Welcome to Hershey, Pennsylvania, home of the world’s largest chocolate factory. This is where HERSHEY makes its famous chocolate, but it really starts in the tropics.
Born in the Jungle
All around the world, from Brazil to Indonesia to the Ivory Coast and Ghana, deep in the tropical jungle there grows a very special tree…the cacao tree.
Cacao trees grow melon-like fruit, which is harvested by hand. Inside each pod are about 20-40 seeds, or cocoa beans. It’s these beans that give chocolate its special flavor.
After the beans are removed from the pods, they are placed in large heaps or piles. This is called fermentation, and takes about a week. During this time, the shells harden, the beans darken, and the rich cocoa flavor develops. After drying, the beans are ready for transport to the chocolate factory.
Railroad cars carry the cocoa beans from the docks to the chocolate factory where they are cleaned and stored.
Cocoa beans from different countries each have a distinct flavor. After arriving at the factory, the beans are stored by country of origin until they are blended to give them that special Hershey taste.
Cocoa beans are roasted in large, revolving roasters at very high temperatures.
A special hulling machine then takes the dry, roasted cocoa beans and separates the shell from the inside of the bean - called the “nib.” This is the part of the bean actually used to make chocolate.
The nibs now are ready for milling. Milling is a grinding process which turns the nibs into a liquid called chocolate liquor - a smooth, dark stream of pure chocolate flavor which, by the way, contains no alcohol. Now it is ready for the rest of the ingredients!
Mixing it Up
The main ingredients in chocolate are the chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, sugar and milk.
Hershey uses fresh, whole milk to make its milk chocolate. It’s been that way since Milton Hershey developed the recipe in 1900. Tanker trucks bring the fresh milk to the factory every day where it is tested, pasteurized, and then mixed with sugar. The whole milk-sugar mixture is slowly dried until it turns into a thick, taffy-like material.
At the heart of the chocolate factory is the central blending operation where the chocolate liquor is combined with the milk and sugar. This new mixture is dried into a coarse, brown powder called chocolate crumb.
Perfecting the Product
The chocolate crumb powder is used to make milk chocolate. Hershey adds cocoa butter to the crumb which brings out the rich taste and creamy texture of the chocolate. The crumb travels through special steel rollers which grind and refine the mixture, making it smoother.
The crumb becomes a thick liquid called chocolate paste. The paste is poured into huge vats called conches. Once inside the conche, large granite rollers smooth out the gritty particles from the crumb. This process can take anywhere from 24 to 72 hours to complete.
Now the chocolate paste has the smooth, familiar look of milk chocolate and it’s ready to be made into our favorite HERSHEY’S products. The paste is tempered, or cooled in a controlled manner to the right texture and consistency. Other ingredients, like almonds or peanuts, can be mixed into the paste during tempering or added directly to the moulds.
Chocolate Bars and HERSHEY’S KISSES Chocolates
Most chocolate bars are made by pouring the liquid chocolate paste into moulds. The moulding machines can fill more than 1,000 moulds per minute with delicious HERSHEY’S chocolate. The filled moulds then take a bumpy, vibrating ride to remove air bubbles and allow the chocolate to settle evenly. Finally, they wind their way through a long cooling tunnel where the liquid chocolate is gently chilled into a solid candy bar.
Now it’s ready to wrap… fresh, delicious, HERSHEY’S chocolate.
While a lot of HERSHEY’S chocolate products are poured into moulds, HERSHEY’S KISSES Chocolates are made a little differently. Special machines drop a precise amount of chocolate onto a moving steel belt and then quickly cool it to form the famous HERSHEY’S KISS shape. Hershey makes more than 80 million Kiss-shaped products every day at its chocolate factories in Hershey and California.
Fresh From the Factory
As America’s leading chocolate manufacturer, Hershey produces more than a billion pounds of chocolate products each year.
A sophisticated, computerized distribution system makes sure that fresh products arrive at retail outlets across the country.
Although the name Hershey means “chocolate” to most people, Hershey produces a lot of other famous products like Reese's peanut butter cups, York peppermint patties, Mounds and Almond Joy, Twizzlers, Payday, and Jolly Rancher. They are all part of the growing family of chocolate and candy products produced and distributed by Hershey.
Thanks for visiting the world’s largest chocolate factory. Come visit us if you can here in Chocolate Town USA. So long!
The Hershey Company