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Who Owns Hershey? A Look Into the Unique Ownership Structure

When one speaks of Hershey, the mind conjures images of delectable chocolates that have delighted taste buds for over a century. 

The Hershey Company stands as an iconic American chocolate empire, captivating the hearts of millions with its irresistible treats. 

Yet, amidst the allure of their chocolate creations, few are aware of the intriguing ownership structure that governs this renowned brand. 

In this article, we embark on a journey to uncover who owns Hershey, exploring its historical origins, key players, controversies, and the irresistible commitment to philanthropy that has shaped its destiny.

Who Owns Hershey? 

The History and Visionary Spirit of Hershey

Before delving into the intricacies of Hershey’s ownership, it is imperative to understand the company’s rich history.

In 1894, Milton S. Hershey, a visionary entrepreneur, established Hershey with the intent of bringing affordable and high-quality chocolate to the masses. 

Inspired by European confectionery craftsmanship, Hershey embarked on a mission to create a chocolate brand that would become synonymous with taste and accessibility.

Who owns Hershey? Detailed Guide

The Birth of the Hershey Trust Company

Central to the ownership mosaic of Hershey lies the enigmatic Hershey Trust Company

Milton Hershey founded this institution in 1905, intending it to function as the financial custodian of the Milton Hershey School. 

Established as an embodiment of philanthropic ideals, the Hershey Trust Company initially focused on managing the school’s financial affairs, enabling it to provide a transformative education to underprivileged children.

The Hershey Trust Company’s Quest for Benevolent Control

As time progressed, the Hershey Trust Company evolved to encompass a broader mandate embracing charitable endeavors beyond the school. 

Acting as the primary shareholder of the Hershey Company, the trust assumed the role of a responsible steward, ensuring the long-term sustainability and success of the chocolate empire. 

With its formidable ownership stake, the Hershey Trust Company wields significant control over the fortunes of the company, exemplifying a unique blend of philanthropy and business.

Decoding Hershey’s Ownership Structure

The ownership structure of Hershey deviates from the traditional norms of publicly traded corporations. 

The Hershey Trust Company holds an extensive portfolio of shares in the Hershey Company, cementing its position as the principal shareholder with substantial influence and decision-making power. 

This distinctive ownership apparatus differentiates Hershey from its counterparts, illustrating the primacy of humanitarian goals alongside commercial success.

Key Players in the Hershey Ownership Ecosystem

Unraveling the ownership labyrinth of Hershey necessitates an exploration of the key players involved. 

One cannot comprehend the landscape of Hershey’s ownership without acknowledging the pivotal position of the Hershey Trust Company:

Hershey Trust Company: At the heart of Hershey’s complex ownership structure is the Hershey Trust Company – a revered institution devoted to managing the Milton Hershey School endowment. 

The trust operates under the oversight of a dedicated board of directors responsible for safeguarding the interests of the school and the broader community.

Hershey Company: As a publicly traded corporation, the Hershey Company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. 

While the Hershey Trust Company is the principal shareholder, other investors partake in the ownership, albeit to a lesser extent. 

The Hershey Company oversees the daily operations, production, and global marketing of Hershey’s legendary chocolate products.

Ownership Controversies and the Battle for Independence

Hershey’s ownership journey has not been devoid of controversy. In the early 2000s, whispers emerged regarding a potential sale of Hershey to a rival firm, which sent shockwaves through the Hershey community and raised concerns about the company’s commitment to its philanthropic legacy. 

This trepidation reverberated through both the public and the Milton Hershey School community, igniting a battle to preserve the independence and unique ownership structure of Hershey.

Regulatory Intervention and Legal Safeguards

The controversies and threats to Hershey’s ownership integrity prompted regulatory intervention and the enactment of legal safeguards. 

These measures reinforced the imperative of preserving the distinct ownership structure and protecting the interests of the Hershey Trust Company, the Milton Hershey School, and the broader community. 

The legal restrictions on the sale of Hershey’s shares ensure the everlasting stability of the company as it continues to fulfill its philanthropic mission.

Recent Developments and Glimpses into the Future

In recent years, Hershey has witnessed noteworthy developments in its ownership landscape. 

In 2016, discussions surrounding potential changes in the ownership structure emerged, fueling speculation of involving external investors in Hershey’s affairs. 

However, these deliberations ultimately concluded without significant alterations to the status quo. 

The ownership structure of Hershey remains intact, preserving the rich legacy of Milton Hershey’s vision and philanthropic ideals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Hershey a publicly traded company?

Yes, the Hershey Company is a publicly traded corporation with shares listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

How much control does the Hershey Trust Company exercise over Hershey’s operations?

The Hershey Trust Company, as the principal shareholder, exerts substantial control and influence over the strategic decisions guiding the company’s affairs.

Can the ownership structure of Hershey change in the future?

Although discussions surrounding potential changes have arisen in the past, the future of Hershey’s ownership structure remains uncertain, subject to a multitude of factors and considerations.

Hershey's ownership

What implications does the Hershey Trust Company’s ownership have for the Milton Hershey School?

The ownership of Hershey by the Hershey Trust Company aligns seamlessly with its core mission of supporting the Milton Hershey School, ensuring the continuation of the school’s noble and transformative educational endeavors.

Are there any legal constraints on the sale of Hershey’s shares?

The unique ownership structure and governance governed by the Hershey Trust Company impose legal restrictions that preserve the company’s long-term stability and commitment to philanthropic causes.


Delving into the layers of Hershey’s ownership structure illuminates a captivating journey intertwined with history, philanthropy, and a quest for sweet success. 

The Hershey Trust Company’s pivotal role as the principal shareholder reflects Milton Hershey’s profound commitment to altruism, a legacy carefully safeguarded over decades. 

As the confectionery industry evolves, casting its spell on new generations, Hershey’s ownership structure remains an unwavering anchor harnessing the company’s destiny, ensuring a legacy of sweetness and philanthropic excellence for generations to come.