cook