October 06, 2003

Hershey, PA

When we arrived in Hershey, it was Sunday evening and the factory was not working. When we left the motel this morning, work was on and you could tell by the fact that the whole town smelled of chocolate. Strongly. Becky kept kind of spacing out from the pungency of her favorite aroma.

How could Becky resist going to Curves in Hershey? We found our way to the local Curves (on Chocolate Avenue), and to no one's particular surprise, it turned out to be the biggest one Beck had ever been in with the full complement of 12 machines and very active use. I sat in the car and wrote yesterday's log. It's gotten harder and harder to get them written the same day they happen as the trip has gone on. This one is actually being written in the Pittsburgh airport as we wait (and wait and wait) for our boarding time to arrive for the flight home.

After Curves, we went to Chocolate World, the visitor center of the Hershey Corporation. Here we took the simulated factory tour ride complete with piped in aroma of chocolate. The walkway to the ride had displays about the growing of cocoa and its processing before it's shipped to the Hershey plant. At the end of the ride we got a little sample of Mr. Goodbar bites, which were yummy. The ride lets out into a gargantuan gift shop with various fresh chocolate-oriented products as well as glassware and t-shirts and other stuff with Hershey products emblazoned across them. We managed to restrict our consumption to a bag of dark chocolate kisses, some chocolate-filled caramels, and some postcards.

There was no opportunity to ask questions on the "tour", so I went to the Chocolate World Information Boothinformation desk and asked why the recipe is so different for Canadian KitKat bars vs. the inferior product sold in the US. The woman working the desk looked a little startled and said "I've never heard that question before!" She wasn't able to answer it either, but gave me a phone number for their Nutritional/Consumer Information hotline (1-800-468-1714). I haven't called them yet.

The other thing we got at the gift complex was the day's milkshake special, a Special Dark shake. Oh. My. God. Serious religious experience milkshake. Yum.

Right next to Curves we had noticed a hoagie restaurant called South Philly Hoagies and decided to get a cheesesteak figuring Hershey is close enough to Philly for authenticity. We split a small (12 inches long) with mushrooms and were both stuffed therefrom. Good stuff too.

Hershey Public LibraryHershey Public LibraryOh, I forgot that in between Curves and Chocolate World we went to the Hershey Public Library. As you might expect from such a prosperous and civic-minded burg, it was a big new facility with an impressive collection and what seems to be an active Friends group.

Before leaving Hershey we wanted to see the Hershey Museum. The other thing in town is a Hershey-themed amusement park with multiple roller coasters and other rides. It seemed to be shut down while we were there, but we still had to negotiate our way through the extensive parking and queueing areas to get within walking distance of the museum.

Chocolate World was free (as long as you resisted the multitude of commercial temptations), but the museum was $6.50 a head. The museum details the building of Milton Hershey's chocolate fortune and various events in the history of the company and town that he created. The museum also shows some of the treasures that the family accumulated. Hershey seems to have been a collector of collections so he'd buy a collection of clocks or a collection of Pennsylvania Mennonite or German items or Native American artifacts. I was hoping for a little bit more about the social aspects of the company and town. The town was basically engineered as a Hershey company town, so fit in well with the semi-utopian theme of some of the other stops on our trip, the Women's rights convention site in Seneca Falls, the Canterbury Shaker Village, and the Transcendentalist concentration in Concord. Unfortunately, there was very little in the exhibits about this aspect of Hershey's work. Or rather there were a number of statements about how he planned things with his workers in mind, but very little about how it actually worked and works in practice.

From the museum we headed west once again, getting back on the Pennsylvania Turnpike to make time towards our final tourist destination of the trip. We hit Somerset where there were a bunch of motels right on the freeway, but we continued on through hoping to find something farther off the beaten track and maybe closer to Fallingwater. Well, it turns out that Fallingwater is way out in the middle of nowhere and there really isn't anything very close to it so we actually ended up going past it and getting a motel (the Blue Mountain Inn if I remember correctly) 15 or 20 miles away in Hopwood.

We spent the evening watching television (caught The Big Lebowski halfway through, then hung around to watch "The Daily Show", but, my gosh, there's a whole lot of crap and advertising. I forget how bad it is in between these occasional binges on trips). But while watching we also worked on getting all of our stuff back into bags that could be successfully checked or carried onto the airplane. We brought a big suitcase with us and packed inside it a second suitcase and a collapsible ice chest for food on the road. Most of the increase in volume was due to the mountain of flyers and pamphlets and maps and guide books and postcards and things that Becky or I (mostly Becky. I call her the paper magnet.) had collected along the way. We actually managed to keep the purchased paraphernalia pretty limited on this trip. Maple candy, the stuff from Hershey's, a few books. We managed to get it all apportioned to two checkable bags and two carry-ons.

Posted by jeffy at October 6, 2003 02:59 PM
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