Who Owns Hershey? The Surprising Truth Behind the Chocolate Empire

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Ever wondered who’s behind those delicious Hershey bars you can’t resist? It’s not just a single chocolate wizard, but a fascinating ownership story that might surprise you. Hershey’s, a name synonymous with chocolate in the U.S., has a rich history and a unique ownership structure that sets it apart from other giants in the industry.

You might think it’s all about corporate suits and boardroom battles, but Hershey’s tale of ownership is deeply intertwined with its commitment to making a difference. From its founding to its current status, the company’s journey is a testament to the power of chocolate and charity working hand in hand. Let’s unwrap this chocolate mystery together and find out who really owns Hershey.

Key Takeaways

  • Hershey’s unique ownership revolves around the Milton Hershey School Trust, which holds over 80% of the voting power, showcasing a successful blend of business and philanthropy.
  • The establishment and development of Hershey, Pennsylvania, by Milton S. Hershey highlight the importance of community and employee welfare in building a successful business.
  • Hershey’s strategic ownership and investment in social causes from its inception offer valuable lessons in sustainability, growth, and social responsibility for entrepreneurs.
  • The significant control exercised by the Milton Hershey Trust Company ensures the company’s profits support the Milton Hershey School, cementing Hershey’s legacy as a model for social entrepreneurship.
  • Institutional investors and individual shareholders, though a smaller portion, indicate robust market confidence and public support for Hershey’s products and mission.
  • Milton S. Hershey’s innovative approach, combining strong business acumen with a deep commitment to philanthropy, sets a timeless example for modern entrepreneurs seeking to make a lasting impact.

The Founding of Hershey

In the late 1800s, amidst an era bursting with the spirit of innovation and the hustle of emerging industries, Milton S. Hershey embarked on what was to become a legendary journey into the world of chocolate. Hershey, like you, was driven by a relentless pursuit of success and a deep passion for creating something truly impactful. His entrepreneurial spirit led him to establish the Hershey Chocolate Company in 1905, laying the foundation for what would evolve into one of the most iconic brands in the United States.

As you delve deeper into the annals of business startups, you’ll find Hershey’s story particularly compelling. He didn’t just start a business; he created an entire community around it. Employing a bold strategy, Hershey invested his fortune into developing the town of Hershey, Pennsylvania, which housed his workers and their families. This wasn’t just about building a factory; it was about creating an ecosystem where business and community welfare coexisted harmoniously. It was innovative, risky, and it paid off.

  • Hershey’s founding echoes the entrepreneurial spirit of taking risks and innovating beyond the product.
  • The establishment of Hershey, Pennsylvania, highlights the importance of community in business success.
  • Hershey’s move was a testament to the belief that a company’s success is deeply intertwined with the well-being of its employees and the larger community.

For budding entrepreneurs and business aficionados, Hershey’s story is more than just a tale of chocolate. It’s a lesson in risk-taking, innovation, and the holistic approach to business that goes beyond profits. Hershey didn’t just aim to make the best chocolate; he aimed to make a difference in the world around him. And as you venture into the realm of online businesses and startups, Hershey’s journey offers valuable insights into creating a brand that endures, a community that thrives, and a legacy that inspires generations.

Early Ownership Structure

When you delve into the world of entrepreneurship and startup success stories, Hershey’s early ownership structure offers some intriguing insights. Milton S. Hershey, the visionary behind Hershey, wasn’t just a chocolatier; he was a business mogul who understood the value of strategic ownership and innovation.

Initially, Milton Hershey owned a majority of the shares in the company. This control allowed him to make swift decisions, a must-have ability for entrepreneurs aiming to adapt and flourish. However, recognizing the importance of growth and sustainability, Hershey made a revolutionary move by establishing a trust that would ensure the company’s longevity and its contributions to society.

In 1918, Hershey transferred a significant portion of his shares into the Milton Hershey School Trust, designed to fund and manage the Milton Hershey School, a facility for orphaned children. This decision wasn’t just philanthropic; it was a masterstroke in ensuring the brand’s endurance. The trust not only funded the school but, as the major shareholder, it played a crucial role in guiding the company’s direction.

  • Strategic ownership can foster rapid growth and adaptability.
  • Investing in the community or a cause can simultaneously drive business success and societal impact.

By intertwining his business success with philanthropy, Hershey set the stage for other entrepreneurs to think beyond profits, to consider their legacy and the impact of their businesses on society. This approach of linking business operations with philanthropic efforts is a compelling model for online businesses and startups today, aiming not just for profitability but for a lasting impact in their communities.

Milton Hershey Trust Company

Diving deeper into the heart of Hershey’s unique ownership structure, you’ll find the Milton Hershey School Trust at its core. Established back in 1918 by Hershey himself, this was a move that not only emphasized his philanthropic ideals but also cleverly secured the company’s future. Imagine setting up a trust that benefits an educational institution for orphaned children, and through this, essentially making those children the indirect beneficiaries of a chocolate empire. It’s this kind of forward-thinking blended with a genuine desire to make a difference that can provide invaluable lessons for you in navigating your entrepreneurial journey.

At the center of this structure is the Milton Hershey Trust Company, acting as the trustee. This isn’t just any trust; it’s a powerhouse that holds a significant controlling interest in The Hershey Company. Let’s look at some numbers:

EntityPercentage Ownership
Milton Hershey School TrustOver 80% voting power
OthersRemaining percentage

With this arrangement, Hershey’s not only achieved a way to sustain his philanthropic vision but also ensured that the control over the company remained tightly knit, away from potential hostile takeovers. It’s an elegant solution that merges the worlds of commerce and charity, all while keeping the company’s ethos aligned with its founder’s vision.

As someone who’s ventured into online business and tasted success, there’s something to be picked from Hershey’s playbook. It’s about looking beyond profit, focusing on impact—how your venture can positively affect the community or a specific group. Hershey’s strategy stands out not just for its business acumen but as a beacon of how entrepreneurship can be a force for good. This blend of strong ethical footing with shrewd business planning is perhaps the sweet spot for startups and side hustles alike, aiming for longevity and relevance in today’s rapidly changing world.

Hershey’s Philanthropic Legacy

When you dive into the heart of Hershey’s ownership, you’ll find not just a business, but a testament to the power of marrying success with philanthropy. Imagine, for a moment, being at the helm of a thriving chocolate empire and deciding that your legacy won’t just be about sweets, but about giving back in a big way. That’s exactly what Milton S. Hershey did when he established the Milton Hershey School Trust in 1918.

This wasn’t a small gesture. Hershey transferred a staggering majority of his company’s stock—creating a perpetual funding machine for the Milton Hershey School, a place dedicated to providing education and opportunities for underprivileged children. Over 80% of voting power in the company was placed in the hands of this trust, ensuring that Hershey’s philanthropic vision would endure long after his time.

Here are a few notable impacts of this decision:

  • Ensured continued support for the Milton Hershey School
  • Protected the company from hostile takeovers
  • Cemented Hershey’s place as a model for social entrepreneurship

This kind of forward-thinking is inspirational for you as an entrepreneur. It’s all about vision—not just for your company, but for the society you serve. Hershey teaches us that success and philanthropy can go hand in hand, creating a legacy that benefits not only your stakeholders but your community at large.

Think about the bigger picture when planning your business strategies. What will your legacy be? How can you use your business success as a force for good? Hershey’s blend of stellar business acumen and unwavering commitment to philanthropy isn’t just admirable; it’s a pathway showing how commerce can truly serve humanity. Remember, in today’s world, your impact can be as significant as your profit. Embrace the chance to make a difference, and you’ll discover that your business can thrive in ways you never imagined.

Who Owns Hershey Today?

When you dive into the current ownership structure of Hershey, it’s like peeling back the layers of a rich, chocolatey history to reveal how a company remains anchored in its founding principles while navigating the complexities of today’s market. The Hershey Trust Company plays a crucial role, controlling a significant portion of the Hershey Company. This is a testament to Milton S. Hershey’s vision, ensuring that his philanthropic legacy continues to impact lives through the Milton Hershey School.

Delving deeper, you’ll find that the trust holds a majority of the company’s voting shares, embedding a layer of protection against hostile takeovers and ensuring that the company’s profits serve a higher purpose. It’s a fascinating blend of business acumen and philanthropy, showcasing that it’s possible to do well by doing good.

But who else has a slice of this chocolate empire? Institutional investors and individual shareholders also play their part. Here’s a breakdown of ownership percentages as of the latest data:

Owner TypeShare of Ownership
Hershey Trust Co.80%

This diversified ownership structure underscores the company’s robust position in the market. Institutional investment signifies confidence in Hershey’s profitability and growth potential, while individual shareholders reflect the public’s enduring love for Hershey’s products.

As you ponder your next entrepreneurial venture, consider the insights Hershey’s ownership model provides. It’s a powerful example of how intertwining a business with a charitable mission can not only propel a company to unprecedented heights but also create an enduring legacy. Reflecting on Hershey’s strategy, you might find inspiration for how to weave social responsibility into your own business model, ensuring that your success also contributes to the greater good.


So there you have it. Hershey’s unique ownership structure is a testament to its commitment to both business excellence and social responsibility. It’s a model that proves you can be successful in the market while making a significant impact on society. Whether you’re an entrepreneur looking for inspiration or a consumer who values companies with a purpose beyond profit, Hershey’s story offers valuable insights. Remember, the next time you enjoy a Hershey’s chocolate, you’re not just indulging in a sweet treat; you’re supporting a legacy of philanthropy and innovation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who owns the majority of the Hershey Company?

The Hershey Trust Company owns the majority of the Hershey Company, specifically holding most of its voting shares.

What is the primary purpose of the Hershey Trust Company’s ownership of Hershey?

The Hershey Trust Company’s primary purpose in owning Hershey is to prevent takeovers and ensure profits are directed towards philanthropic causes, especially supporting the Milton Hershey School.

How does the ownership structure of Hershey benefit its philanthropic endeavors?

Hershey’s ownership structure, led by the Hershey Trust Company, allows a significant portion of profits to support philanthropic endeavors like the Milton Hershey School, thereby continuing the company’s charitable mission.

Are there other major shareholders in Hershey besides the Hershey Trust Company?

Yes, besides the Hershey Trust Company, Hershey’s diversified ownership includes institutional investors and individual shareholders, reflecting confidence in its market position.

Can entrepreneurs learn from Hershey’s ownership model?

Absolutely. Entrepreneurs can learn from Hershey’s ownership model that combining business success with a charitable mission can create a lasting impact and legacy.