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William Dearden stands next to a portrait of M.S. Hershey, 1976

Mr. Hershey’s dream was that a student from the Hershey Industrial School (now Milton Hershey School) would go on to run the chocolate company he created. Although Mr. Hershey was not alive to see it happen, he met the boy who would fulfill this dream in 1940, when William “Bill” Dearden graduated from H.I.S.

After Milton Hershey’s death in 1945, chocolate company executives stayed the course set by Mr. Hershey. But the chocolate company was losing market share to other confectionery companies, such as Mars, Inc.

Plus, inflation was affecting the price of sugar and cocoa beans – two essential ingredients needed to make milk chocolate. Bill Dearden provided the leadership and vision that pulled the company up by reducing its dependency on chocolate sales and modernizing its business operations and practices.

A Hershey Foods Corporation 1979 annual report shows the company’s diverse product line.

Bill Dearden’s charismatic leadership style made him the best choice to lead the company through some difficult changes. He instituted strategic planning, expanded distribution to international markets, oversaw new product development and the acquisition of new businesses such as Friendly Ice Cream and San Giorgio Macaroni.

Perhaps one of Mr. Dearden’s most visible impacts was the creation of a marketing department. Once the chocolate company began using television and radio commercials to advertise their products, sales increased.

Visitors can see a collection of Mr. Dearden’s personal items as well as several iconic commercials—advertising campaigns that helped Hershey reclaim the number one confectionery chocolate spot, which it still holds today.

Visitors to the new exhibit will see beloved campaigns like ‘Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together’ for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and ‘Messy Marvin’ for Hershey’s Syrup.

The 1982 movie, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, was the first time a Hershey’s product was featured in a major motion picture.

The new exhibit will also feature the story of how Reese’s Pieces became the first Hershey’s product to be used in a major motion picture, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Guests can see nostalgic product packaging and the development of new products like Rally and Frostin’. Younger guests can enjoy several interactive activities, including a scavenger hunt and a slogan scramble.

Entry into the exhibit is included in admission to the Museum Experience. Members of The Hershey Story are free.

The exhibit has been made possible with the generous support from The William E. Dearden Foundation, Milton Hershey School and The Hershey Company.

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