The food products that bear Milton S. Hershey's name represent an ongoing dedication to quality and value -- a commitment established by Hershey Foods' unique founder.

In the early 1900s, Milton Hershey made one of the great American fortunes through dogged persistence and the courage to pursue a dream. Though he was modest and unassuming in appearance, Mr. Hershey was a shrewd and determined businessman. He had a genius for timing and an instinctive ability to choose loyal and able people to help him.

The early years of Milton Hershey instilled in him the value of hard work. He was born on September 13, 1857, in a farmhouse near the Central Pennsylvania village of Derry Church. He was a descendant of people who had come to Pennsylvania from Switzerland and Germany in the 1700s. Raised as a Mennonite, he attended school only through the fourth grade before his father, Henry Hershey, put him to work as a printer's apprentice in Gap, PA.

When it became apparent his talents did not lie in printing, he went on to become an apprentice to a Lancaster, PA, candy-maker and, in 1876 at the age of 18, opened his own candy shop in Philadelphia. The business failed after six years. The next stop was Denver, Colorado, where he accepted a job with a local caramel manufacturer. There, he learned that superior results could be achieved when fresh milk was used in the caramel-making process.

Mr. Hershey moved on to Chicago in 1883, then to New Orleans and later to New York City -- attempting to establish his own candy business in each location. He returned to Lancaster, PA, in 1886, where, after raising the necessary capital, he began the business which established his reputation as a candy-maker -- the Lancaster Caramel Company.