The emperors of chocolate Inside the secret word of Hershey and Mars

Hershey and Mars have been in competition since 1911. They both want to be the number one market in the US.   Hershey even accusing Mars of selling plastic, not chocolate.  That is pretty harsh and did not take long for Mars get a hold of the rumor.  These rumors came from Mars selling non melting candy.  While the feud and completion took up a lot of the first three chapters, I would like to focus on how Mars faced a huge roadblock and succeeded.

Mars products faced a taunting time after expanding their business in the Persian Golf.  Saddam Hussein decided to attack Kuwait.  All of the Mars executives were in a frenzy trying to figure out how to keep their products in circulation.  They came together and thought outside of the box.  After a few days of working together, they came up with a marketing plan.  The quickly went to all of their distributors, encouraging them that the bars would sell quickly, they would not have money tied up in inventory, and they would have the companies support during the crisis.  Once orders began coming in, they then focused on the military supplying not on US troops but also Britain troops. They developed a bar that had 600 calories in it for the troops while also able to with stand 120 heat and water.  All of these qualifications had to meet standards.  “Mars was the only company to operate an air-conditioned distribution warehouse and control an enormous fleet of refrigerated supply trucks, a noon to the troops who were being scattered throughout the 400,000 square mile of Saudi Desert” (Brenner, pg8).  Mars completely stepped outside of the box and not only found way to deliver their candy, came up with a way to have candy that will not melt in the desert, but they also helped the troops out during the process.  

                Though not exactly the same, we have faced many challenges this past year. COVID has affected my job making me think outside the box.  I am the Development Coordinator at Lenoir Community College which means I do all the fundraising/events to raise money for scholarships.  We have had to cancel many events, therefor losing a lot of money.  We did not have an alumni program, so that is something I have started and am continually building, started marketing plan for the foundation and do more direct contact with donors.  As a team, we are turning a hard situation into opportunities.  Another example is our thank you notes that all of our scholarship recipients have to write.  Normally we take group pictures and put them in the paper.  This past year we took individual pictures of the recipients, sent their picture with the thank you and this left us with faces for marketing.  It was a win-win for everyone. 

Brenner, Joel G, 1999. The emperors of chocolate.  Inside the secret world of Hershey and mars.


  1. Hi Katherine,

    These were great observations and I find it very interesting to read about. As a kid, I grew up in a town with a Mars factory and my neighbor next to us worked there most of his life. I had never really though about the feud between the two companies or the innovative strategies they would seek to implement within their individual infrastructures. I also like that you brought up how COVID has shifted many operations. Many companies have had to greatly revise their business plans to meet unique conditions or limitations. It certainly forces many companies to extend outside of their comfort zones and have new approaches to problems they face. Excellent blog and I look forward to reading more about this!


  2. Katherine,

    I am sure that the book is an interesting read. I grew up in central Pennsylvania and lived around 45 minutes from Hershey, PA. Having Hershey right down the road made things almost surreal when hearing or reading about stories such as this. It’s hard to imagine the world of candy making as being a cutthroat industry, yet it is. It is good to know that companies such as Mars do not let any disinformation hold them back from creating a great product. At the end of the day, it sounds like Mars took care of their customers and got the job done. Looking forward to more posts about chocolate wars!


  3. Hi Katherine,

    I had no idea about the feud between Hersey and Mars but makes sense as they are direct competitors! Mars was creative in how they kept their product in circulation, even during uncertain times. Similar to you during COVID, I have had to become creative as well in how to market events and to even hold events. As the Transfer Advisor, I typically would visit local community colleges to talk to prospective students. Without having the ability to travel the past year, I had to think and act quickly during the Spring 2020 semester. The end results were being able to use zoom and I believe it is something we can use in the future.

    Interesting how tough situations can actually lead to innovations!

    Looking forward to your next blog!

    Katie Moore


  4. Hey Katherine,

    This past year has certainly forced a lot of companies to become more innovative and increase critical thinking skills, much like your department at Lenior Community College and Mars during WW2, which I think is a great thing because it means everyone in our world/society in some shape/form/fashion has had to grow and develop in a good way.

    In my industry, we had to be innovative and think of how our product/service could benefit our clientele during a pandemic. We have an application that is called a “DVIR,” also known as a Driver’s Vehicle Inspection Report that is mainly used with over the road truckers for safety inspections pre and post-trip to make sure the commercial vehicle is safe to go out on the road, we made our application customizable, so we could add Cov19 checklist as well, such as a check box for wearing a mask. We also offer dash cams where we added options where the camera could see if someone is wearing their mask or putting it on in certain industries before entering someone’s house for a service call.

    I enjoyed your reflection and looked forward to more to come.


    Stokes Warren


  5. Hi Katherine!
    It is great to read your posts again and it sounds like you are enjoying your book. I never knew about the rivalry between Hershey and Mars, but it totally makes sense. What you described in your post reminds me of the scenes in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” about stealing products for the competitor, Slugworth.

    Sometimes having a close competitor can drive you to work harder and be more innovative than you would without one. In the crafting world we like to share our patterns, tips, and tricks to inspire and teach fellow crafters. I have gained some pretty valuable knowledge just from making conversation at craft markets and shows. However, in the tech world, I would imagine that sharing knowledge would not be the case.

    Looking forward to more of your posts this semester!


  6. Reading Mars’ and your personal stories makes me want to do more research into the innovative ways companies have been able to survive through the pandemic. Mars’ idea to serve the troops during a time of crisis in order to keep their product relevant was absolutely ingenious and I would love to see other success stories like this.

    I too work in higher education and understand the difficulties you faced due to the pandemic, but I applaud you, Lenior Community College and all of the other higher education institutions that were able to find ways to serve your students and community during a time of crisis. Even in our industry, it has become apparent that competition will always continue even if the world seems to be standing still. We have to remain innovative and, like Mars, find a way to keep ourselves relevant and moving.


  7. Hi Katherine,
    This is an interesting summary about the relationship between the two companies and how Mars approached the competition. This would have been a good case study for the book that I am reading, Blue Ocean Strategy. The authors share how companies that move their focus from simply fighting competition to creating new markets and emphasizing what is different about themselves, will become industry leaders. The Mars Corporation’s approach would have been described as a blue ocean strategy.


  8. COVID is certainly one of the largest hardships the entire planet has faced in history. I, myself, was certainly affected throughout the pandemic. I lost loved ones throughout 2020, I have fought for income, I have seen and experienced the damage a pandemic can do. However, some have seen more business success than anything else. Facing adversity in an innovative manner can certainly provide growth to an extent.


  9. Katherine,

    Great connection!

    Since the pandemic, my creativity of thinking of different innovations has been at an ultimate high. We can see this in the business world as well. Many companies are coming up with other products and designs that best suit consumer struggles. I hope this same innovative drive and creativity will remain the same at the end of the pandemic.


    A. Avery Jones


  10. Katherine,

    Great connection!

    Since the pandemic, my creativity of thinking of different innovations has been at an ultimate high. We can see this in the business world as well. Many companies are coming up with other products and designs that best suit consumer struggles. I hope this same innovative drive and creativity will remain the same at the end of the pandemic.


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