When the name Hershey comes to mind, we always think of those milk chocolate bars with the almond filling. We close our eyes and pop Hershey’s “Cookies’n’Creme” kisses into our mouths and let the savory taste tickle our taste buds. We munch on dark chocolate bars as we sip a cup of cappuccino or we prepare for cold winter nights with a glass of dark hot cocoa. This time, however, the name Hershey will be stuck in mind as producer of the soft and creamy caramels “Lancaster caramels”.
We rarely associate Hershey with caramel. I probably never did. Although in the past, Milton Hershey started the company Lancaster Caramel Co. in 1886, with the main attraction being caramels in all shapes, sizes and neat product names. This was Milton’s third confectionery venture after the failure of his New York City candy business. Even with bad credit rating due to failure of his previous New York business and his shortage of money, Milton still struggled through a tough market and his caramel business succeeded with an unbelievably rapid growth rate. Milton first initiated the Hershey Chocolate Company as a subsidiary of the Lancaster Co. in 1894. The idea of dedicating a whole company to the less attractive –by the 1800s standards- chocolate seemed crazy at the time. Chocolate was only used as coating to the main attraction, caramels. But Milton Hershey was never the guy to shy away from experimenting. In 1900 he began producing the sensational Hershey’s milk chocolate bars. With mass production and huge success, the company was able to lower the per-unit cost for milk chocolate and made it available to everybody when it used to only be a luxury item for the rich and privileged. Milton Hershey made a revolution in the sweet industry during a time when experimenting was too dangerous to be even considered. Especially when it’s your money you’re gambling with and the Great Depression is looming in the way. You would be surprised to know that Hershey’s trademark KISSES Chocolates –those flat-bottomed, conical milk chocolate candy bars- were not introduced to the market up until early 1920s, just like the Hershey’s Syrup and Hershey’s chocolate chips.
So not only does Hershey surprise its customers with the first new brand in 30 years but it also stays faithful to its original attraction, caramels, and makes an ode to its innovative founder, Milton Hershey.
Hershey has been known to create country-tailored products and it has expanded its business to many global, sweet-loving markets. Lancaster caramels are released into the China markets before any other markets, including the American markets. The American caramels will be softer and creamier, as opposed to the much harder, milk-based Chinese ones. The Lancaster caramels for the US market will be produced in Canada, according to Steven Schiller, senior vice president for global sweets and refreshments at Hershey.
Lancaster caramels will come in three flavors: caramel, vanilla and caramel, and vanilla and raspberry. It will come in two sizes for about $4 and $2.50 per package. Better indulge our senses in some caramel fun!
Written by: Jaylan Salah