After work on Thursday, Reed and I hopped in the car and drove about 7 hours over to Hershey, PA! We were ready for some much needed rest and relaxation! And what not a better place to do this at, than the chocolate capital of the US! And on top it all off, February is chocolate month in Hershey! We were very excited for our trip!
We stayed at a Best Western Inn right in Hershey, so we were very close to all the excitement. We didn't arrive till a little after 10 pm on Thursday, so needless to say, we waited till Friday for all of the fun.
Friday morning started off great with chocolate waffles for breakfast along with some yummy hot chocolate! It was a great way to start our day! We then ventured off to Chocolate World!
Right away, we asked a lady at guest services, what the three best things to do in Chocolate World were. We wanted to hear some expert advice, so we didn't waste any time in our short stay. She told us that the three best things to do were the Factory Tour, Trolley Ride and Chocolate Taste Testing 101.
So, that's exactly what we did! It was such a great day! Reed and I had such a great time!
We first went on the Factory Tour where we learned how the chocolate was made and packaged up, depending on the type of candy. We got onto this ride that had an audio tour of the whole experience.
We then headed over for the hour long Trolley Ride! This was by far my favorite part! They took us on a tour of Hershey and explained many important facts about Milton Hershey's life and about his wife, Catherine. They were such amazing people! Reed and I couldn't believe all of the things they did in their life time and how generous they were.
This is the home Milton Hershey grew up in, well, at least part of it. He bought it back after being away from it for years and added on to it.
Mansion that Milton and Catherine Hershey lived in.
Because they couldn't have children, they started a trade school for under privileged boys. They wanted the boys to learn a trade and also have a strong spiritual upbringing. They built homes for the boys to live in and hired couples to be house parents. Hershey covered all of their bills including health needs, food, clothing, schooling, even fun activities they did. He paid for everything. Families didn't have to pay a cent!
Part of the HUGE school. This third picture is of part of the Founder's Building. It is so big that my camera couldn't begin to get it all in one picture. It is the second biggest unsupported dome building in the world. It was made of all marble and limestone and was probably one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever been in! These pictures do not give it justice!
This statue for Hershey says, "His deeds are his memorial, His life is our inspiration". They have several like this one around town, with the same inscription.When he died (his wife also passed away to cancer, years earlier), Hershey left 100% to the trust fund of the school. Today there are 1,800 students, about half boys and half girls. The school still covers everything for these kids. When they graduate, they receive up to $76,000 to go to any school they would like in the world, along with a new wardrobe, luggage to carry their new wardrobe and a $100 bill (the $100 bill was a tradition that Hershey started). He really was a generous man! Each of the homes for the kids has over 13 bedrooms, and houses between 8 and 13 kids, along with the house parents. Some of the homes have full basketball courts and playgrounds in them. Each home costs over 1.2 million to build. One really cool thing is that each home has chocolate milk and two kinds of regular milk ON TAP!
He did many other things, like build incredible homes for his employees and sold the homes to them for $1. He really took care of people in the town! It is easy to see how his name is so treasured!
Every time you buy a Hershey's product, you help these underprivileged kids! Another reason to eat more chocolate, right?!
We learned many cool facts about Hershey along the trolley ride. Like that Hershey first made his millions in caramels! And this was after he failed and went bankrupt many times! He bought out Reese's from his friend Reese, but before he bought the company, He gave Reese all the free sugar he needed for his candy! Also, Reese's is the number one selling Hershey product, by far! It doesn't even come close to the second and third picks- kisses and chocolate bars!
Another fun fact is that Hershey patented the Hugs candy in 1907, because he knew that he would eventually want a candy to go with kisses. He died in 1948 and the Hug didn't even come out until 1990! How crazy is that!
Part of the Factory, itself. These bushes were planted in the early 1900's.
The town of Hershey is really called Derry Township. It has just been referred to Hershey because of the train station and post office that are named Hershey. It is such a beautiful town! There are many flower gardens around town because Hershey's wife Catherine loved flowers so much! There is also a tree garden where every year, they plant a tree to remember alumni from the Hershey school that have passed away. It is a very beautiful park!
I could talk about so many other things that we learned from this trip! It was so encouraging and really fun!
When we finished the trolley ride, we headed over to the taste testing! This was Reed's favorite part of the trip!
We learned how to taste different types of chocolate and figure out about how much Cacao is in each chocolate.
We also learned about the Cacao trees and their beans. It was very interesting! Did you know that the Cacao tree has very shallow roots, so it picks up flavors from all of it's surroundings? Hershey uses an average of 28 different types of beans from different places in the world to blend flavors. They also have a few special blends that they make where they choose specific beans they want, to bring out a specific flavor. This was very evident when we tried Hershey's dark chocolate Bliss. It is a dark chocolate, but because they chose beans from trees that were around citrus and flowers, it doesn't have the bitter after-taste that many dark chocolates have. It was very yummy! They also stir this chocolate for 76 hours, so it is very creamy, even though it doesn't have lots of milk and sugar in it.
After going to Chocolate World, Reed and I drove around the town a bit and came across an outlet mall. We had fun shopping before dinner, buying ourselves a few things along the way(we bought things for spring- wishing the snow would go away!).
For dinner, we went to the Hershey Lodge and ate at one of their nice restaurants called the Hershey Grill! It was a lot of fun! The food was a bit pricey for how good it was, but it was still a fun experience. Our waitress's name was Ann and she had hair like little orphan Annie, although she was old enough to be our mom.
The next day we were able to sleep in, which is always so nice to do during vacation. We spent some more time wandering around Hershey before heading back to reality! If you haven't been, we would really recommend this trip! They also have two amusement parks (one with big rides and one with little kid things), museums and many other things to do, that we simply didn't have time for. It was such a great trip and oh so yummy!