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The Emperors of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars Paperback – Print, January 4, 2000
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The chocolate wars between industry giants Hershey and Mars are anything but sweet. In The Emperors of Chocolate, Joel Glenn Brenner reveals the bitter legal and marketing fights, palace intrigue, and personality clashes that dominate Hershey and Mars--and the candy industry as a whole. A talented writer and dogged researcher, Brenner concludes that after decades of competition between the two companies, the drama still is unfolding. Will Mars--privately held and publicity shy--be the ultimate winner with its global game plan? Or will it be Hershey--publicly traded and philanthropy-minded--with its aggressive strategy of growth by acquisition?
Brenner, a former Washington Post financial reporter, tells the stories of how Forrest Mars Sr. and Milton S. Hershey turned their two companies from small mom-and-pop operations into international forces over the last century. While they may have started small, their products--Mars's Snickers and M&M's and Hershey's milk-chocolate bars and Kisses--are ubiquitous. Hershey was a benevolent philanthropist who spent hundreds of millions to create a town and orphanage to fulfill his altruistic dreams. Mars was a short-tempered perfectionist who yelled at anyone who failed to meet his standards. "What made Forrest's blood rush was the thrill of mastering new opportunities and taming uncharted worlds," the author writes. "Like Milton Hershey, he was driven by his visions; but where Milton Hershey saw utopia, Forrest Mars saw conquest." Nine years in the making, The Emperors of Chocolate is a satisfying read about the two titans of the chocolate world and how they capitalized on our love of sweets. --Dan Ring --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Forrest Mars and Milton Hershey effortlessly hold center stage in this superb study of their competing candy companies. Although both men got rich on chocolate, Mars and Hershey are such markedly different characters that Brenner's book is a riot of dramatic contrasts. Mars is irascible, empire obsessed and insanely tightfisted (his three children never tasted a single M&M during their childhoods because he told them he couldn't spare any). Hershey was generous to a fault, a utopian dreamer who planned and built Hershey, Pa., as a home for his company and its workers. He founded an orphanage for disadvantaged children and, in 1918, almost 30 years before his death, donated his entire estate to the Hershey Trust for the benefit of the orphanage. To her credit, former Washington Post hand Brenner goes beyond these two titans and portrays the entire candy industry. Her prodigious research reveals how the personal style of each candy patriarch continues to influence the current structure and strategy of the company he led. By fully exploiting the many differences between the two companies (Mars is privately held and family-run; Hershey is a publicly held company administered by a management team responsible to the Hershey Trust), Brenner has produced a stellar work of corporate history. Photos. Agent, Flip Wrophy at Sterling Lord; author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Along the way, there are many interesting stories to tell. For instance, how Milton Hershey played a major role in helping to turn chocolate from what used to be a bitter, heavy substance that was difficult to digest to a cherished indulgence. How he turned the middle-of-nowhere, Pennsylvania into a thriving factory town. How his company played a significant role during World War II by creating and supplying tastier, chocolate-laced rations to the troops. How Hershey constantly experimented with ways to make chocolate and ice cream more nutritious. He even experimented with ice cream flavors such as carrot, onion and celery! They did not take off.
There was also a fascinating episode in which Hershey clashed with the unions. In 1937, right after the Wagner Act was passed, the bakers' union seized and occupied a Hershey factory in Pennsylvania, demanding above market wages and to become the exclusive bargaining agent for many employees who did not want to be represented by them. This shut down production and led to millions of gallons of milk to go to waste as many Pennsylvania farmers made a living by supplying milk to Hershey. But Hershey was so beloved by his employees, by the town, and by his farmer-suppliers that a pro-Hershey mob eventually stormed the factory themselves and ejected the union-occupiers themselves.
I also really enjoyed learning about the role that the Mars family—especially Forrest Mars Sr.—played in creating and establishing the Mars company. FMS took a scientific approach to manufacturing (he was an industrial engineer by training), invested in the development of automated factory equipment, institutionalized an obsession for cleanliness and quality control at their plants, and acquired his own chocolate suppliers so that his company no longer had to depend on Hershey to supply them with the indispensable ingredient for candy bars.
It is really fascinating to read about FMS's passion for quality control. Products were visually inspected and taste-tested at every step of the supply chain. Ingredients like peanuts and caramel were checked coming into the factory. Candy bars were constantly rejected from assembly lines if they suffered even the subtlest of scuff marks. Even the dog food that Mars produced—they make Nutro, Greenies, and the like—was taste-tested by executives such as FMS! FMS even regularly purchased Mars products himself from stores throughout the country, and if he found any defects—say, M&Ms with the 'm's not printed clearly or printed off-center—he would make a very angry phone call to one of the executives, demanding to know the batch numbers for this product, who was responsible for checking it, etc.
It is rare to find a book that gives a detailed portrait of the productivity of great enterprises, so I was delighted to find this. There are certainly things that I didn't like about the book, but they were pretty minor. For example, sometimes the author seemed to fixate too much on FMS' “volcanic personality” as if he just enjoyed terrorizing people. He probably had some issues, but I think it is also important to keep the context of what quality control means for the food and beverage industry. Even small mistakes could become front-page news—e.g., if someone found a finger nail in a candy bar—and might soil the business' reputation for years and cost them millions in sales. When it came to cleanliness and presentation, I get why he erupted over such screw ups, even if he could have been more diplomatic and amicable.
He was born in 1857 in rural Pennsylvania. His parents were Mennonites, who were similar to the Amish. His mother expected that he would be a farmer same as people in his community were, and he went to school just until fourth grade.
But he didn't become a farmer but established a candy maker. In 1893, he found that chocolate machinery was exhibited at World's Columbian Exposition and he bought all of the equipment after the exposition. He became the first major chocolate maker in the U.S.
At that time, Milton Hershey didn't know how to make chocolate, so he learned it through trial and error. In the end, he got chocolate with unique Hershey's flavor. Because of its flavor, Hershey's chocolate became quite popular in the U.S., but they couldn't sell it well abroad.
Although his chocolate was almost dominated in the U.S. market, Milton Hershey himself was rarely interested in business. Using the huge profit by his chocolate, he began to build the city Hershey, near his birthplace.
In the early twentieth century, Milton Hershey built not only his huge chocolate factory but also infrastructure of the city Hershey, like streets, transportation, water supply, a park, a swimming pool, a theater, a hotel, and a church, and he supported his factory workers to build their own houses.
Since he didn't have any children, he transferred the most part of his assets to the Milton Hershey School Trust fund to support the Hershey Industrial School, where many orphans, who was got a scholarship from the fund, studied.
The fund had a majority stake in the Hershey Company, so the Hershey Company virtually earned profit in order to support the fund. It is the ultimate philanthropy.
After his death in 1945, the Hershey Company got changed. In his days, although the Hershey Company almost didn't do marketing, their chocolate was sold quite well and earned huge profit.
But the competition in the chocolate market got more severe, and it got more difficult for the Hershey Company to support the city Hershey. And now, the Hershey Company is an ordinary "Fortune Top 500 company."
Someday, I want to visit Hershey's Chocolate World and stay Hotel Hershey in the city Hershey, Pennsylvania.