Monday, October 25, 2010

Goodbye to the Heart of Hershey, PA

Photo by mhiguera

There are so many national treasures that we haven’t seen yet. Someday we’ll make it to Mount Rushmore. Inevitably we’ll pull over to check out the world’s largest ball of twine. And, one of these days, we swear we’re going to take that ferry and walk all the way to the top of Lady Liberty’s crown.

Sadly, we’re going to have to cross one item off of our pop culture to do list without having been able to experience it. Despite our deep passion for chocolate, and our love of a good “making of” tour, we are never going to be able to walk the floor at Milton Hershey’s place in Pennsylvania.

Granted, tourists haven’t been allowed to actually tour the original facility for some time—now the famous smokestacks are spotted from the monorail. Instead, they can visit Hershey’s Chocolate World nearby, take a simulation ride of the candy making process, play with packaging, and ride an old fashioned trolley. But once upon a time, families could go to the town of Hershey and actually see their favorite chocolate bars made right before their eyes.

Milton knew not only how to please the fans, but the best way to keep his employees happy, too. He even built them their own amusement center in 1907, Hersheypark, which later opened to the public and has expanded to over 60 rides. Locals and visitors could enjoy a fun filled day under the nearby stacks of the Hershey Factory at the corner of Cocoa and Chocolate avenues.

But things are a little less joyful there these days. The old manufacturing plant is closing and a new state-of-the-art chocolate making facility will open on the outskirts of town. 500 employees will lose their jobs to modern technology. And Chocolatetown, USA just won’t smell as sweet.

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