The year was 1907. Theodore Roosevelt was president of the United States, Oklahoma had been admitted as 46th state in the Union, and Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses came into the nation’s collective candy-loving conscious.
Hershey’s has been planting its chocolaty kisses on Americans for more than 110 years. Today, the bite-sized candy is the 5th most popular chocolate brand in the country, with sales topping $400 million. To keep up with demand, more than 60 million Hershey’s Kisses are produced each day between the company’s two factories.
So how exactly did this iconic candy get its lovable name?
While no one alive today was there to witness the first bottom-heavy, bite-sized, chocolaty blob hit the conveyor belt, urban lore has it that the tasty treat was named for the lip-smacking sound the machinery made when dropping the melty chocolates during the manufacturing process. Naysayers argue that the word “kiss” had been a common confectionary term used to describe a variety of generic candies anyone might make, such as molasses kisses, nut kisses, and coconut kisses. While it’s left to be debated, it was Milton S. Hershey who received the trademark, and the Hershey’s company who made good use of the romantic imagery, forever creating the association between love and chocolate Kisses.
Also see, the History of the Heart-Shaped Box of Chocolates.
During those first few years, all Hershey Kisses were wrapped by hand, but in 1921, a machine was made so that the Kisses could be wrapped automatically.
A few years later, in 1924, the plume was added, for which Milton S. Hershey received a registered trademark.
In 1942, World War II briefly interrupted Hershey’s candy production. Aluminum rationing meant Kisses were put on hold. Instead, those machines were used to create chocolate paste used to create the military ration bar for soldiers’ meals. The company created more than 3 billion bars during the war.
The famous Kiss foil wrapper was officially trademarked in 1976. The original silver-foil was the only option for decades, but beginning 1962 Kisses were available in red, green and silver-wrappers to coincide with the Christmas season. In 1968, pastel pink, blue, and green were introduced for Easter. And in 1986, red and silver were released for Valentine’s Day. Fall-themed colors were introduced in 1991. Wrappers with prints such as little hearts and Hugs (introduced in 1993) stripes have appeared since.
By 1989, Hershey’s Kisses were the fifth most popular candy in the United States. Today, Kisses brand chocolates still use Milton Hershey’s original milk chocolate recipe, though other flavors are available in the permanent collection, including Rich Dark Chocolate (2003), and Chocolate Filled with Caramel (2004).
Also see, Chocolate Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies.