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15 Sweet Facts About Hershey’s

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Everyone knows what their favorite Hershey’s product is, but there are a few things that you might not know about Milton Hershey's company, the largest manufacturer of chocolate in North America.

1. THE HERSHEY EMPIRE IS BUILT ON A FOURTH-GRADE EDUCATION. 

The Hershey family moved around a lot when Milton was a kid, which meant that he frequently changed schools. After Hershey finished the fourth grade, his parents decided that it was time for the young man to learn a trade. He began an apprenticeship with a printer but hated it, and in 1872 he began working for a confectioner in Lancaster, Penn. 

2. MILTON HERSHEY'S FIRST LOVE WAS CARAMEL.

In 1876, Milton Hershey went to Philadelphia and used what he learned as a confectioner’s apprentice to start his first business, Crystal A. Caramels. When this venture failed, Hershey found another apprenticeship in Denver. After regrouping out West, he started a second company in New York City, which also failed. Hershey then returned home and turned his third venture, the Lancaster Caramel Company, into a global juggernaut with over 1400 employees.

3. HE BECAME INTERESTED IN CHOCOLATE AFTER THE 1893 WORLD'S FAIR.

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It wasn’t until 17 years after he opened his first failed caramel company that Hershey became interested in chocolate making. While attending the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Hershey was so taken with the display of German chocolate production that he bought the exhibit’s machinery after the exposition closed. The next year, he opened the Hershey Chocolate Company back in Lancaster. The new venture was such a success that in 1900 Hershey sold his caramel company for $1 million to devote himself to chocolate. 

4. THE COMPANY ONCE MADE GUM.

Milton Hershey wasn’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with rival companies. When he believed that Beech Nut Gum was going to start making chocolate to put him out of business, he put his cousin Clayton Snavely in charge of buying the equipment and gathering the know-how to get his company’s gum off the ground. Hershey’s “Easy Chew” was introduced in 1915, but Hershey had trouble getting sugar and chicle (a natural gum) due to import restrictions placed on non-essential products. Easy Chew last appeared on store shelves in 1924.

5. NO ONE KNOWS HOW KISSES GOT THEIR NAME—NOT EVEN THE COMPANY.

The Hershey Food Corporation still holds the trademark for “KISSES,” which hit the market in 1907, but don’t ask it what the name means—Milton Hershey took that secret to his grave. “A popular theory is that the candy was named for the sound or motion of the chocolate being deposited during manufacturing,” reads the timeline on the official KISSES website

6. HERSHEY'S KISSES USED TO BE WRAPPED BY HAND.

The machines that wrap the individual bell-shaped chocolates in foil with their signature plumes weren't developed until 1921, 14 years after the sweets were introduced. 

7. THE TOWN OF HERSHEY WAS BUILT FOR THE EMPLOYEES OF THE FACTORY.

As a successful business owner with a lot of workers, Milton Hershey believed that in order for his company to thrive, his employees had to be happy. He designed and built the model town to be a community, with brick houses and lawns, and also established what is now Hersheypark so that the families would have a place for recreation.

8. THE COMPANY'S LOGO USED TO BE A BABY INSIDE A COCOA BEAN.

For seven decades, the image that chocolate lovers associated with Hershey’s was the “Cocoa Bean Baby.” Introduced in 1898, the tot would appear on packaging and in advertisements, until the company became the Hershey Food Corporation in 1968. 

9. THE TITANIC ALMOST SANK THE COMPANY.

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Hershey and his wife, Kitty, had tickets to board the Titanic on its maiden voyage, but something made them return home instead. There are two versions of the history floating around: Either Kitty was sick, or Milton had business that kept him at home. Either way, the ship left the docks without them, and we all know how that ended. 

10. THE NAME “MR. GOODBAR” WAS A MISUNDERSTANDING.

Rhiannon, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

As plant chemist (and later President) Samuel Hinkle later recounted, the company was looking to add a peanut product to their line in the 1920s. While executives were thinking of a name, someone said that the new product was “a good bar.” Milton Hershey was hard of hearing and thought that the exec had said “Mr. Goodbar.” He liked the name, so it stuck.

11. HERSHEY'S CHOCOLATE IS PART OF UNITED STATES MILITARY HISTORY.

mhiguera, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

In 1937, the chocolate maker met with representatives from the U.S. Army and began experimenting with ration bars that could withstand combat conditions and would taste “a little better than a boiled potato” so troops wouldn’t be tempted to prematurely wolf them down. The Field Ration D bars weren’t a hit with soldiers, but they met the government’s specifications. Between 1941 and 1945, Hershey produced over one billion of the bars. 

12. HEAT-RESISTANT HERSHEY'S CHOCOLATE HAS BEEN TO THE MOON.

Mike Barry, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

After the success of the Ration D bar, Hershey worked with the military again to create a heat-resistant “Hershey's Tropical Chocolate Bar.” The bars lasted up to an hour in 120 degree temperatures, and were given to hungry soldiers entering warmer climates. In 1971, the bars were given to astronauts aboard Apollo 15.

13. THERE IS A KISS HIDDEN IN THE HERSHEY'S KISSES LOGO.

If you saw our list of “11 More Hidden Messages in Company Logos,” then you know this already. There is absolutely a sideways KISS hiding between the “K” and “I” in KISSES. Now you’ll never be able to unsee it. 

14. THE COMPANY HOLDS THE GUINNESS WORLD RECORD FOR THE “WORLD'S LARGEST PIECE OF CHOCOLATE.”

As a part of their 100th anniversary celebration for the treat in 2007, Hershey’s made a giant KISS that weighed over 30,000 pounds. It took a team of 152 people nine days to construct the 12-foot-tall sculpture and wrap it in over 16,000 feet of foil. 

15. Hershey is the largest buyer of almonds in North America. 

Rhiannon, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

With products like Almond Joy, Hershey’s Nuggets, Hershey’s Pieces with Almonds, and Hershey’s Kisses White Chocolate with almonds, the company keeps California’s almond planters plenty busy.

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Animals
Why Tiny 'Hedgehog Highways' Are Popping Up Around London
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Hedgehogs as pets have gained popularity in recent years, but in many parts of the world, they're still wild animals. That includes London, where close to a million of the creatures roam streets, parks, and gardens, seeking out wood and vegetation to take refuge in. Now, Atlas Obscura reports that animal activists are transforming the city into a more hospitable environment for hedgehogs.

Barnes Hedgehogs, a group founded by Michel Birkenwald in the London neighborhood of Barnes four years ago, is responsible for drilling tiny "hedgehog highways" through walls around London. The passages are just wide enough for the animals to climb through, making it easier for them to travel from one green space to the next.

London's wild hedgehog population has seen a sharp decline in recent decades. Though it's hard to pin down accurate numbers for the elusive animals, surveys have shown that the British population has dwindled by tens of millions since the 1950s. This is due to factors like human development and habitat destruction by farmers who aren't fond of the unattractive shrubs, hedges, and dead wood that hedgehogs use as their homes.

When such environments are left to grow, they can still be hard for hedgehogs to access. Carving hedgehog highways through the stone partitions and wooden fences bordering parks and gardens is one way Barnes Hedgehogs is making life in the big city a little easier for its most prickly residents.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?
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Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


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Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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