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Honest Products: The Hershey Way

Hershey's first Pure Food Show was held at the Hershey Store Company, 2/1916.
Hershey’s first Pure Food Show was held at the Hershey Store Company, 2/1916.

Hershey stood at the forefront of promoting the values and of the the Pure Food Law of 1906. This law, a major achievement of the Progressive Movement, protected consumers from being deceived or harmed by food products with false or deceiving labels. The national Pure Food movement inspired Pure Food Shows in cities across the United States during the second decade of the 20th century.

Locally, Harrisburg first sponsored a show in 1914.

Hershey finally got on the bandwagon in 1916 when the Hershey Store Company sponsored its first show. The show was advertised in the community newspaper, the Hershey Press.

Held for five days in February 1916, the show not only featured display booths sponsored by a wide variety of manufacturers but also presented free motion pictures in the Hershey Central Theater. Hershey, not to be outdone by the big cities, filled to overflowing the Hershey Store Company Grocery Department with exhibits of the leading food manufacturers. There were 18 booths featuring a range of manufacturers and growers including Karo (Corn Products Refining Company), Heinz, Occident Flour, Dromedary Products, Postum foods, Grapefruitola, Sunkist, Moxley Butterine (Oleomargarine), Foulds spaghetti, Sunshine Biscuit and of course, Hershey Chocolate and Cocoa.

Though billed a “Pure Food Show” the event also featured non-food quality products such as Diamond Matches and ‘Perfection’ Oil Stoves.

More than 7000 people attended the five day show that also included daily concerts by the Hershey Orchestra. The show was repeated in 1918 with more exhibits and expanded to other facilities in Hershey.

For more information about the Pure Food Show, search the Hershey Press newspaper, available through the Archives’ website.

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