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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

October 13, 1945

I hope that everyone had a nice holiday yesterday.  Whether you were celebrating Thanksgiving or Columbus Day, I hope you did it in style.

Alas, it's back to business, and with that, I have another Tuesday Timeline entry for all of you to enjoy. 

Today is October 13, and I've picked out a subject that could be considered a real "sweetheart" in the world of confections.  But before I get into further detail, I have some other odds and ends to take care of first.

We'll start with world history and all of the events that took place on this date.

1773 - Charles Messier discovers The Whirlpool Galaxy

1792 - The cornerstone of the building that would come to be known as The White House is laid

1812 - The Battle of Queenston Heights takes place, which sees the death of Isaac Brock

1885 - Georgia Tech is founded

1892 - Edmund Emerson Barnard discovers Comet D/1892 T1 - the first to be discovered via photographic means

1914 - The first World Series sweep takes place when the Boston Braves defeat the Philadelphia Athletics four games to zero

1917 - In Fatima, Portugal, the "Miracle of the Sun" is witnessed by 70,000 people

1925 - Comedian Lenny Bruce (d. 1966) is born in Mineola, New York; Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (d. 2013) is born the same day

1943 - The new Italian government declares war on Germany during World War II

1958 - Paddington Bear makes his debut

1968 - Actress Bea Benaderet passes away at the age of 62

1970 - Fiji joins the United Nations

1974 - American television show host Ed Sullivan dies at the age of 73

1983 - Ameritech Mobile Communications launch the first cellular network in Chicago

1990 - The Lebanese Civil War ends

2009 - Singer/actor Al Martino dies at the age of 82

And for celebrity birthdays, we have quite the list to present!  Join me in sending birthday wishes to Terry Gibbs, Nana Mouskouri, "Cousin Brucie" Morrow, Melinda Dillon, Paul Simon, Pamela Tiffin, Mike Barnicle, Robert Lamm, Susan Stafford, Demond Wilson, Susan Blommaert, Sammy Hagar, John Ford Coley, Rick Vito, Beverly Johnson, Chris Carter, Reggie Theus, Marie Osmond, T'Keyah Crystal Keymah, Kelly Preston, Jerry Rice, Christopher Judge, Kate Walsh, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Nancy Kerrigan, Cady McClain, Sacha Baron Cohen, Billy Bush, Summer Sanders, Kiele Sanchez, Ashanti, Ian Thorpe, and Aaron Dismuke.

All right, so let us see what date we'll be visiting this week?

How about we go back seven decades to October 13, 1945?  That sounds like a good date.  And, I have a story to tell you in regards to this date.

(No, I wasn't around in '45.  Actually, none of my immediate family was.  My mom was born exactly three weeks after this date.)

You know, Halloween is right around the corner, and I would imagine that most of you are thinking about what kind of candy you will be handing out to trick-or-treaters in your neighbourhood.  I know that at my house I'll be handing out candy - well, provided I don't work Halloween night, that is.

I don't exactly know what treats I'll be settling on yet, but I do know that when I was a kid, I knew which ones I ate first!  If I saw anything in a brown wrapper with the Hershey's logo on it, you know that they were the first to disappear.  It didn't just have to end with the classic Hershey bar either.  I liked Hershey's Cookies and Creme, and Hershey's Caramel, and the short lived Hershey's Cookies and Mint candy bar.  I loved Hershey's Kisses every holiday.  I still even remember taking a field trip in first grade to the Hershey's Chocolate Factory which was at that time located in a town close to where I live.

I say, USED to.  It closed up shop, relocated to Mexico, and turned the town into a ghost town.

But while I don't agree with that decision at all, you can't really blame the person who made the Hershey name a brand.  It was on this date seventy years ago that the man who brought us Hershey chocolate died at the age of 88.  But you have to admit that for many years, he was the chocolate king.  His empire was one of the sweetest to ever grace the business world.  He made the brand so recognizable that an amusement park opened up in the state of Pennsylvania as what could be considered a permanent memorial to the cocoa guru.

Yes, today we celebrate the life of the founder of the Hershey Chocolate Company, Milton S. Hershey.

Born in Derry Township, Pennsylvania on September 13, 1857, Milton Snavely Hershey was born in a Mennonite community and because of his upbringing, he was forced to do chores on the family farm.  Although his education stopped after the fourth grade, Hershey did learn the value of hard work and determination from his family.

When Hershey was fourteen, he was given a chance to be the apprentice of Joseph Royer, a man who made his living creating different confections, and over the next four years, Hershey fine tuned his craft at making delicious candies.

He opened up his first confection business in 1876, and managed to make it last for six years before bankruptcy closed the doors on that business.  Hershey set out to make a new life for himself in Denver and while he was there he learned how to make caramels using fresh milk.  He tried setting up shop in several other cities, but when those businesses went south, he returned to Pennsylvania.

However, his knowledge and craft of creating the perfect caramel back in Denver would help Hershey set up the Lancaster Caramel Company in 1886.  The business took off almost immediately and people came from all around just to sample some of Hershey's caramels.  And a few years after setting up his candy company, he met and fell in love with Catherine "Kitty" Sweeney, whom he married in 1898.

By the turn of the century though, Hershey had decided that he wanted to do more than sell caramels, and in 1900, he sold the Lancaster Caramel Company and used the money from the sale to start up a new type of business.  One that he was sure would be a success.

His plan was to purchase several acres of farmland close to his birthplace of Derry Church to open up a chocolate company.  The reason for the location choice?  Hershey wanted to be close to an area that had a lot of dairy farms.  You see, back in the early 1900s, milk chocolate was incredibly hard to find, and Hershey wanted to come up with a formula that made milk chocolate not only easier to produce, but more affordable towards the general public.

It took him some time to get the formula perfectly balanced, but he did so by 1900.  That was the same year that the iconic Hershey's Chocolate Bar first went on sale.  He started construction on his factory in 1903, and came up with two more iconic products by the end of the decade - Hershey's Kisses were first created in 1907, and the Hershey Bar with Almonds followed suit one year later.

Of course, Hershey's formula for the milk chocolate was greatly influenced by his temporary residence in Denver, where he learned that mixing milk with caramel made them even creamier and delectable.

Now, when Hershey started his candy company in the early 1900s, I don't even know if he knew just how big it would grow.  Today, it is one of the most recognizable names in the candy industry.  And although the original Hershey Chocolate Factory was closed up and demolished in 2012, the company has a permanent landmark with an entire town in Pennsylvania named after the chocolate maker, as well as an amusement park, Hersheypark, which has been operational since 1906!

Hershey is also a parent company of the H.B. Reese Candy Company, whom you might recognize as the company that brought us those incredibly addictive Reese Peanut Butter Cups.  So, you see folks?  Next time you eat a peanut butter cup, thank Milton S. Hershey for making it a reality!

I should also note that while he was alive, Hershey really did do a lot of philanthropy work as well.  It was his company that started up Elizabethtown College's honors program.  He established the M.S. Hershey Foundation which provided educational and cultural opportunities for people in the Hershey area.  And during World War II, he provided millions of candy bars for soldiers who were fighting during the war.  In fact, he perfected a special formula for the bars so that they would not melt in humid conditions - a practice that was inevitably used for future chocolate treats.

And while today marks the day that Milton S. Hershey's journey ended, I should mention that had it not been for fate, his journey would have ended a lot earlier.

You see, Milton S. Hershey and his wife were originally supposed to be guests on a luxury ocean liner that was set to depart from Southampton, England and arrive in New York City.  Perhaps you may know the name of that ocean liner.  I believe they called it the Titanic.  Fortunately, Hershey had a conflict with his schedule and canceled his reservation on the doomed ship. 

So, that ends our Tuesday Timeline feature.  I do hope you enjoyed this sweet treat.  In fact, I may just grab a Hershey bar today in honour of his memory.

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