Cocoa Beans

Hershey chocolate bars are made in Hershey, Pennsylvania, in the world’s largest chocolate factory. The process of making Hershey bars begins with the cocoa bean.

Cocoa beans are harvested from cacao trees, which produce a melon-like fruit (or pod). Inside each cacao pod are 20 to 40 seeds, or cocoa beans. First, the pods are split. Then the beans are removed and placed in large piles to ferment. During fermentation, the cocoa flavor develops and the shells harden and darken. After about seven days, fermentation is complete and the beans are dry. They are then transported by railroad car to the chocolate factory to be cleaned and stored.

Roasting the Beans

Hershey’s chocolate has a distinctive flavor, which is achieved by blending cocoa beans from different countries. The cocoa beans are blended, then put in large revolving roasters and roasted at very high temperatures.

Chocolate Liquor

Next, a special hulling machine separates the inside of the bean (the nib) from the shell. The shells are discarded and the nibs are milled, or ground up. The heat from the process of milling causes the cocoa butter in the nib to melt. The mixture turns into chocolate liquor, which is a pure, liquid chocolate.

Four Key Ingredients

The four main ingredients in Hershey’s chocolate are chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, sugar and milk. Hershey uses whole milk in its recipe for milk chocolate. In 1900, Milton Hershey was the first American to develop a formula for milk chocolate. Tanker trucks bring fresh milk to the Hershey factory every day. It is tested, pasteurized and mixed with sugar. The milk-sugar is then slowly dried until it turns into a material as thick as taffy.

The chocolate liquor is combined with the milk-sugar. The new mixture is dried into a coarse, brown powder called chocolate crumb.

Cocoa butter is added to the chocolate crumb. The crumb mixture travels through steel rollers that grind and refine the mixture, making it smooth; the result is called chocolate paste. At the next step, called “conching,” the paste is poured into huge vats called conches, where large granite rollers smooth out any gritty particles. This process can take anywhere from 24 to 72 hours because the longer chocolate is conched, the smoother it becomes.

Cooling the Chocolate

The chocolate paste is then ready to be cooled, or tempered, in a controlled way, so it reaches the proper texture and consistency. At this time, other ingredients like nuts can be mixed in.

Forming the Candy Bars

The chocolate is then molded into the shape of candy bars, with the trademarked Hershey name imprinted on them, by pouring the liquid chocolate into molding machines. The filled molds are transported on a vibrating conveyor belt to remove air bubbles and to allow the chocolate to settle. Finally, the candy bars are sent through a cooling tunnel where the chocolate is gently chilled solid. The candy bars are then ready to be sent for wrapping.