The megabrand that added a distinct taste to US chocolate
I’m not sure I recognise those…
Where have you been? Hershey’s is an iconic brand in the US, one whose staples include Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars and, of course, Hershey’s Kisses (pictured). First produced in 1907 – and originally wrapped by hand – Kisses quickly became one of the company’s best known products, and the distinctive cone-shaped silhouette still features on the company’s logo.
Intriguing… tell me more
The Hershey Company was founded by Milton S Hershey who, after seeing chocolate-making machines for the first time in 1893, sold his caramel business and jumped ship. He developed a method of making chocolate – the Hershey Process – using treated milk, which made production less dependent on milk quality and gave the product its unique flavour. The cocoa content is much lower (at around 11%) than European chocolate.
So we have Hershey to thank for US-style chocolate… or should we say ‘candy’?
It was the first brand to mass produce chocolate in the US, thus embedding its distinctive taste in the minds of the public. It’s not for everyone, though. Food writer Paul Richardson once described Hershey’s Kisses as having “a piquant background flavour of something faintly sour, cheesy, or overripe; what chocolate experts call a ‘barnyard’ taste”.
But it still seems to be selling OK…
The Hershey Company is now one of the world’s largest chocolate producers, with a revenue last year of more than $7.5bn and sales in over 60 countries. It also sells reformulated US versions of British classics KitKat and Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. (Imported UK bars were banned in 2015.)
Can I experience these delights in Blighty?
Yes, you can. In 2011, as part of a wider drive by Hershey’s to increase international sales, Asda Wal-Mart launched a line of 12 products including Kisses. There was talk of including an ‘extra creamy’ edition created especially for the UK. Most British supermarkets with an online presence now also sell one or more Hershey’s products, so they’re easier than ever to get hold of.
How on earth do you get the wrapper off?
There is a technique to neatly opening a Hershey’s Kiss. Hold the tag protruding from the top – often known as a nigglywiggly – and with your other hand pinch and pull the cone wrapper from the bottom. The Kiss should drop into the hand of whoever you are trying to impress.
Earlier this year Hershey’s announced it would invest $500m into its sustainable cocoa programme by 2030, focusing mostly on West Africa. It has also committed to use 100% certified cocoa for all of its products by 2020.