Reading Hershey, by D’Antonio, which is ultimately about the Hershey school but with substantial amounts dedicated to the Hershey History. Hershey was born to a dreamer, charistmatic and a bit of a snake-oil salesman father and a menninite mother (an odd combination). As a young boy, he went to work at a confectioner (candy shoppe) which were popular at the time, and with his mom’s intervention learned to be a candy maker. After four unsuccessful tries financed by his mom’s successful farmer family, he found success with a caramel formula he found in Denver then produced locally in Lancaster (PA). His mom and aunt’s presence were instrumental in his early successees, and he became quite weatlhy when a London importer stumbled upon his caramel and made bulk orders shortly before Hershey’s business went under. In other words, he was lucky although a hard worker. Eventually, he sold his caramel business for 1M to a competitor, and bought land in Derry’s Creek to construct a huge factory and town for his chocolates, which were still experimental, dominated by the Swiss (and Cadbury) but new to Americans. As his huge investment (1M) neared completion, his loyal worker perfected the recipe for milk choclate (earning a 100 USD bonus), and the factory (and town) became a monstrous success. He used some of this money to build a school for boys at a time when many orphanages were being built to serve the high numbers of poor orphans.
Hershey was lucky and had the support of his family, but also was a hard worker who was dedicated to his craft of making candy, and took a substantial risk in building the what would be the town of Hershey (200K of his 1M windfall was spent in acquiring the land alone, and several of his supports more or less called him crazy for taking on the risk).
This is a fascinating, well-researched, well-written/told story.