While visiting central Pennsylvania this past weekend, my sisters and I once again went to Hershey's Chocolate World, an assortment of chocolate-themed attractions primarily designed for children but enjoyable nonetheless for three female twenty-somethings. Save some spiffy renovations and a few new exhibits, much of what I remembered was the same. Chocolate World remains one big advertisement for Hershey products; however, if you suspend your cynicism about the evils of mass-marketing and global capitalism for just a few hours, you'll have great time stuffing your face with goodies.
Entrance to Chocolate World itself is free, as are some of the attractions, like the Great American Chocolate Tour, which details the entire farm-to-store chocolate-making process. It's rather simplistic, but you ride around in a cool motorized cart and receive a free sample of chocolate at the end, so I don't complain. Other (not free) points of interest in Chocolate World include the Really Big 3-D Show, which instructs viewers about Hershey history, and the Chocolate Tasting Adventure, where you taste various types of chocolate and are awarded an "official Masters Degree in Chocolate Tasting from HERSHEY'S University." (Possibly the cheapest, sweetest master's degree on earth.) Just this year Chocolate World also opened a create-your-own candy bar attraction. I was tempted by the opportunity to choose my own wacky mixture of ingredients and design a personal label, but the $15 price tag was just a tad too much.
After the tour, we headed straight to the Marketplace for some shopping and dessert. I was especially eager to check out the chocolate boutique, which often showcases new products before they hit regular stores. This visit I didn't spy anything too exciting, though I was intrigued by the "World's Largest Kiss," a ginormous Hershey's Chocolate Kiss pregnant with many, many regular-size Kisses. There was also much ado about the new white-chocolate Bliss nuggets, but white chocolate is probably one of the five foods I actively avoid, so those went un-tasted.
In addition to regular chocolate bars, the Marketplace also sells cement-thick milkshakes (the sisters both raved about the chocolate peanut butter flavor), fudge (in Almond Joy, Reese's, Hershey's Milk Chocolate, and Special Dark varieties) and baked goods, my personal weakness. I resisted the pastry buns filled with Mounds Coconut, Reese's Peanut Butter in favor of a wedge of chocolate layer cake covered in Reese's Peanut Butter frosting and miniature Reese's Pieces, which I brought home for later. I broke into it around midnight (nothing like dessert at the witching hour) and was fairly disappointed. The peanut butter frosting was lovely: fluffy, not overly sweet, and redolent of real peanut butter, but the cake was dry as a bone and tasted like anything but chocolate. In the future, maybe I'll just stick with the candy.
People say the chocolate you consume at Chocolate World tastes better and fresher than what you buy at regular stores, and in my experience, this is generally true. Or, it at least feels true, which is all that matters. But go, see for yourself, and report back.
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Hershey's Chocolate World is located in (you guessed it) Hershey, Pennsylvania, a very corporate, albeit cute, community where the streetlight covers are shaped like Hershey's Kisses.