A Long Road to Sweet Success

Milton Hershey's father was a dreamer and unsuccessful entrepreneur. He tried selling equipment to oil drillers, developing a trout pond, and running a fruit farm. Because his family moved around so much, Milton stopped going to school after fourth grade. But he got used to the idea of moving around to go where the opportunities were.

Failure 1: At the age of 14, he got a job as an apprentice with a printer. He hated it and was fired when he dropped a tray of type.

Then he got a job making candy in the town of Lancaster. He enjoyed the candy business and learned all he could. After four years, he borrowed money from family and moved to start his own business.

Failure 2: At the age of 19, he started a candy business in Philadelphia. Many people were visiting the city to attend the Centennial Exposition of 1876. He made taffy and caramels and sold them from a pushcart. He stayed at it for five years, but eventually ran out of money and energy. He physically collapsed from the long days of selling and the long nights of manufacturing.

His father invited him to participate in ventures out west in Denver. But there was a recession, so he found a job working for a confectioner, where he learned how to make caramel candy with milk. He moved to Chicago and New Orleans to see if he could start again.

Failure 3: At the age of 26, he tried again in New York City. He had some initial success and invested in better equipment. But when sales did not climb, he ran out of money.

He returned to Lancaster, where most family shunned him as a bad investment. But one friend helped him, and he started the Lancaster Caramel Company.

Success 1: Between the ages of 29 and 43, he became famous for his "melt in your mouth" caramel candy made with fresh milk. He earned a lot of money and became a leading citizen of the growing city.

Success 2: At the age of 43, he sold his company for $1 million. He bought a lot of farmland near where he grew up. He built a factory. He built a town. And he donated most of his ownership in the Hershey Chocolate Company to a school for orphans so they could get the kind of education he never did.


Milton Hershey