In celebration of all the sweet memories created over the past half-century, we couldn’t resist compiling 50 of our favorites! They actually begin back at the original Hershey Chocolate Factory, because that's where we like to think our story started. We hope you’ll enjoy learning exactly how HERSHEY’S CHOCOLATE WORLD came to be, some of our major milestones, and best of all – heartwarming moments with guests.

Check back throughout the year as we add to our scrapbook, and don’t forget – share your own memories using our new digital guestbook!

Historical photos of Hershey Chocolate Factory

1. The Original Hershey Chocolate Factory Tour is Born

Almost as soon as The Hershey Chocolate Factory began operating in 1905, visitors wanted to see for themselves how HERSHEY'S Milk Chocolate was made. And so formal tours began in 1910, with a route including bar moulding and wrapping, HERSHEY'S KISSES chocolates depositing, box wrapping and label printing. A local Hershey Visitors Bureau opened in 1915 to support a rapidly growing tourist market and within its first three months, it distributed 10,000 factory tour admission cards.

2. Tour Expands with Chocolate Drink Counter

In 1927, a corner of the men's lunchroom was converted into a lobby with a special counter to serve chocolate drinks. James T. Smith, one of the first tour guides, remembered: "The location of the Visitors Lobby was such that company executives had to go through it to get to their offices, and it was a common sight to see Mr. Hershey himself chatting with the visitors. You could tell that folks who went through the factory were really impressed."

Historical photos of Hershey Chocolate Factory
The Story of Chocolate and Cocoa

3. “The Story of Cocoa and Chocolate” is Introduced

The popularity of the factory tours grew quickly - for both visitors and locals alike - to the point that it was no longer feasible to offer chocolate drinks and five-packs of small HERSHEY'S Bars. Instead, visitors now received gift packets including a booklet called “The Story of Cocoa and Chocolate.” The booklet would continue to be printed even into the early 1980s at HERSHEY'S CHOCOLATE WORLD.

4. Factory Tour Begins its Transition

By 1970, almost one million people annually were touring the factory - a factory that had never been designed to handle so many visitors. It was causing traffic jams downtown, overwhelming the building capacity and creating risks for product safety. A task force was created to address the challenge and considered three solutions: 1) terminate the tour program; 2) renovate to accommodate glass-enclosed walkways; or 3) develop a new, separate facility. After choosing option 3, plans for Hershey Foods Corporation's new corporate Visitors Center commenced!

Historical photos of HERSHEY'S CHOCOLATE WORLD
Historical photos of HERSHEY'S CHOCOLATE WORLD

5. We Open Our Doors!

The last Hershey Chocolate Factory tour was held on June 29, 1973, and its new home, HERSHEY'S CHOCOLATE WORLD, opened the very next day. It was located near Hersheypark's newly-constructed "tram circle," where there would be opportunity for expansion, as well as synergy between the two companies. The primary attraction, of course, was a simulated tour that explained the process of chocolate-making and is still a favorite of our guests today.

6. Our Original Story: All About History

HERSHEY'S CHOCOLATE WORLD was an instant success, drawing 1 million visitors less than 5 months after opening. The tour ride upramp displayed murals about the history of chocolate, and the exit featured a large exhibit exploring the life of Milton Hershey and his model town. Today's jungle was also a part of the original building, known then as the "arboretum." However, the retail area was much smaller, originally three grass "huts" selling sweets and souvenirs. These would be expanded just a few years later to meet the demand for gifts and chocolate - an aspect of visiting that the company had largely underestimated.

Historical photos of HERSHEY'S CHOCOLATE WORLD

7. Our World-Famous Cookies are Introduced!

One of the shops added during the 1978-1979 expansion - a cookie shop! - may have seemed small then, but it means a lot to us now! Clearly, they were a hit from the start, as just two years later, the shop would grow from one to five ovens. The treats are still a favorite at our Bakery today.

8. Hershey's Dessert Cafe Opens

To meet growing demand, the original cafe was enlarged, and its menu was expanded to include more desserts, all of which came from Hershey's Test Kitchens recipes. Renamed "Hershey's Dessert Cafe," we like to think this was just the beginning of all the sweets and eats we offer today.

Historical photos of HERSHEY'S CHOCOLATE WORLD
REESE'S Pieces and E.T.

9. REESE'S PIECES Join Tour Ride

The tour ride saw its first modifications in 1983, including the re-painting of the Hershey-ets section to depict REESE'S PIECES candies. Not only had Hershey-ets been discontinued at the plant, but also the new 1978-born peanut butter treat had been made quickly popular by the launch of the movie "E.T." (Check out the fun story of how this partnership came to be!)

10. Classic Favorites Come to Life

A major renovation in 1988 resulted in many changes that we still hold dear today. The retail areas were updated and now offered exclusively Hershey branded items (Hello World's Largest HERSHEY'S Store!) A "Chocolate Fantasies" food area introduced new specialties, including our world-famous milkshakes. And a complete tour ride re-design featured the beloved original "Great American Chocolate Bar" song, which we've re-created for our 50th anniversary.

Historical photos of HERSHEY'S CHOCOLATE WORLD


More sweet memories to come! Check back throughout the year as we add to our scrapbook, building from this point in history to present day. Cheers to 50 years!

Adventures in Chocolate

Join us on more Adventures in Chocolate!

HERSHEY'S Characters

We're bursting with excitement for our new attraction, 50th events and sweets, plus a new twist on your favorite old song!


We know you've got some favorites! Can't wait to hear your best moments from the past 50 years.