Articles by Reesa Marchetti

Reesa Marchetti, Editor, Writer, Web DeveloperTrip to Hershey: good and evil even in Chocolatetown
A vacation town of her dreams

© Today's Sunbeam
by Reesa Marchetti

I thought I was dreaming. We were driving along this scenic Pennsylvania county road, when suddenly quaint fairy-tale-like street lamps appeared on each corner.

When we rolled down the car windows, I started screaming. The rich, thick aroma of dark, heavy chocolate cooking didn't just permeate the air — I felt like it was permeating me.

Then we turned the corner onto the main street, Chocolate Avenue. We looked up to the see that every street light was capped with a giant lamp shade in the shape of a foil-wrapped chocolate kiss.

Brown-garbed factory workers appeared on the ultra-clean, perfectly landscaped sidewalks, taking a break from all that molten chocolate swirling in huge vats. Perfectly-trimmed reddish-brown shrubs spelled out the words "Hershey Cocoa."

Yes, we had arrived in the vacation town of my dreams — Hershey, Pa. At first, I was extremely impressed, especially because everywhere we went, people gave us chocolate.

We took what was advertised as a free tour of the chocolate-making facilities. It was actually a Disney-like ride through a mock factory, complete with smiling, life-sized candy bars waving to us at the end of the ride.

We learned about the nutritional value of pure, natural milk chocolate — I rolled my eyes and laughed, "Oh, sure," at that announcement. We learned how the fresh healthy cocoa beans, milk and natural sugar are delivered in basic burlap sacks to the factory every week.

We watched the beans being milled. We saw it stirring in huge vats. We saw it refined and pressed.

We had the opportunity to buy automatic photos of us that had been snapped as we waved back to the candy bars.

I felt a huge pimple developing even before they handed us the free chocolate bars at the end of the ride.

Soon it was on to the amusement park. The lines for the rides weren't too long and I decided to try one of the least scary roller coasters.

As we waited for our turn, I said to another obvious mother in the line, "Why are we doing this?"

"It's not so bad," she assured me. "This ride is okay for even the little kids. Look at all of them in the line."

I was slightly relieved to see knee-high kiddies anxiously awaiting the start of the ride.

To pass the time, my husband began counting the people in the line who resembled him. I decided to join in the game.

He beat me with five bald-headed men to my three unnaturally redheaded women.

After we finally got ourselves belted into the coaster, I screamed most of the way down — and up — and down..

Following a "raging rapids" ride, we decided to pay for a video of gallons of water being poured on us as I, once again, screamed.

When we went to dinner, we got chocolate kisses instead of mints at the end of the meal.

We spent two-and-a-half days in the fairy tale village before I began wondering where the slums were kept. I peered down the side streets, and yes, the houses were smaller than the stately mansions on Chocolate Avenue, but they still had those quaint little street lamps.

Nobody was out drinking beer, cursing or fighting.

I didn't realize where the theft was until we were on our way out of the dreamlike village that Milton Hershey built. We stopped at a fast food restaurant and ran into some fellow Jerseyites who recognized us by my husband's Millville Airport tee-shirt.

We laughed together about all the free chocolate we had been offered.

"That's true," the Jersey woman said. "But then they hit you with the chocolate tee-shirts, chocolate-shaped refrigerator magnets, chocolate postcards, chocolate pens and pencils.

"They turn around and take your money for everything else."

My chocolate dream was over.

Now I'm home again, where there is no overwhelming chocolate aroma. But the wild roses are in bloom around here, and it smells like fine perfume to me.

And roses are a lot less fattening.