Friday, February 12, 2010

Chocolate Friday - Chocolate for the Masses!


How appropriate that I came to this part of chocolate history right before Valentine's Day. :)

Chocolate for the Masses

The Industrial Revolution helped to make chocolate more affordable than ever. Now it was possible to grind massive quantities of cacao beans with steam-powered grinders and using hydraulic pressers to separate cocoa butter from cocoa powder was much more efficient than making chocolate by hand...and the cost savings were passed on to the consumer.

The invention of chocolate that could be eaten created a huge demand for cocoa butter, which caused the price to go through the roof, and made chocolate bars expensive. Anyone could afford to drink chocolate, but if you wanted to eat it, you had to be wealthy.

Then in 1893, Milton Snavely Hershey, owner of the world's largest caramel factory, visited the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago and saw a demonstration of chocolate-making machinery given by Lehmann and Company, a German chocolate maker. Hershey was so impressed by what he saw that when the exhibition closed he bought the machinery and began making chocolate-coated caramels. "Caramels are only a fad," he told anyone who would listen, "chocolate is a permanent thing." (I guess he knew what he was talking about, dontcha think?)

In 1900 he sold his caramel company so that he could focus exclusively on chocolate, and he went about manufacturing it the same way that he'd become the king of caramel - he built the largest chocolate factory on the face of the earth. (I'd love to visit!)

Hershey then applied the principles of mass production to the manufacture of chocolate - he built his factory on 1,200 acres of Pennsylvania dairyland, and then bought up thousands more acres - until he owned enough dairy farms to supply his factory with fresh milk. He built an entire town, Hershey, Pennsylivania, to give his workers someplace to live, as well as another - Hershey, Cuba - near his sugar mill in the Caribbean.

Hershey manufactured his chocolate bars and Hershey's kisses on such an enormous scale - as much as 100,000 pounds of chocolate a day - that he was able to realize huge cost savings, which he passed on to the consumer. He priced his Hershey bars at just a nickel a piece, and they sold at that price until 1969. And rather than settle for selling his chocolate regionally, as other American chocolate companies did at the time, he set his sights on selling his products throughout the United States. He also expanded his sales beyond the traditional outlets of candy stores and drugstores, selling his chocolate bars at newsstands, in grocery stores, at bus stations, even in restaurants. Soon, his candy bars were everywhere.

~ taken from Uncle John's Supremely Satisfying Bathroom Reader

I can't begin to list the numerous chocolate products that you can purchase from Hershey's. The chocolate chips, the candy kisses (and hugs), the large variety of candy bars (including M&Ms), the baking cocoa, the syrup. Whew - a person can get a chocolate fix just reading about it.

So tell me; what is your favorite Hershey product? I think mine (if I had to choose) would be this:

Or possibly this:

Yeah, dark chocolate is my favorite kind of chocolate. The Kisses, I think, would last longer than the bar. Individually wrapped and all.

I also found a yummy looking recipe on their website. I'm planning to try Valentine Message Brownies this weekend. Sounds and looks very delicious! Go check out their website for lots of chocolate recipes. This is definitely the weekend to indulge!!

Also, go visit Lisa (if you didn't come from there), to see what she has this week. I know it's something good.

Until next time...


He & Me + 3 said...

Reese's peanut butter cups are definitely my favorite Hershey product. YUM.

Diane said...

I'm a dark chocolate kind of gal too. :O) Have a great weekend!

Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates said...

Loved hearing that - yay for Hershey! fave Hershey product just might be the cocoa 'cause I bake with it so much! :) Thanks for linking up Jen!

Melissa said...

Thanks for sharing this!

I like most, if not all, of the Hershey's products. Reese's peanut butter cups have to be at the top of the list, though.

When you take the factory tour ride at Chocolate World, it smells like chocolate! (In fact, if you're anywhere in the area, you can smell chocolate from the factory.) And at the end of the tour, you get a free Hershey bar. Yum.