Can you say peppermint patty in Spanish?

Melissa Stagnaro

When I read yesterday that Hershey was laying off workers and closing the plant which makes the York Peppermint Patties, I was astonished. If you knew the extent of my chocolate fixation, you would understand why. I was confident that my addiction to all that is chocolately and good single-handedly supported the North American operations of several candy companies, including the icon of American chocolate, Hershey itself.

Apparently, I was wrong.

My mind started to race frantically as it searched for an explanation. Did too many people limit their consumption of chocolate confections as part of misguided New Year’s Resolutions? Had the sluggish economy lead fewer people to indulge on “sweets for their sweet” this Valentines’ Day?

Or maybe it’s the fact that Lent is approaching, when at least 50 percent of all Catholics swear off chocolate. (The remainder will probably be split between booze and Facebook this year. I’m still deciding.)

The chocoholic in me hit panic mode, suddenly wondering where my next chocolate fix would come from. All I could think was, “Oh my god they’re going under! Quick, buy more chocolate.” I went immediately for my emergency stash of Mallo Cups.

When I had stopped hyperventilating, I continued reading the article. You see, I hadn’t yet made it to the second sentence. Where it was explained that Hershey was closing its Reading facility and putting 300 people out of work not because it was struggling financially, but because it was moving the operation south of the boarder. And I’m not talking about that anticlimactic amusement park off I-95.

That’s right. The company, which has served as a model of American industry and introduced the world to the Hershey Kiss, is moving more of its production to Mexico.
Now, Hershey having foreign manufacturing plants is nothing new. They have about 20 plants in total across the US, Canada, Mexico and even in Brazil.

But the layoff of 300 workers in Reading, PA is just the beginning of their restructuring plans, which they just after Valentine’s Day. You know, when we were all evidently too busy indulging in all that chocolate to pay attention. 1,500 employees could lose their jobs as a result of this plan, which will shift even more production out of the US and ultimately cut 11.5 percent of the company’s total workforce.

How do I feel about this? I’d say I’m not happy. Our economy is struggling, people are losing their jobs and companies are closing. And Hershey is shifting production out of the US. I know, not all of it, but still.

I never thought I’d say it, but for once, the thought of a Hershey Bar leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Maybe I will give up chocolate for Lent after all.