Preservation Maya Cocoa Culture & Swiss Handwork
The old Maya were completely at one with nature. Each type of tree, plant, leaf, flower, fruit and root is represented in its symbols. Especially their harvests, which they fed and gave them wealth, enjoyed a special place in their religion and in their ancient myths. Old murals show that the liquid chocolate was poured from a great height in order to obtain as much foam as possible.
Pouring chocolate from one container into another (Maya vase)
Woman pouring chocolate from one cup to another to make foam.
God Ek Chuah with merchant pack and cocoa tree
Every spring the Maya celebrated a feast in honour of Ek Chuah, the god of merchants, travelers and prosperity and patron saint of the cocoa plant.
The Forbidden Mayan Scripture: Popol Wuj
The Spaniards banned the use of the Mayan script and destroyed the manuscripts as "devil's stuff" but for the classic Mayan the most valuable tree of cocoa was the one because, according to a story, is told about the severed head of "Hun Hunahpu" who is placed in a cocoa tree and comes to life.
His head was hung as a trophy under the fruits of a cocoa tree that looked like human heads. He came back from death and multiplied himself by fertilizing a virgin from the underworld and giving birth to his sons and revenge helpers, the famous twin heroes. His sons finally defeated the lords of the underworld and completely restored their father, who is reborn on earth as a young and beautiful corn stalk. The twins are often portrayed as complementary forces. The complementary pairings of life and death, heaven and earth, day and night, sun and moon. The duality that occurs between man and woman is often seen in twin myths, since a male and female twin are conceived as born to represent the two sides of a single entity.
According to the Maya, trees represent the power of life because they manage to come through the underworld and grow high above the ground.
The classic Mayan corn god, depicted as a cocoa tree.
Xquic, the daughter of one of the lords of the underworld, was once seduced by the fruits of the forbidden tree. When she asked herself loudly whether she would pick fruit or not, the head "Hun Hunahpu" heard her and spat in the girl's hand. She became pregnant and gave birth to the twin heroes to avenge the death of her father and uncle.
The Birth of Swiss Milk Chocolate: 1875
The first Swiss milk chocolate was launched by Daniel Peter and Henri Nestlé. In 1879, Rodolphe Lindt developed a process for conching chocolate. It was not until he switched from powder to condensed milk in 1875 that his breakthrough came and his first milk chocolate, Gala Peter, went into production. This was also the starting shot for the success story of milk chocolate as we know it today.
The Swiss Chapter
The Swiss chocolatier François-Louis Cailler brought sweet art to Switzerland in the first place with his training in a Turin chocolate factory and later helped chocolate production to move into mass production.
At the same time, he enabled his son-in-law Daniel Peter to carry out experiments that would later give us milk chocolate as a gift. Immediately after Cailler, Phillipe Suchard opened his confectionery factory. As early as 1826, the later inventor of the world-famous purple-packed chocolate invented his own blender for better blending of all chocolate ingredients. He thus shaped the whole chocolate world: "This melangeur should also quickly be found in Cailler, Peter and others.
A further machine, which is still standard in the production of sweet sweets, took some time to develop. It was not until 1879 that the production process was further improved with Rodolphe Lindt's invention of the conche. It gave the previously hard and coarse-grained chocolate a creamy, soft consistency with an even more aromatic taste in a three-day stirring process.
The Lindt-Sprüngli company finally spread the chocolate Santa Claus, which it was the first company to produce on a large scale according to an idea by the Frenchman Jean Baptiste Letang. While normal milk chocolate in bar form initially dominated the market, Jean Tobler from Berne heralded the next trend in 1899 and, with the addition of almonds and honey, created the first taste variation in his specially shaped Toblerone chocolate.
The US Chocolate King
In Pennsylvania, Milton Hershey built a chocolate factory - and a city for the workers.
More than a hundred years ago, Milton Hershey built a chocolate factory in rural Pennsylvania. For the workers, he built homes, a bank, schools and parks. Even today he still indirectly holds his hand over the city.
Milton Hershey was born in Hershey in 1857, which was then called Derry Township. The region was characterised by immigrants from Germany and Switzerland, often of Protestant faith, such as those belonging to the Mennonite community. They established farms in the region and ran cattle and dairy farming. Hershey is the anglicised version of the Swiss family name Hirschi. These Swiss and Germans did not voluntarily give up their homeland. They had fled from brutal persecution. They were Anabaptists, i.e. Protestants who had only been baptized when they were adults, and originally came from Switzerland, where they were drowned or burned, plagued and expelled. After stops in Alsace and the Palatinate, they fled to Pennsylvania, which was considered tolerant thanks to the Quakers who had created this colony. When we recently drove through this area and also visited the cemeteries, we were amazed at the almost entirely Anglo-Swiss names on the gravestones: Brubaker (Brupbacher), Snavely (Schneebeli), Nissly (Nüssli), Kraybill (Krähenbühl), Hoover (Huber) or Bowman (Baumann). It was a homecoming. They were very devout, the Anabaptists, and convinced that God is good to those whose farm is flourishing. So they worked hard, and many became rich. Today you find a Hershey Heritage Tour in Schangnau, Emmental by David Hirschi, Schüpbach, and Wilson Hershey, USA. They both belong to the huge clan of Hirschis (Switzerland and Germany), Hirschys (France) and Hersheys (USA). Together with hundreds of other people, they are descended from the founding families who were expelled from their homeland during the Anabaptist persecution.
Milton Hershey grew up in poor and unstable family circumstances and completed an apprenticeship with a confectionery manufacturer. He tries his hand as an entrepreneur in the field, but goes bankrupt several times, until he apparently meets the taste of the times by producing caramel.
At the world exhibition in Chicago in 1893 he buys confectionery machines from the German company Lehmann from Dresden. He began to experiment with the production of milk chocolate, which was a novelty at the time, as chocolate was mainly made from cocoa. Unlike many of his competitors who use powdered milk, he used fresh milk mixed with sugar. For his first production facility, he chose the largely uninhabited land of his birthplace and grandfather's farm. He literally builds the factory on a greenfield site.
At the same time he has everything built and erected that the future workers would need: roads, schools, a bank for loans, shops, schools and housing. He sells the workers cheap plots of land so that they can build their own houses. He also provides recreational opportunities: He is building a public park with walking paths and a merry-go-round. He pays security guards and finances the schools. No one has to pay taxes in Hershey for a long time. There is no separate city administration. Milton Hershey wanted a community for his employees that included comfortable homes and inexpensive transportation to and throughout the town. In his community he wanted to have the streets of homes lined with trees, single and two family brick homes with manicured lawns.
Six-Day Workers’ Strike in 1937
Employee resentment began to build up during the Great Depression, when Hershey reduced employees’ hours and stopped paying annual bonuses while spending more than $10 million on capital improvements. So workers were receptive when union organizers came to town to hold secret meetings, and when pressed, Hershey agreed to raise wages. But after a round of layoffs, anywhere from 400 to 1,200 employees went on strike, with alot of milk & chocolate to waste every day. After six days, the strike ended when angry dairy workers and anti-union loyalists stormed the factory, injuring dozens of strikers. Two years later, the company signed an agreement with the American Federation of Labor that gave employees an increase in overtime rates and paid vacations, and Hershey’s became one of the first American candy companies to unionize. Milton Hershey was devastated by the strike, which to him represented an end to the utopian community he envisioned.
What is left after more than a hundred years of Milton Hershey paternalism?
In the decades following Milton Hershey's death, the chocolate company had increasingly withdrawn from the lives of its employees, and the company's own supermarkets, banks, and other institutions were closed or sold. The many recreational facilities operated by the Hershey Foundation are now all commercially oriented (https://www.hersheypark.com/) and also employ thousands of people. The Foundation has contributed enormously to the diversification of the economy - also through its support of the Hershey's University Hospital. The foundation's own leisure conglomerate has attracted a number of hotels, restaurants and shopping facilities such as outlet malls. Hershey residents now describe the town as a quiet, rural place, but thanks to its tourist orientation it still offers much of what larger towns have to offer. Many people seem to be unaware that Milton Hershey, in the form of the trust and the economic activities that belong to it, still holds his hand over it.