Imagine a boy, born to the rural lands of Pennsylvania. With little formal education, he did what any teenager in his situation would do – he took up an apprenticeship. But the print business was not his forte and he was quickly fired. So he took up another apprenticeship – this time under the watchful eye of a candy maker. Four years he studied his craft. Even then he must have shown promise, for his mother’s family financed a venture all his own – a Pennsylvania candy company. For six long years he worked at the business, but to no avail. Forced to close, he moved out west to Denver. There he took a position with a confectioner specializing in fresh milk caramels. Before long he had moved to New York City, where he opened another candy store. It failed too. So off to Chicago he set, where he opened yet another candy company, only to find it a failure as well.
You know what they say, third time’s a charm. But what happens when it’s not so much? What happens when everything you put your hand to fails; when friends and family begin to question your ability? I mean, let’s be serious. After awhile it gets a bit embarrassing. Not to mention discouraging. Do you give up?
Not Milton Hershey. Milton S. Hershey forged ahead. He may have been nearing thirty, and nearly bankrupt, but that didn’t stop him. With four losses under his belt, he tried once more for a win. Returning to Lancaster, he opened the Lancaster Caramel Company. This time he struck gold. His fifth business was so successful, in 1900 he was able to sell it for a whopping one-million dollars. All so he could focus on his true passion – chocolate. Three years later he returned to the place of his birth to open a new chocolate factory. And the rest, as they say, is history …
So next time we go to drown our defeat in a large vat of Hershey’s chocolate, let us think of the man behind the bar. A man who refused to let his dream die, despite one setback after another. A man who learned from trial and error so that every man might be able to enjoy the smooth, creamy goodness of milk chocolate. A man who used his wealth to build a thriving town, all because he believed his employees deserved better. A man who thought up the “Great building compaign” to add beauty – and countless jobs – during The Great Depression. A man who, though no children of his own, left an ever-growing legacy through schools and educational grants. A man who proves to us still today, that hard work and perseverance have a funny way of turning life’s bitter disappointments to sweet success.