The impetus for the trip to Chocolatetown is another blog for another time (soon). Suffice it to say, Rob and I got to spend a long weekend being toured around town by locals who know their chocolate history. Totally VIP all the way. It was awesome.
I didn’t really have any preconceived notions about Hershey, other than it would hopefully be somewhat chocolate-centric. In that way…and in all others...it did not disappoint. Mmmm!!
For one thing, the place smells like chocolate!! Truly, the whole town! Although the locals said they couldn’t really smell it, I gotta tell you, it was salivatingly obvious to our out-of-towner noses.
The main chocolate manufacturing plant (focusing on Kisses and syrup) and a much smaller Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups plant are located next to each other on the outskirts of Hershey. Their intoxicating odors waft through town, especially down the main street – aptly name Chocolate Avenue. It was delicious and so much more dangerous than the smell of Juicy Fruit that used to fill the still night air in my college town when the Wrigley’s plant was in full operation.
Chocolate Avenue was also great fun because all the street lights are shaped like Hershey Kisses. They alternated between wrapped and unwrapped. Our first night, I eagerly awaited sunset with anticipation that the lights would glow in chocolate and silver but was sadly disappointed that at night, they were simply boring street lights. Boo!
Although, to make up for it, there were some novel lights in the street’s median that did cast a chocolate kissed glow at night. Still, glowing kisses hovering overhead would have been amazing. Hershey Chamber of Commerce, please take note.
I guess I should mention, the town of Hershey technically only exists at the post office. The rest of the town is actually called Derry Township. However, Mr. Hershey and his trustees are very smart marketers, so that little technicality is only briefly mentioned if you get the right tour guide. Nevertheless, the town…whatever its name…has done a commendable job of providing lots of ways to learn about, experience, and eat chocolate. We did our best to paint the town...and our faces...brown.
We spent a few hours at a museum learning The Hershey Story. We learned things like Milton and his wife had no kids so they started a school (still going strong) for orphans. We learned that Milton was sort of the Henry Ford of chocolate by automating the manufacturing process and making chocolate affordable to more than just the fancy people. We learned that Milton and his wife had tickets to sail on the Titanic but ended up taking an early ship across the ocean due to some sort of chocolate emergency (I have those with some frequency). We learned that the Hershey Company used to make butter and currently makes Twizzlers. And, most importantly, we learned that chocolate is more sustaining than meat. I knew it!!
|I now own a t-shirt with this reminder|
Sadly, public access to the chocolate factory is a thing of the past, much like Bar None and Swoops. Instead, you can take a free ride in Chocolate World through a simulated factory narrated by singing cows. Think Willie Wonka meets It’s a Small World a la Country Cow Jamboree. It was honestly such a frenzy of lights and music and cows, I didn’t quite retain all the manufacturing and production info it was trying to impart. If we had had more time, I would have lobbied to go through at least two or three more times…especially since they were handing out free full-sized Kit Kat bars at the end.
|"It's the Milk Chocolate, yeah yeah yeah!"|
Oh yeah, then there’s that part. Chocolate is EVERYWHERE! Chocolate World had the largest collection of Hershey chocolate products in one place I have ever seen. It was so overwhelming, we returned a second day just to make sure I had exhausted my shopping list.
But beyond the chocolate you could buy, there was all the free chocolate people were handing out on tours. And the lab where we got to design our own chocolate masterpieces AND lick the bowls and spoons when we were done.
|I don't know what it is, but it was delicious.|
And the Chocolate Tasting Bar where we got to sample warm liquid chocolate from around the world (and by warm liquid chocolate, I don’t mean hot chocolate. I mean chocolate chips that had been melted and then blended with just a little bit of milk to keep them from solidifying. OMG!! By the way, chocolate from Java tastes like caramel.) I truly ate more chocolate in three days than I have in three years combined. And that includes the Fair. It is by the grace of God and apparently some freaky metabolism that I didn’t have to buy an additional seat on the flight home.
And then, of course, there was the Chocolate Spa. Oh, yes, you read that right. And oh yes, you better believe I did!
I am soooo not a spa person. Before The Spa at the Hotel Hershey, I had done “the spa thing” just two times in my life. Both were awkward and weird and a little creepy. Something about being pampered by strangers. Especially when the strangers are wearing more clothes than I am.
ANYway… back to the chocolate.
With an afternoon to kill and a need to relax and rejuvenate before our journey home, I managed to snag an appointment for a Chocolate Immersion… a “signature chocolate-theme body treatment featuring a Chocolate Bean Polish followed by the Chocolate Fondue Wrap.” OH YEAH!!
The tantalizing description included words like “exfoliation of cocoa bean husks” “cocoa body moisturizer” “essence of cocoa” and my favorite: “the fondue application.”
Although none of the products were actually chocolate, it really didn’t matter because it all smelled like chocolate and looked like chocolate. I am proud to say I resisted the urge to find out if it tasted like chocolate; my success due mostly to the fact that I was already quite chocolated by all the free Hershey Kisses I had munched in the Aromatherapy Room and the decadent free hot chocolate I had sipped in the Quiet Room prior to my treatment.
When I opened my eyes during the Chocolate Bean Polish, I looked like I had been sprinkled with cocoa nibs. When I surveyed my limbs after the fondue application, I looked like I had been dipped in chocolate. I believe I have never looked more beautiful.
As Liz was wrapping my chocolate dipped self in a blanket to complete the Fondue Wrap, I giggled that the outside of the warming blanket was a shiny silver. All I needed was a little paper flag on my head and I would have been a human Hershey Kiss. So fun!
When I met up with Rob a few hours post-immersion (he had spent the day doing manly things like touring a coal mine), he took a whiff and said I smelled like a Chocolate Peep. He wasn't complaining.
We capped off the evening with a lovely dinner at the hotel where I indulged in my first-ever Chocolate Martini. I mean, how could I not have a martini with a Hershey Kiss in the bottom?? And yes, it was quite tasty. So tasty, I fear no other version will ever come close.
|So much for only being a wine drinker|
So with that and lots of chocolate treats to bring home, we brought our trip to Chocolatetown to a close. (Fun Fact: It takes seven teenagers less than 50 minutes to consume 30 full-sized packages of Hershey goodness. I’m sure the Youth Group parents love us. Oops.).
I now firmly believe that every lover of chocolate (read: woman) needs to visit Hershey, PA at least once in her life. And be sure to pack the stretchy pants.