Reporting from Hershey, Pa.--
After more than a century, the town that chocolate built still makes its namesake confection and remains a candy lover's nirvana.
Billed as the "Sweetest Place on Earth," the company town has grown over the last century to include a theme park, visitors center, museum, gardens, hotels and restaurants that celebrate all things chocolate.
Last year the Hershey Co. announced plans to move production from the 1905 plant built by Milton S. Hershey in downtown Hershey to a new facility on the outskirts of town. But despite the factory's imminent relocation, the town still smells of cocoa, and chocolate remains the constant theme in everything, including rides, shows, tours, spa treatments, candy classes and dinner entrees.
Hersheypark, the best-known attraction in town, offers walk-around candy bar characters, a Reese's peanut butter cup-themed interactive dark ride and an observation tower covered in giant Hershey Kisses. The park, which combines the attention to detail of Disney with the coaster collection of Six Flags, even issues chocolate currency in $1, $5 and $10 denominations.
Chocolate World, Hershey's visitors center, features chocolate tasting, candy-bar making, a cocoa-scented 3-D show, a ride-through tour of the company's history and, of course, free samples.
During the Chocolate Tasting Adventure at Chocolate World, visitors learn to detect 15 flavor notes, from woodsy and floral to fruity and buttery in a sample-filled tasting session.
At the corner of Cocoa and Chocolate Avenues, the Hershey Story museum recounts the life of Hershey the man while taking visitors through a Chocolate Lab for hands-on demonstrations and offering chocolate-tasting classes
In the Chocolate Lab at the museum, students learn the difference between dark, milk and white chocolate in a hands-on class that teaches how to temper, mold, dip and make chocolate.
At the Countries of Origin Chocolate Tasting class at the museum, visitors become cocoa connoisseurs by drinking samples of fruity African chocolate and caramel-infused Indonesian chocolate.
The 23-acre Hershey Gardens, which opened in 1937, is filled with flora with chocolate scents, names and colors.
In its 10th year, the Chocolate Spa at the Hotel Hershey offers chocolate fondue body wraps, cocoa facial masks and whipped chocolate milk baths. The $500, five-hour Chocolate Decadence service includes all of the above plus a sugar scrub, cocoa massage and a chocolate martini.
The chocolate craze extends to signature entrees at Hershey's hotels at the resort, such as cocoa-dusted venison loin and pork chops with chocolate barbecue sauce. And of course, no meal would be complete in "Chocolatetown, USA" without dessert -- including white chocolate cheesecake and chocolate cream pie.