The Sad Story of Hershey’s Chocolate

Of all of the food blog’s I frequent, the one that holds on to my heart is Cybele’s Candy Blog. I think she is the definition of passion mixed with intelligence, and brings forth some of the best perspectives on candy.

I was reminded of this during her recent foray into the world of Hershey’s. Her recent post called Rising Cost of Candy – A Brief Study of Hershey Prices provides exceptional insight into both the economics as well as historical context of the venerable institution.

While the icon of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate is fun to use as a benchmark, what is important to recognize is that Hershey’s doesn’t just play with the size and price of their products. They also change the manufacturing process (Hershey’s no longer roasts their own beans or processes them into chocolate liquor, they’ve subcontracted that to Barry Callebaut), alter how long products are conched and lately have even started substituting substandard ingredients. In 2006 Hershey’s began using PGPR, which is an emulsifier and extender, in some of their milk chocolate products, but it wasn’t until this year that it finally appeared in the formula for the Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar.

There’s a lot of information loaded within her post, but the core piece of information that I got out of it was as follows: Hershey’s no longer uses milk chocolate in the majority of their products.

Some of you may shrug, and others may ask “what does it matter?”, but to me, this news is the perfect example of how food companies have earned the mistrust of their consumers. But let me put it this way – Hershey’s is intentionally reducing the quality of their product in order to save money on production.

Hershey’s no longer uses milk chocolate in the majority of their products. That’s akin to saying that McDonald’s is going to get rid of the Big Mac, or that Coca-Cola is going to change their formula.

Okay, so maybe the latter is a bad example.

I recognize the fact that corporations need to make money and need to improve their stock price in order to please the holders of said stock. But now it seems that the brand of Hershey’s is far more important than the products they release. Growing up as a child in Pennsylvania, home of Hershey’s, the company represented the best ideal a child could imagine. Milton Hershey stood for, not only quality, but respecting his consumers. It’s the only food company in the United States that I am aware of that has a city named after it and lends its name to an amusement park.

I usually think it’s a bit trite to say that “if so-and-so where alive today, they wouldn’t be happy”. But in this case, I do believe that. I think that the company is far removed, not only from my idea of what they stood for when I was a child, but also what Milton Hershey stood for. And while they may show short term gain, they are do no good service for the products nor the brand long term.

At any rate, please read her post. It tells the tale of just how far Hershey’s has fallen over the course of our generation.

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