The bulk of Hersheypark in the heart of Hershey, PA, is basic top-notch amusement park rides. As you’d expect, one building in particular housed an animated tribute to the cornerstone of the city’s economy and the source of sugary happiness throughout all the land: the mass production of chocolate and chocolate-based goodies.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Every year since 1999 Anne and I have taken a road trip to a different part of the United States and seen attractions, marvels, history, and institutions we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. Beginning with 2003’s excursion to Washington DC, we added my son to the roster and tried to accommodate his preferences and childhood accordingly.
After the record-breaking nine-day epic that was our 2009 trek to the farthest reaches of South Dakota, we decided to scale back in 2010 with a shorter drive in a different direction. We previously drove through the corners of Pennsylvania in 2003 and 2004 — through Washington in the southwest corner on our way to Washington, DC; and through Erie in the northwest corner on our way to Niagara Falls. This year, that extra-large wooded state would be the center of our attention.
As one of America’s original 13 colonies, Pennsylvania contains multitudes of U.S. history and authentic places and things from centuries past. For the three of us, we figured it would do well. Anne is a big history buff. I’m willing to drive just about anywhere within reason. My son would be dragged along for whatever ride until such time as he developed a separate life and identity.
We’re the Goldens. This is who we are and what we do.
We saved the free pretend-factory tour for later in the day, after my energy level had reached zero and begun to hold everyone else back. Guests were seated in amusement-park cars that carried us through an animatronic tour that teaches the facts of life vis a vis Where Chocolate Comes From.
Following the living cartoon cattle were several scenes involving vats, conveyor belts, milk, beans, heat, churning, and stirring. This all culminates in the important part: snack food on parade!
When we exited the tour, they gave us a free miniature chocolate, then herded us to the gift shop, a chocolate fantasy of every Hershey candy you’ve ever seen, many you haven’t seen for years, some you’ve never seen, and some that may have haunted your wildest dreams. A five-pound Hershey bar is only the tip of the iceberg in the ocean of the planet in the endless chocolate dimension that is Hershey’s Chocolate World.
Beyond just candy, they also had a Hershey Marketplace with non-edible souvenirs, fresh baked goods with chocolate toppings (that’s where my money went), and full-service non-chocolate restaurant foods we could eat for dessert such as sandwiches and salads, but not until we finished our chocolate main courses first.
To be continued!
1. The “Hershey’s Chocolate World” logo would reenter our lives when we visited their Times Square store on our 2016 return to Manhattan.
2. For a tour of an actual chocolate factory, may I direct your attention to that time we went behind the scenes at the South Bend Chocolate Company on the occasion of my 2016 birthday.]
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