Marketing campaign Begins Making Hershey’s Kisses Pennsylvania State Sweets | Information | Pittsburgh

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The effort was officially launched last week when State Representative Tom Mehaffie (R-Dauphin) a circulated memo on legislation to designate the kiss as the newest state symbol of Pennsylvania.

“Description of [Hershey’s] Kiss as the State Candy will not only pay more attention to our state, it will also commemorate a company and candy that forever influenced the economy and values ​​of our state, ”Mehaffie, whose Hershey district is a part of, wrote in the memo.

But the effort did not begin with Mehaffie, but in a classroom more than 160 kilometers from his district.

In an email, Richard Loughran, a 50-year-old history teacher at Newtown Middle School who heads the school’s social studies department, said he had started lobbying to help his students understand and participate in the government process .

“At a time when civic engagement is so important, showing children that they can get involved, have a voice and make a small impact,” Loughran said in an email. Such an experience, he added, was “necessary to have a more successful democracy”.

The group of students have moved out of Loughran’s class – they are now high school students – but have agreed to form a committee to move the kiss forward.

They built website and social media sites, branded “The Kiss 4 PA” for their efforts, and covering last year’s meeting with three lawmakers and representatives from Hershey.

The candy, which was first made in 1907, became a hit because of the Hershey company Bulk goods – and bulk packing – it machine, not hand, in his factory about 12 miles from Harrisburg.

Since then the production has been expanded across the globe, and the company changed the film color and introduced new flavors to suit the seasons, although the teardrop shape and small tissue paper label have remained constant. According to the company, 70 million kisses are still made in Pennsylvania every day.

A handful of states honor their local desserts, from whoopie pies in Maine to jell-o in Utah. But among Pennsylvania’s 16 state symbols, which include a state locomotive – steam and electric -, a state firearm, and a state fossil, only one honors something edible: the official state drink, milk.

But the Kisses, Loughran said, would be a smart addition because they demonstrate the state’s deep ties to manufacturing and the dairy industry.

To direct efforts in the state legislature, Loughran and his disciples turned to Mehaffie, whose county includes Hershey.

Mehaffie told the Capital star that he found the students’ pitch compelling. The kiss has been around “forever. It’s the keystone when it comes to candy, ”Mehaffie told the Capital star. “Everyone knows what a [Hershey’s] Kiss is. “

But the kiss could face sweet, sweet competition from other popular Commonwealth confectionery.

Corresponding a report for 2021 Pennsylvania’s confectionery industry is the third largest in the country after California and Illinois by the National Confectioners Associations, the confectionery industry lobby group. The group has 51 members in Pennsylvania.

Potential competitors for the state honorary gift include peeps made by the company in Bethlehem in the Lehigh Valley Just Born Quality Confectionery. These colorful, puffed up marshmallows in the shape of baby birds, rabbits, and other animals have been a staple of spring since 1953. Just Born also makes the Mike and Ike fruit candy capsules.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Hershey Kisses, but there are a lot of wonderful candy manufacturers in Pennsylvania,” said Steve Samuelson, a member of the Just Born district, the capital star.

Pennsylvania is also home to Dunmore-based Gertrude Hawk chocolates, known for its frequent appearances in youth fundraising catalogs, and based in Altoona Boyer sweetswho make the Clark Bar, a chocolate bar made from peanut butter and toffee, and the Mallo Cup, a chocolate mug filled with marshmallow.

State Representative Louis Schmitt, a Republican from Blair County that includes Boyer Candy, Altoona, didn’t say exactly where he was when he called the kiss official state candy.

“I think they do [Hershey’s] Kiss is a very fine candy and probably has a higher profile nationally, nationally and globally than anything that is made by Boyer Candy in Altoona, ”said Schmitt. “But the official candy of the state doesn’t mean the best candy in the state. What we have in Boyer Candy in Altoona is an embarrassment of riches. “

Picking just one of the company’s offerings would be like having a favorite child, he added; “You can’t beat Dark Mallo Cups though.”

Finally there is Souderton-based Ashers Chocolate Co., a brand of gourmet candy and chocolate-covered goodies that can often be found on the shelves in front of the HomeGoods checkout. Plus, the brand happens to be owned by longtime Republican power player Bob Asher, the poured Millions of dollars in the GOP’s political endeavors.

Still, Loughran expressed his confidence that the kiss’s long history and iconic form would prevail.

“While I’m sure some of the lawmakers will try to endorse a particular candy made in their district or specific constituency, we’re trying to pass a state symbol rather than a local symbol,” Loughran said. “Hershey cannot reasonably be discussed in this regard.”

For his part, Mehaffie hoped the effort could be a bridge for lawmakers to come together and work through the legislative process as intended while teaching students how to get involved in government.

“We react quickly instead of going through a process,” said Mehaffie. “We’ve missed that for the past decade or two.”

However, there has been some recent precedent for voluntary legislation to divide rather than unite the legislature. Between 2017 and 2019, the Pennsylvania House and the Senate, both Republican-led, argued over which salamander should be named the official state amphibian.

Students stood behind the Eastern Hellbender, saying the endangered species deserved the honor of highlighting the state’s water quality.

But then-Majority Leader of the House, Dave Reed (R-Indiana), offered a bill to designate the Wehrle’s salamander as a state amphibian. It is named for the naturalist who discovered it, who was from Reed’s district of Western Pennsylvania.

The students then had to get involved in a lobbying campaign to press the Hellbender crossed the finish line, handing out cookies and stickers in honor of the cause, before the state started the Eastern Hellbender with the to honor in 2019.

Nevertheless, some legislators disagreed at the time, grumbling that the effort was a diversion from more important matters the state was facing.

“I think our time should be spent on issues like abolishing property taxes for schools and a balanced, not new tax budget, not what the state amphibian should be,” State Representative Jerry Knowles (R-Schulykill) told Capital -Star at the time.

For his part, Loughran said he thought students were prepared for what lay ahead, no matter how long and challenging it might be.

“I believe this unique experience is a great opportunity to help students learn and grow in ways that a textbook or classroom experience simply cannot emulate,” said Loughran.

Stephen Caruso is a reporter for the Pennsylvania Capital star, where this story first appeared.

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