Bored and agitated one summer day some years ago, I jumped in my car and drove 90 miles through a mostly green Pennsylvania to see some cows. But not just any cows. In the late sixties, I lived at the Milton Hershey School, an all-boys boarding school for orphans and semi-orphans founded by the inventor of modern chocolate manufacturing. My father died when I was 11, and that was my dubious ticket into Milton Hershey. Daily barn chores were part of our high school responsibilities, and it was to the barn I had worked in for four years that I made my impromptu dash. To do what when I arrived there I could not say.

Albert DiBartolomeo is the author of two novels, several short stories, numerous commentaries for the Philadelphia Inquirer and other publications, and has written for Readers Digest,… More…

Adjustable beds. Beer. RVs. Cigars. Cheescakes. If something is made in this country, chances are you can witness the process. The field’s main guidebook, Watch it Made in the U.S.A., includes more than 300 factory tours and company museums scattered across the country. Nobody ever really plans a vacation around a factory tour the way they do around, say, a national park or a battlefiled or a museum. But when you see a factory tour advertised on a highway sign, or in a brochure on a rest stop rack, you realize that you never really wondered how a guitar was made, but now that you think about it…

Jesse Smith is a writer based in Philadelphia.

Likewise, I would happily rub out any of the new-fangled Hershey’s products that wear the wrappers and take the shapes of chocolate, but are in actuality the terrible bastard children of chocolate and corporate frugality. Yup, that’s right: If you weren’t already aware, there’s a good chance that the “chocolate” you’re buying from Hershey’s isn’t chocolate at all. See, back in 2008, Hershey’s started replacing some of the cocoa butter in its products with a combination of cocoa butter and other vegetable oils. Using other vegetable oils is cheaper for companies, which explains why a bag of the aforementioned Palmer’s always costs a dollar or two less than actual chocolate. But those “chocolate” products taste cheaper, too, as do most foods when unnecessary ingredients complicate their simple recipes. See, the process of making a good chocolate only requires a few steps: Cacao pods are roasted, ground, and made into chocolate… More…