Although Milton S. Hershey is best known as the man who gave us the "Great American Chocolate Bar," his philanthropic deeds are legendary. Hershey is known as the founder of a chocolate empire. In 1909, Hershey and his wife Catherine established the Milton Hershey School for orphan boys, which today also includes girls. Its first four students enrolled September 1, 1910. Today, the school provides a home and free education for more than eleven hundred disadvantaged youth.
In 1963, the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center of the Pennsylvania State University was founded with a $50 million grant from the M.S. Hershey Foundation for construction and endowment. The 550-acre medical complex, located on a former Milton Hershey farm, opened its doors to the first class of students in 1967 and accepted its first patients in 1970. Hershey's early ventures into the confectionery business in Philadelphia, and later in Denver, New York, and Chicago, were unsuccessful. His entrepreneurial spirit prevailed, however, and when he returned to Lancaster, PA, he found success.
He opened the Lancaster Caramel Company in 1886. After purchasing German chocolate-making machinery at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, he began producing a variety of chocolate creations. In 1900, Hershey sold the caramel company so that he could focus on his chocolate business. He built a new factory in his hometown of Derry Township and began producing HERSHEY'S Milk Chocolate bars. Around his factory he constructed a town, a self-sufficient community that came to include schools, churches, stores, a bank, an inn, golf courses, an amusement park, a zoo, a football field, and a dancing pavilion.