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The Genuine Bears This Signature, Part 1

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Caption: Milton S. Hershey, 1910


This articles examines a variety of materials signed by Milton Hershey to explore the man behind the chocolate bar. In fact, Milton Hershey didn’t sign many documents. He preferred to communicate through telephone calls and telegrams. Milton Hershey’s interests and activities were not limited to chocolate. Documents and objects autographed by him reflect a complex man with varied interests and passions.

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Caption: Early packaging included the reassuring branding phrase, “The Genuine Bears this Signature,” ca. 1903-1905


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Caption: Hershey Chocolate continued to use the phrase into the 1930s.

Before there was chocolate

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Caption: Milton Hershey’s first business card, ca. 1876

In 1876, Milton Hershey’s first business venture, a wholesale and retail confectionery shop, began in Philadelphia. The early modest success Milton Hershey enjoyed quickly came to an end when he decided to invest in one of his father’s inventions. This unplanned for financial drain forced Milton Hershey to seek loans from his mother’s brother, Abraham Snavely.  Abraham was unwilling or unable to loan Milton the necessary funds and the business went bankrupt in 1882.

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Caption: Milton Hershey wrote several letters to his uncle from 1880 until his bankruptcy in 1882 pleading for financial assistance

Transcript of letter:

Spring Garden Steam Confectionery Works,
925 & 927 SPRING GARDEN ST.,
532 Linden Street.

Philadelphia, Jan 14 ____ 1881

Dear Uncle,

You letter received am sorry to have disappointed. You but money matters are so tight with me that it is impossible to comply with your request for it takes considerable money to Get up a Cabinet which I am introducing an which will bring me some money back if wrightly Handled so You have to excuse me till I can Give it Back if aunt Martha is satisfied

Your Respects,
Nephew M S Hershey

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Caption: Milton Hershey used stock trade cards to which he added his own contact information. ca. 1879-1881


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Caption: Trade card, ca. 1879-1881

Success with caramels

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Caption: Lancaster Caramel Company was the largest caramel business in the United States, selling caramels world-wide. ca. 1900


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Caption: Milton Hershey’s caramels were sold around the world, “Confectioners Journal” advertisement, 10/1892

Milton Hershey sold his hugely successful Lancaster Caramel Company in 1900 for one million dollars to the American Caramel Company, his largest competitor. Half of the purchase price was satisfied with American Caramel Company stock. Selling the Caramel Company provided Milton Hershey with the capital needed to build his vision of a thriving business surrounded by a model industrial town.

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Caption: As soon as he was able, Milton Hershey began selling his American Caramel Company stock, 10/4/1900


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Caption: Reverse side of American Caramel Company stock certificate, 10/4/1900

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