The Emperors of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars

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9780679421900: The Emperors of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars

Forrest Mars and Milton Hershey built business empires out of chocolate. In this long-awaited history of the candy business, over eight years in the making, former Washington Post reporter Joël Glenn Brenner tells a unique story that is like chocolate itself, a rich blend of many compelling ingredients--in this case, biography and cultural history, investigative reporting and literary journalism. Along the way, Brenner takes us inside a world as mysterious as Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, where industrial spies jockey for inside information as paranoid executives fight an all-out war for America's sweet tooth.
        
Forrest Mars, often called "the Howard Hughes of candy," was one of the most successful (and private) entrepreneurs in America, a brilliant autocrat who built a unique $20-billion-a-year empire. Milton Hershey was a dreamer who wanted to create not just a company but an industrial paradise, and after making an immense fortune, he promptly gave it all away. To this day, the Hershey company is controlled by a charitable trust and its profits fund the wealthiest orphanage in the world.
        
What began as a fraternity of small family-owned businesses has grown into a cutthroat industry increasingly dominated by corporate leviathans fighting for shelf space and swallowing their smaller competitors. Joël Glenn Brenner's investigation of this cloistered world is authoritative, eye-opening, and written with deep understanding of and feeling for her subject.

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Review:

The chocolate wars between industry giants Hershey and Mars are anything but sweet. In The Emperors of Chocolate, Joel Glenn Brenner reveals the bitter legal and marketing fights, palace intrigue, and personality clashes that dominate Hershey and Mars--and the candy industry as a whole. A talented writer and dogged researcher, Brenner concludes that after decades of competition between the two companies, the drama still is unfolding. Will Mars--privately held and publicity shy--be the ultimate winner with its global game plan? Or will it be Hershey--publicly traded and philanthropy-minded--with its aggressive strategy of growth by acquisition?

Brenner, a former Washington Post financial reporter, tells the stories of how Forrest Mars Sr. and Milton S. Hershey turned their two companies from small mom-and-pop operations into international forces over the last century. While they may have started small, their products--Mars's Snickers and M&M's and Hershey's milk-chocolate bars and Kisses--are ubiquitous. Hershey was a benevolent philanthropist who spent hundreds of millions to create a town and orphanage to fulfill his altruistic dreams. Mars was a short-tempered perfectionist who yelled at anyone who failed to meet his standards. "What made Forrest's blood rush was the thrill of mastering new opportunities and taming uncharted worlds," the author writes. "Like Milton Hershey, he was driven by his visions; but where Milton Hershey saw utopia, Forrest Mars saw conquest." Nine years in the making, The Emperors of Chocolate is a satisfying read about the two titans of the chocolate world and how they capitalized on our love of sweets. --Dan Ring

From the Publisher:

"The Emperors of Chocolate is a sweet treat....In a book sure to satisfy anyone who salivates over Snickers bars from Mars and Hershey's Kisses, Brenner strips off chocolate's seductive outer layer to reveal an industry as bitter and contentious as its products are sweet...delicious fun."
        --USA Today

"Astonishing and immensely readable....Miss Brenner paints a compelling picture of the industry leaders--the emperors, as she calls them--and their motivations. Hers is not a morality play in which the reader feels required to draw a single ethical conclusion as to which emperor is to be admired and which to be criticized. It is a story of human behavior with all of the complexities that the author has managed to find inside a bar of chocolate and passes on to the rest of us who are not qualified to see through a candy wrapper unaided."
        --Roger Starr, The Washington Times

"Forrest Mars and Milton Hershey effortlessly hold center stage in this superb study of their competing candy companies....Brenner has produced a stellar work of corporate history."
        --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Stock up on Godiva and Goo-Goo Bars and be entertained by this substantial report, without sugar coating, on a surefire topic."
        --Kirkus Reviews

"A remarkable book...Joel Brenner slices through much of the secrecy that has encased the history and inner workings of Mars and Hershey since their origins around the turn of the century. Brenner delivers an engaging and authoritative look inside the two candy kingdoms and draws memorable portraits of the remarkable men who created the American chocolate industry...Above all, the book is a bravura performance of reporting."
        --The Chicago Tribune

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