There's a frown in every Hershey Bar
September 10, 2011 8:22 AM   Subscribe

Justice at Hershey's students on a cultural exchange program say Hershey treated them like serfs. posted by Lanark (62 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
This sort of encapsulates modern American labor history: Hershey's used to be a force for good.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 8:35 AM on September 10, 2011


Let's add some leafy greens to this meal so that you have to chew.
posted by wallstreet1929 at 8:35 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Local coverage of Hershey protest.
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:36 AM on September 10, 2011


Hershey doing this: protracted investigation followed by a warning and $10,000 fine.
A small business doing this: a raid by the sheriff, seizures, proceedings in district court, prison time.
posted by crapmatic at 8:41 AM on September 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm shocked--those Oompa-Loompas seemed so happy, singing their little songs.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:47 AM on September 10, 2011 [13 favorites]


Good for them.

That's exactly how unions are supposed to work.
posted by empath at 8:49 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


In fact, I'm going to not buy any hershey products until this gets resolved. Here's a list.
posted by empath at 8:54 AM on September 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


> In fact, I'm going to not buy any hershey products until this gets resolved.

Man, then I've been protesting hershey before it was cool then.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:04 AM on September 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


In fact, I'm going to not buy any hershey products until this gets resolved. Here's a list.

I've shied away from Hershey products ever since there was all that business a few years back about changing the legal definition of chocolate so they could use hydrogenated oils and artificial sweeteners instead of cocoa butter and sugar in their candy, but still slap CHOCOLATE on the package.

Between this student worker nonsense, redefining "chocolate", and that time Milton Hershey tried to market beet ice cream, maybe it's about time we find another source for our candy.
posted by phunniemee at 9:04 AM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is why we can't have new jobs
posted by infini at 9:06 AM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I buy, maybe, one candy bar every 2 months (although it's usually Hershey, due to brainwashing from growing up sort-of-near their theme park) so it's pretty easy for me to boycott. I also decided to piss into the wind, and send them an explanation of my boycott using their on-site contact form, although I wouldn't be surprised if they have a kill file that sends anything containing "union" "guest worker" or similar phrases straight to the trash.
posted by codacorolla at 9:07 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


And here I thought treating workers like serfs was an important part of American culture. What did these students think they were going to get, some kind of hippy-dippy chicken-in-every-pot, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps, land-of-opportunity thing?

</bitterness>
posted by gauche at 9:08 AM on September 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


"Little surprises around every corner, but nothing dangerous."
posted by Fizz at 9:09 AM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've shied away from Hershey products ever since there was all that business a few years back about changing the legal definition of chocolate so they could use hydrogenated oils and artificial sweeteners instead of cocoa butter and sugar in their candy, but still slap CHOCOLATE on the package.
As opposed to the healthy, traditional ingredients that make up chocolate...
posted by -1 at 9:10 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


It sounds like they got a perfect "cultural experience" to me. Welcome to America, sukcers. Now bend over.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:10 AM on September 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


As opposed to the healthy, traditional ingredients that make up chocolate...

That's not the point. The point is that one of them is chocolate, and one of them is not chocolate.

I'm going to go deep fry a stick of butter now. Enjoy your lightly poached margarine, weirdo!
posted by phunniemee at 9:15 AM on September 10, 2011 [38 favorites]


although I wouldn't be surprised if they have a kill file that sends anything containing "union" "guest worker" or similar phrases straight to the trash.

I would guess not. It's somebody's job to deal with that stuff and if they get a flood of it, they'll take notice. I can't imagine it would even cost them that much money to get this resolved.
posted by empath at 9:25 AM on September 10, 2011


Hershey's chocolate is WTF-disgusting anyway.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 9:27 AM on September 10, 2011 [26 favorites]


I've shied away from Hershey products ever since there was all that business a few years back about changing the legal definition of chocolate so they could use hydrogenated oils and artificial sweeteners instead of cocoa butter and sugar in their candy, but still slap CHOCOLATE on the package.
What I remember is that they wanted to be able to sell items flavored with coco powder as "chocolate", stuff like tootsie rolls. Right now it has to have coco butter to be called that.
It sounds like they got a perfect "cultural experience" to me. Welcome to America, sukcers. Now bend over.
Yeah. There was a reddit thread where a surprising number of people took Hershey's side. It was interesting. A lot of people seemed to think they should have just sucked it up and done the work, even though a lot of kids actually paid to come here. here's the thread although it looks like since I saw it the comments saying it was OK have been downvoted off the top of the page (in fact, many of the top comments are now complaining about the former top comments) .

here is a comment that was saying "oh, it's not so bad" and a reply to that saying "This just sounds like a bunch of whining from people who didn't research what they were signing up for" and this one says:
There was nothing in this video that demonstrated to me the working conditions at Hershey's were unreasonable. Some jobs are just harder than others, and shipping is one of them! Anyone who's worked at UPS, Fedex, or another company's shipping dock can tell you this.

To me, this sounds like a bunch of glassy eyed kids thinking Hershey's would be like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. They thought America was all cupcakes and sunshine and when they found out they had to do a difficult job they got defensive.
posted by delmoi at 9:28 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


By my reading of this law, Hershey is clearly in violation.
posted by empath at 9:38 AM on September 10, 2011


CETUSA was also involved in the metafilter russian trafficking thing from last year.

Here is the Daily Beast article. CETUSA is mentioned on page 4.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:57 AM on September 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


They thought America was all cupcakes and sunshine and when they found out they had to do a difficult job they got defensive.
Because America never stops telling the world how great they are. What a rude shock people are in for when they realise the truth - it's no better, in many cases worse, to live and work in than other western countries.


Also Hershey chocolate is horrible. It doesn't hold a candle to Cadbury and others. It's the Pontiac Aztek of chocolate.
posted by cmetom at 10:01 AM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


But it's time for Reese's pumpkins!
posted by Roman Graves at 10:05 AM on September 10, 2011


There was a reddit thread where a surprising number of people took Hershey's side. It was interesting. A lot of people seemed to think they should have just sucked it up and done the work, even though a lot of kids actually paid to come here

Of course the deeper issue is what this does to the US labor market -- or certainly the labor market in Hershey, PA. It's another way to deflate wages.
posted by dhartung at 10:09 AM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hit post too early.

There's a similar thing that goes on up at Wisconsin Dells, the busy summer resort and waterpark area, which has drifted away from high school and college students from the region and toward J-1 guest workers.

A two-month investigation by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism found that while many foreign students have positive experiences in Wisconsin Dells, some encounter economic, housing and transportation safety problems while working under the federal work-travel program overseen by the U.S. Department of State.
posted by dhartung at 10:12 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Our biz owners and their companies use and abuse Interns, foreign guest workers, and illegals...
And there is no govt regulations, punishments, investigations. In sum: labor is and remains an exploited group in this nation and American workers seem indifferent to unions to offer a corrective.
posted by Postroad at 10:16 AM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I haven't been there in 6 years or so, but the wait/hotel staff in the resort area around Gulf Shores Alabama was almost universally foreign students. I'm sure it was because all those people living just outside of town in those little, unpainted houses, were fully employed and unavailable.
posted by tomswift at 10:34 AM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Welcome to America, sukcers. Now bend over.

So these students were taken up the Hershey Highway?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:38 AM on September 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


cmetom: "Also Hershey chocolate is horrible."

I'm glad I followed the wiki link upthread because it lead me to the page on the Hershey Bar and now I know I'm not insane and that the particular process used to make the stuff means that it really does taste like sick. I thought I was having a cilantro/soap moment when I had to go spit out the Hershey bar someone offered me.

also Reese's Cups were staggeringly gross. jesus.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:41 AM on September 10, 2011


So these students were taken up the Hershey Highway?

The Mr. Goodbar highway is five miles West of here. If you want to take the traditional Hershey Highway, you'll have to empty your nut sacks.
posted by TheRedArmy at 10:57 AM on September 10, 2011


Great, CETUSA is at it again. I learned of the Hershey's incidents almost a week ago but didn't see mention of CETUSA then.

So people understand the structure here:

1. In a foreign country, a travel agency sells a "cultural exchange package" to a student for a lot of money. Effectively, this is a channel to acquiring a J-1 visa.

2. The travel agency contracts with a sponsor, like CETUSA, who is supposed to handle job placement and actually signs the J-1 visa. The travel agency is not mentioned there and they are not responsible for... anything.

3. The visa sponsor secures "employment" and that's about it. There are few-to-no mandated checkups and they can be handed from job to job with essentially no oversight.

The State Department is working on this. Some changes were set up for this summer, after what I've been told was one of the worst summers of trafficking/visa fraud ever. But apparently they are not yet enough.

CETUSA is negligent and should be shut down with prejudice.
posted by fake at 10:58 AM on September 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


I don't know what CETUSA actually does besides collect money and rubber stamp exploitative visas. Wonder how much their staff gets paid for this important "non-profit" work.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:08 AM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also Hershey chocolate is horrible. It doesn't hold a candle to Cadbury and others.

Do you know who manufactures, distributes and sells Cadbury products in the U.S.?

Yep, that would be Hershey's.
"The Hershey Company holds a license to manufacture CADBURY chocolate products in the United States."
Hershey's Cadbury recipes (as with other U.S. chocolate manufacturers) use various additives (as mentioned above by phunniemee), such as wax (which is permitted by the FDA) and cheap additives, such as vegetable oils which create very different tasting chocolates than those manufactured by Cadbury in the U.K. and elsewhere.

So, be sure to purchase the 'real' Cadbury products manufactured in the U.K. Such a different and superior product.
posted by ericb at 11:11 AM on September 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


SO, there are no unemployed Americans to do these jobs, I guess? Good to know.
posted by spitbull at 11:33 AM on September 10, 2011


SO, there are no unemployed Americans to do these jobs, I guess? Good to know

Oh American's don't work for Hershey's, they simply eat a ton of it.
posted by Fizz at 11:54 AM on September 10, 2011


I've hated Hersey chocolates ever since I could remember. Nestle was marginal but then I discovered Cadbury as a teenager and oh! the feeling of rightness and contentedness that swept over me everytime I bit into a Cadbury bar. Now as we all know something seriously bad happened to Cadbury when Hersey took over forcing me to eschew all candy bars but recently I have become a devoted Ritter Sport Girl. Happy endings all around....unless Hersey decides to manufacturing those as well.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:01 PM on September 10, 2011


Sounds to me like these students learned all sorts of lessons about America. They also got memories that will last then a lifetime and real life job experience. Money well spent.
posted by nathancaswell at 12:03 PM on September 10, 2011


The point of a J-1 visa is not to do menial jobs solely because the company didn't want to hire local people to do them. Urgh.
posted by divabat at 12:16 PM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


See I don't get the Cadbury love either. Ech. As far as regular chocolate goes, only the Mars/M&M (esp. Dove) stuff tastes decent to me...Hershey's idea of "special dark" chocolate is laughable.

Until I discover that Mars also exploits J-1 visa holders, guess I can feel morally superior while eating Dove bars.
posted by emjaybee at 12:56 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hershey process milk chocolate is cheaper to make than other types of chocolate as it is less sensitive to the freshness of the milk. The process is a trade secret, but experts speculate that the milk is partially lipolyzed, producing butyric acid, which stabilizes the milk from further fermentation. This compound gives the product a particular sour, "tangy" taste, to which the US public has become accustomed, to the point that other manufacturers often add butyric acid to their milk chocolates.

Ah, man, what the hell? I didn't know about this. So all chocolate made in America sucks? I thought non-Americans were just being haters when they said. My bad.
posted by nooneyouknow at 1:21 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


All milk chocolate is kind of gross anyway. And white chocolate is straight up disgusting.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:23 PM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Green & Black's, people. Green & Black's!
posted by pecanpies at 1:27 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Possibly the worst thing about Hershey, according to a pal that atten-....was sentenced there.

Basically Lord of the Flies in a cheap Dead Poet's Society costume.
posted by chronkite at 1:27 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hershey's got nothing on Disney, which actually created its own special visa so it could hire international workers cheap.
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:34 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hershey's doesn't even taste like chocolate to me. It's just...waxy sweetness. So as if I didn't already have enough of a reason to avoid all Hershey's products what with the godawful "chocolate", they've added deplorable labor practices.
posted by yasaman at 1:36 PM on September 10, 2011


All milk chocolate is kind of gross anyway. And white chocolate is straight up disgusting

Them are fighting words!
posted by ericb at 1:38 PM on September 10, 2011


nathancaswell: "All milk chocolate is kind of gross anyway. And white chocolate is straight up disgusting."

You can't get milk chocolate in America? Not "milk" "chocolate", mind.

I appreciate this post, actually, as the main subject is somewhat relevant to my job.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:53 PM on September 10, 2011


Seconding Green & Blacks- their dark with a hint of Madagascar Vanilla is tops.

White chocolate is not not not not not chocolate. It's mildly sweetened candle wax; not allowed in my house.
posted by parki at 3:40 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can't get milk chocolate in America? Not "milk" "chocolate", mind.

Not true. Anyone claiming this is being as ludicrous as the guy who claimed you couldn't get real cheese in America. I live about 10 minutes from Jacques Torres. I'm pretty sure he's not melting down Hershey bars in the back.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:30 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Keebler elves seen buying posterboard and markers en masse.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:18 PM on September 10, 2011


I'm extra glad now that Theo Chocolate is so close. (If you're in Seattle and have an afternoon to kill, try to get in on one of their factory tours. Well worth the $6 in samples alone.)
posted by hades at 5:55 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Green & Blacks FTW. But any decent dark chocolate from a good manufacturer will outclass Hershey by a large order of magnitude. Hershey tastes like plastic to me.
posted by arcticseal at 5:57 PM on September 10, 2011


This sort of encapsulates modern American labor history: Hershey's used to be a force for good.

Actually, Hershey has a bad history with labor. There was a 1937 sitdown strike by the CIO at Hershey's factory where the union was forcibly evicted by antiunion thugs recruited from the local community. There's even a history museum near Hersheypark, which once had an exhibit celebrating the eviction of the CIO, although it whitewashed the part about the antiunion violence.
posted by jonp72 at 7:12 PM on September 10, 2011


There was a reddit thread where a surprising number of people took Hershey's side. It was interesting. A lot of people seemed to think they should have just sucked it up and done the work, even though a lot of kids actually paid to come here

Is it possible that reddit and the YouTube vids are experiencing a form of astroturfing?

If you notice, the YouTube videos are filled with comments taking the side of Hershey as well from accounts that:

- had been opened very recently and have very little to no online activity with the exception of the Hershey vids.
- were opened in 2006/2007 and only recently signed in again.
- names feel either extremely generic and/or elude to Conservativeness.
- All eerily agree on the exact same thoughts
- Are quick to jump to personal insults and state they have nothing to do with Hershey
posted by HermanoBluth at 7:18 PM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Possibly the worst thing about Hershey, according to a pal that atten-....was sentenced there.

Basically Lord of the Flies in a cheap Dead Poet's Society costume.


For those who haven't followed chronkite's link, it's a reference to the Milton S. Hershey School, which used to be all-white and all-male, although it's now open to all races and genders. The school is evidently still dysfunctional enough that it has attracted a watchdog group. I have no direct experience of the Milton Hershey School myself, but one alumni who goes unmentioned on the school's Wikipedia page is Andrew Joseph Stack III, the tax protester who flew a plane into the Austin IRS building in 2010.
posted by jonp72 at 7:30 PM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


May I suggest an alternative, also located in PA?

Daffin's Candy.

Each piece of Daffin's candy continues to be hand-decorated, which is becoming a rarity in the candy business.

I don't really even eat chocolate. But woah this stuff is good.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 8:38 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dark Chocolate = Hipster Confections.

What is it that causes people to proclaim that the stuff everyone likes is crap, but the stuff they like is super awesome? I prefer milk chocolate to dark chocolate. Dark Chocolate just tastes bitter to me.
posted by delmoi at 9:21 PM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


And in other news, Hershey's ZooAmerica killed two bison during this week's flooding.
posted by MegoSteve at 9:27 PM on September 10, 2011


What is it that causes people to proclaim that the stuff everyone likes is crap, but the stuff they like is super awesome?

Your favourite chocolate isn't worth sucking.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:22 AM on September 11, 2011


I prefer milk chocolate to dark chocolate. Dark Chocolate just tastes bitter to me.

YOU ARE WRONG. YOU ARE WRONG AND I WILL FIGHT YOU. Nah, you're cool.

But seriously: dark chocolate. I can't stand milk chocolate. (Even good milk chocolate.) I find it way too sweet and cloying. Makes my face hurt. (Seriously.) I've been steadily upping my cacao percentage over the last few years, and anything from 72%-90% is in the sweet spot. Even 72 is bordering on too sweet for me. 85% is where it's at. Om nom nom.
posted by phunniemee at 4:15 AM on September 11, 2011


I almost cried when Hershey's bought Scharffen Berger. Thankfully, they sill make the same real chocolate, instead of the flotsam and jetsam that Hershey's calls chocolate.

There are high-quality chocolate makers everywhere. You don't even have to look all that hard. Please do yourself and your community the favor of finding and supporting your local chocolate makers.
posted by Revvy at 4:41 PM on September 11, 2011


I got a response from hershey:
We appreciate you taking the time to contact The Hershey Company about the student exchange workers participating in a cultural exchange program. Hershey is taking this matter very seriously, and we are working with our vendors, Exel, SHS and CETUSA to address the concerns of these students.

We do not operate the EDC-III facility. The EDC-III is operated by Exel, which staffs the facility. The Hershey Company, however, expects all of its vendors, including Exel, to treat employees fairly and equitably. The cultural student exchange program is an established program administered by the U.S. Dept of State.

As you can imagine, staffing levels fluctuate throughout the year based on production and inventory levels. To meet this demand, Exel uses temporary, seasonal employees as necessary. Exel is committed to staffing the facility with local employees and advertises job openings locally. Like other businesses in the area, the vendor cannot meet the seasonal needs of local employees. In those cases, the vendor uses workers on J-1 or “visitor visas.” This is an established program overseen by the U.S. State Department and used by many U.S. businesses to meet seasonal labor needs. Exel recently decided not to staff the facility with students in the cultural exchange program. Hershey strongly supports this decision.

I can tell you that The Hershey Company enjoys a very good relationship with our 13,000 employees. We offer very attractive wages and benefits as well as outstanding development opportunities for our employees. We regularly benchmark our wages against others in the regions where we operate. By doing this we can ensure that we offer competitive benefits and remain the employer of choice in Central Pennsylvania and in all the communities where we operate.

We appreciate your interest in The Hershey Company.
posted by empath at 11:12 AM on September 12, 2011


« Older Astronomy Photographer of the Year   |   "Amoebas don't make motorcycles and atomic bombs!" Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments