Since 1903, there's been more going on in Hershey, PA, than in any of the surrounding towns in Pennsylvania dairy country. In the early part of the twentieth century, chocolate baron Milton Hershey built a park, a zoo, and an amusement park, in addition to an orphanage and a hospital. In 1973, the elaborate Hershey's Chocolate World opened for official tours, offering a window into the chocolate-making process. In 2006, the company updated the Chocolate Tour Ride so that the scenes of dairy farming in the US and cacao harvesting abroad now look a more like something from this century and less like attractions from the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago (which is, of course, where Mr. Hershey got his start).
The next 29 days will make up "Chocolate-Covered February" in Hershey, PA. But now that Hershey is the parent company of Artisan Confections, which is the parent company of the West Coast artisanal companies Joseph Schmidt, Scharffen Berger, and Dagoba, things happen a little differently. The first event in Hershey this month is a tasting at the Hershey Lodge led by John Scharffenberger on February 8, followed by a chocolate-and-whiskey pairing workshop the next day. The following weekend, February 15 and 16, Joseph Schmidt, one of the grandfathers of the American chocolate industry, will teach classes on how to mold, sculpt, and paint in chocolate.
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