The Hershey Chocolate Company no longer allows the general public to tour itsmanufacturing facilities. So, in 1970, the company opened Hershey's Chocolate World a free visitor's center located near the entrance to Hersheypark.
The highlight of Chocolate World is a free ride which simulates a tour through the factory. Each car seats five adults, so large groups will need to split up. While the ride is actually rather cheesy, kids simply love it. And if you sit through the whole thing, you'll get a free piece of candy at ride's end.
To reach the ride, you've got to walk through a simulated tropical jungle. This is supposed to show what it's like in the third world nations where the cocoa beans are harvested. As you approach the ride embarkation area, you'll start to hear harbour sounds - this is supposed to represent the cocoa bean's trip to Hershey.
Descend some narrow stairs and you're at the ride station. This is tricky, you must walk across a circular, rotating floor to your assigned car and clamber in before the car proceeds into the simulated factory tour.
Tours are available continuously throughout the day. And Chocolate World is open most days from X-X.
The ride begins by showing rail cars with a video of workers unloading burlap sacks of cocoa beans from various tropical countries. The Hershey factory's 24 bean silos are then shown, each storing beans from separate nations as each countries' beans have a distinct flavour..1
Next we see the beans being sorted and cleaned before going to the ovens where they are roasted at 400 degrees to loosen the shells and enhance the chocolate flavour. The roaster is a favourite of the youngsters as it is a large red tunnel with a heat lamp running down the ceiling - simulating the feeling of being a roasted bean.
Once out of the roaster, look to your right and you'll see beans being smashed against a hard stone which separates the 'nibs' from the beans' shells.2
The nibs are ground until they become 'chocolate liquor'. This chocolate liquor3 is the main ingredient in all chocolate products.
Next you'll see giant presses squeezing cocoa butter from some of the liquor, leaving a dry cake of pure cocoa which looks surprisingly realistic. Some of this cocoa is pulverized and refined before being packaged as coa.
On your right, you'll see a large animatronic cow representing the fresh milk used in Hershey's milk chocolate. The West Hershey Plant, uses about 700,000 quarts of milk every day.
Next comes the area where milk and sugarare blended, then condensed to remove most of the water. When this milk and sugar combination reaches the proper consistency, chocolate liquor is added.
This mixture travels through steel rollers to make it smooth. Cocoa butter is then added to form chocolate paste which is then mixed and churned up to 72 hours.
When the chocolate paste is ready, it flows to another machine that pours it into candy bar-shaped moulds. If the paste will be used in a product with nuts4, such as Hershey's milk chocolate bar with almonds.
On your right you'll see the filled moulds glide through a long cooling tunnel, where they are shaken gently to ensure an even distribution of chocolate. At the end of this line, another machine removes the chocolate from the moulds and speeds it along for wrapping, packing and shipment.
That's really the end of the tour, except for a bit of brain-washing where riders are shown many of Hershey's candy products and they are forced to listen to the Hershey's Chocolate song. Don't forget to smile during the song as your picture will be taken and offered for sale when you leave the ride area.
Oh, and one more thing. Remember how tricky it was to enter the ride on that rotating floor? It's even more of a bugger to get out of the ride car and then walk to a solid floor again. But if you make it, you'll get your well-deserved free piece of candy.