Hershey’s Chocolate and Hurricane Sandy

I cannot believe another week has come and gone already. We have had four successful selection tour events this past week for some amazing All-Americans; Clarissa Cardarelli, Jamison Powell, Casey Alterio, Laura Spence and Lowell Perkins. As of now, we have completed 17 out of the original 40 events on our schedule. I say “original” because we may have some potential event changes because of Hurricane Sandy. Two of our events this week (Monday and Tuesday) have already been postponed. We are waiting to hear if we will try to fit them in on a day we have off, or have another team pick them up on their way back to the northeast in November/December.

Outside from our events and following Hurricane Sandy coverage, we have managed to enjoy some attractions in our tour area. On Saturday afternoon, we arrived in Hershey, Pennsylvania ready to get our “chocolate fix” on. Joe, Lauren and I made our way to Hershey’s Chocolate World, where we were in awe with all of the candy bars, cookies, fudge and yummy goodies that surrounded us. We decided to go on the Hershey’s Great American Chocolate Tour first. The tour had us following the life of cocoa beans on their journey to becoming a world famous Hershey’s product. We started out in the tropical rainforest, traveling through the exhibit in small fiberglass cars that are on a moving conveyor belt. We learned how cocoa beans are harvested, broken and prepared before they are mixed with other ingredients to become chocolate. Thanks to three singing cows, Gabby, Harmony and Olympia, we learned the importance of milk in the process, as well as a few other fun facts. The tour also showed us how each Hershey’s product is made, from Reese’s to Kisses, Hershey’s bars to Hershey’s drops, and everything in between. This is a very fun and educational attraction for all ages. I definitely recommend it to those who ever decide to visit the Hershey area. Oh, I can’t leave out that this tour was FREE and you get a FREE sample on the way out!

After the cocoa bean adventure, we decided to make some candy bars of our own at the Hershey’s Create Your Own Candy Bar Attraction. We put on our aprons, hairnets and gloves, (and for Joe, a beard net), and headed into the factory. We each had our own computer where we selected what type of chocolate base we wanted; milk chocolate, dark chocolate or white chocolate. We then chose up to three inclusions: chocolate chips, butter toffee chips, pretzel bits, almonds, butterscotch chips and raspberry bits. (I chose a milk chocolate base with pretzels and almonds.) Our last option was sprinkles or no sprinkles, of course, I chose sprinkles for mine. Lauren chose a milk chocolate base with chocolate chip inclusions, while Joe chose a white chocolate base with chocolate chip inclusions and sprinkles to top it off.

After creating our bar on the computer, we headed into the mini-factory. We watch as our chocolate base is picked up by a suction machine and placed onto a moving conveyor belt. Each stop in the process has our name displayed on a screen so we can follow our candy bar on its journey. The stops are where the inclusions are dropped into your bar. Once the bar passes by each station, it travels through another machine that coats the top of the bar in chocolate. Last, but certainly not least, the multi-colored sprinkles are added.

While our bars make their way through the cooling tunnel, we head into the design studio to create our packaging. There are computers available for each of us to choose our package background, logo, add our name and a few other select images. By the time we have our designed planned out and send it off to the print room, our bars have cooled.

The whole creation process was a blast and such a unique experience. I haven’t had my candy bar yet, due to a tummy ache from all of the free samples and purchased goodies we consumed. I am sure it will be delicious though and will be a great snack on the road when I get my next chocolate craving, which is usually daily after lunch and dinner.

The last attraction we decided to visit at Hershey’s Chocolate World was the Hershey Trolley Works. This is a 60 minute trolley tour through Chocolate Town, with singing conductors dressed in costumes putting on small skits to inform us on the history of Hershey. Our trolley was a special Halloween tour, so we received a variety of Hershey’s candies throughout the trip. I ate all of my candy before the trolley had ended, but I didn’t let it spoil my dinner. We all had an amazing meal at Houlihan’s before heading back to the hotel to drop Joe off so Lauren and I could explore the zoo.

ZooAmerica is an 11-acre zoo in Hershey. Saturday night they had a special Creatures of the Night exhibit that allowed us to receive a rare glimpse of the nighttime habits of a variety of furry and scaly creatures. With all of the kids running around in their Halloween costumes with their flashlights, it was a great way to put us in the Halloween spirit. It was hard to take photos because of the dark, but I did manage to capture one of a gorgeous owl.

Sunday we had an event at Hershey Stadium. Here, we basically informed visitors on the All-American Bowl and All-American Marching Band. Lauren also went on field twice during the event to recognize All-Americans in attendance. After our event was over, we hit the road to our hotel. The drive was rainy and slightly windy because of the hurricane moving closer to shore. Our Monday and Tuesday events have both been cancelled because of Hurricane Sandy. Right now, we are waiting out the storm in an extremely nice Holiday Inn Express. All of the visitors are extremely friendly; all chatting about the storm headed this way. There are quite a few moms at the pool with their kiddos (indoor pool, obviously) and the bar is completely packed with the fellas. I have done three workouts and two loads of laundry today to help pass the time. The wind is picking up and the rain isn’t letting down at all. We still have a few hours until the eye makes its way over us; yes, the eye is predicted to come RIGHT over top of where we are, not cool.

We just found out our hotel generators only light up the lobby and hallways. They have flashlights available for a deposit of $10 in the lobby, we may have to pick one up soon before they all run out. There are a few leaks in the hotel as well, one unfortunately right over the pool table, which they covered with trash bags instead of moving. It should definitely be an interesting night ahead.

I’m off to get a few things done in case the power goes out, hopefully not, but by the looks of Frankenstorm, there is definitely a high possibility. We will continue to watch the storm on The Weather Channel as it makes its way towards us. We will be thinking about our friends and family in the area, as well as the All American Games staff in Wharton, NJ. Be safe everyone!