The Magic of a Winter Wonderland - Hershey PA
This is part of a series of travel stories, based upon the experiences of me and my wife, on our tour across America. Read more at
Hershey – Pennsylvania, PA
Referred to as “Chocolatetown, USA”, Hershey is home the Hershey Company, which makes the well-known Hershey bar, Hershey Kisses and Reese’s Peanut butter cups. The Hershey chocolate factory is one of the oldest in the world and employs close to 14,000 employees globally, selling their products in more than 60 countries worldwide. The town has no legal status as an independent municipality, further enhancing its small-town credentials as a hidden gem. Despite being barren in terms of major points of interests, those in- and around town makes this a near definite must-see destination. Situated only a couple of hours from New York, this is the mouth-watering chocolate sprinkle on the top of any East-Coast visit.
We were fortunate enough to visit this Winter Wonderland while it was coated in layers of snow. Finding inspiration from its famous cookies and cream chocolate bar, the town welcomed us with a snowflake covered creamy white exterior and a melted chocolate filled centre at its heart. As if stolen from a classic Christmas novel this picturesque and breath-taking town captured our imagination and hearts forever.
Our first experience with “the sweetest place on Earth” coincided with Neil’s first driving experience on the wrong side of the road, while driving on the wrong side of the car, while the snow thundered down on an icy road. Tapping into years of experience, learned on the dangerous roads of Brakpan, Neil quickly adapted by manoeuvring through this heart stopping experience at the breakneck speed of 10 miles an hour, to safely stop the “ill-equipped-for-snow” Hyundai right in front of the Giant Centre – home of the Hershey Bears. Perspiring and shaking, these three South African rookies emerged to dabber in the art of ice-hockey supporting. Few sports could prepare one for the craziness that surrounded game. Local breweries tantalized our taste buds, while adrenaline junkies on blades flew over the ice rink at crazy speeds, meanwhile enabling us to learn about pucks, goals, deke’s and many more important terms. Nothing though could compare to the most important word added to our vocabulary on the evening – Enforcers! Synonymous to “tough guy” or “goon”, these “fighters” are tasked to target star players by aggressively taunting them until a fight is started. We were fortunate enough to witness one of these guys earning his salary, by successfully enticing an opponent to take a swing and thereby creating a gloves-down “free-for-all” slugfest between the two, thereby resulting in both players being sent off. Nothing could surprise us more when everybody (including the referees), just formed a circle around this epic madness and allowed the punches to rain down. This epic madness obviously stirred relevant debates around how Bakkies Botha would perform, if he could manage to keep his bulk balanced on two grass-thin blades. Nevertheless, our first ice-hockey game was bursting with many cheers, slow claps, high-fives, confused looks, a win for the home team and of course a lot of Americana.
Still riding high on this adrenalin rush we had to do a return trip to Hershey town, albeit on a much more relaxed but no less exciting experience. Upon our return we decided to go all touristy and enter the magnificent chocolate factory, much expecting to be whipped away by Willy Wonka and his Oopma-Loompas. Despite Johnny Depp not making a cameo appearance, the chocolate factory enthralled us with a truly magic experience. From discovering the story of chocolate by journeying on the back of a cocoa bean through a tropical rainforest of candy, to creating our own chocolate bars in the chocolate factory, before being whisked away it in a train trolley to discover the history of Hershey and the amazing philanthropic story behind, this enchanting town oozed fairylike charms throughout. Taking lessons from the Cold-war giants Russia, we courageously faced the icy weather with our very own pre-packed, sweet-Vodka, ready-mix courtesy of Chantel and Lindy. This much-needed, thirst-quenching brainchild of the two ladies set the scene for a perfect day. A day where they seriously exposed Neil’s creative disabilities, by completely outclassing him in the chocolate bar creation lab. What a fantastic tiny little town with a sweet centred soul, covered in frosted magic. Just a pity we missed out on the theme park containing a couple of the greatest rollercoasters in America. Next time….