Searching for real food…in Hershey Park

We parents love our children. Oh, how we love those little buggers. And if there was ever any need for proof, here it is:

That's me. At Hershey Park.

That's me. At Hershey Park.

Hershey Park, in Hershey, Pennsylvania, the self-declared “sweetest place on earth.” We spent a day and a half there, on our way home from the Blue Ridge Mountains.

It’s clear we’re not the only ones who came here solely for the kids. You could see the evidence of parental devotion everywhere: The father carrying a kicking toddler, trying in vain to pull his face away from the stuffed monkey with which his son was walloping him. The mother who literally cried on the rapid spinning “Claw” ride (heretofore known to my own family as the Claw of Death) as her kids whooped with merriment. The mother entering a bathroom stall with her daughter, steering the child around what appeared to be a tiny piece of poo sitting on the floor.

But enough about parenting. Let’s get to the topic at hand: can real food be found in Hershey Park?

At Hershey, children are handed chocolate as soon as they arrive at the park:

it is not yet 10 AM.

Note: it is not yet 10 AM.

At Hershey, one can find a variety of snacks. If by snacks, you mean loads and loads of candy in king-size packaging:

Don’t worry: some of the chocolate is organic. So it must be healthy.

At Hershey Park, you can watch a group called the Milkmen dance and sing about the value of milk as a vehicle delivery for Hershey’s genuine chocolate flavor syrup:

Here, they are singing "I'm a milkman" to the tune of "I'm a soul man." And, yes, the audience is entranced, and applauding.

Here, they are singing "I'm a milkman" to the tune of the Blues Brothers' "I'm a Soul Man." And, yes, the audience is watching. And clapping in time with the music.

You can find hot dogs and corn dogs, though the title of this particular stop, combined with the image of a grinning rodent rising from the food, makes you wonder just what kind of meat is inside those wieners:

For $3.00, you can get a small bottle of water:

This water looked pretty good after standing online for 35 minutes for the Comet ride. Unfortunately, I only had $2.75 in cash.

Huh. Did you know that Aquafina is simply bottled tap water, even when it costs $3.00?

Or, for $4.75, you can get the juice of 1 lemon added to 32 ounces of high fructose corn syrup water:

Which your six-year-old cradles lovingly, declaring it the very best, most delicious lemonade she has ever had.

Which your six-year-old cradles lovingly, declaring it the very best, most delicious lemonade she has ever had.

You can stand in line for ice cream:

These folks thought that the "blue goo" flavor was especially tasty.

These folks heard that the "blue goo" flavor came highly recommended.

Or cotton candy:

But look! You can also find fruits:

And vegetables:

I have to confess. This booth smelled delicious.

I have to confess: this booth smelled delicious.

And when at lunchtime, the Kosher food tent proves elusive, and you send your husband in search of something “with ingredients that you will recognize,” you might end up with something that looks like this:

On the other hand, at Hershey Park, your six-year old can get a hair wrap:

When your two year old falls down and bloodies her chin, the kind folks at the infirmary give her a band-aid AND a purple stuffed dog:

And your kids can participate in any and all of this:

Which they do. Fueled, I might add, entirely by chocolate, ice cream, candy-coated pretzels, pixy stix, tacos, nachos, and high fructose corn syrup.

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12 Responses to “Searching for real food…in Hershey Park”

  1. 1 Anna September 3, 2008 at 9:03 am

    Gosh, I remember Hershey Park, about oh no, about 35 years ago. But I only vaguely remember amusement rides and other “amusement” features that would now probably make me recoil. So I am guessing my parents were exercising extreme thrift (3 kids and a single self-employment income), which limits the majority of the amusement park excesses (when weren’t they exercising thrift?).

    I do remember a very fun pseudo-factory tour feature that made me think I was in Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. I also remember having an ice cream cone, and perhaps a large chocolate bar later in the car (my mom probably bought a miltipack and divvied it out, but always my my mother made sure to feed us from the car picnic cooler before we went inside any sort of place that sold expensive junk food. I desperately wanted another mother back then, but not now. :-)

  2. 2 rachel September 3, 2008 at 10:24 am

    I always go to the perogie place or the kosher foods stand at Hershey–much healthier fare there!

  3. 3 Vikki September 3, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    I’m afraid I don’t recognize the food you ended up with that had “ingredients you could recognize”. What IS that?

    As for the rest, that is an impressive amount of junk food and FUN. I’m tired just looking at the pics.

  4. 4 Kai September 3, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    I’m with Vikki…what WAS that you ate???

  5. 5 Pamela September 3, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    I too, have memories of visiting Hershey. My grandparents lived in upstate NY and we went there one time while traveling to see them. Not one picture you took is remotely similar to any of my memories. But then again, the only memory I have is of a man giving me a giant chocolate bar and going on a boat ride down a chocolate river. I don’t think I’ll ever go back. I want to remember it the way it was.

  6. 6 AJ September 3, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    No, seriously….what was that??

  7. 7 Anna September 3, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    I recognize it! It is an opened bean burrito, though it does look more like something unfortunate after one of spinning rides, right? Some things just don’t translate well in close-up photos or out of context.

    I’ll bet it’s made with pronuncable and recognizeable 100% artery clogging PUFA or hydrogenated vegetable oil, too, instead of the nice healthy, mostly monosaturated lard that used to used in refried bean burritos and other “Mexican” foods. Oh, there I go again, getting contrary…

    Wonder if there were any gyro/kebab/Greek/Turkish/Lebanese food stands at Hershey park? That’s my kind of fair and amusement park food!

  8. 8 TWBernard September 3, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    While it has little to do with the fantastic array of carnival treats, huggable beverages, or chocotastic splendiferousness you encountered on your visit to the park, I recently read The Emperors of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars, by Joël Glenn Brenner.

    Think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Now replace the whimsy and Ooompa-Loompa songs with a hundred years of inter- and intra-company rivalry, innovation, and profit, and you’ve got a sense of what the book’s all about. It was published eight or nine years or so ago, so it’s a bit dated.

    It’s halfway decent if you like that sort of thing, and I think you might, if only to the degree it provides some context on where you’ve been.

  9. 9 Bonnie September 4, 2008 at 2:06 am

    We totally did the Sea World version of this about 2 months ago. There is no question in my mind now about why we have such a problem with obesity.

  10. 10 cleanerplateclub September 4, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Anna’s right – it’s a bean burrito. Not terrible, just not…pretty. Had we found the kosher stand (which, if you ever go, turns out to be RIGHT AT the park entrance, kind of in its own world), we could have gotten a falafel, and it turns out that there was a gyro stand where we could have gotten a spinach pie – near the taco/burrito stand, which we didn’t see. There’s also a Subway, though the line for that was out of control – it reminded me of years ago, when I went outlet shopping on Black Friday, and the J.Crew store literally had bouncers at the door, letting shoppers in only as others left the store.

    Bonnie – you know, if it were only one day at the park, I’d say “no big deal.” But the truth is, these are the choices that face most Americans most of the time. Earlier that day, at the Holiday Inn breakfast buffet, the majority of the offerings were heaping helpings of fatty animal proteins and super-sugary (or, rather, super-HFCS-y) options. I was looking around that morning, thinking, “well, no wonder. No wonder we have an obesity problem, and a heart disease problem, and a diabetes problem.” For most people, most of the choices are just bad ones. In enormous proportions.

    Wait. I forgot. There are no “bad” choices, right? There’s room in a healthy diet for all foods. Right? (sure…in moderation. But what’s moderation these days?)

    We missed chocolate world, as it turns out. The apparently-short line for the hair wrap took over an hour – the hour we’d planned to spend on the tour. For the record, I did my best not to mutter curses about little girls with 20-inch hair, who get multiple wraps.

  11. 11 Shutter Bitch September 4, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    In other words, no. Real food can’t be found at Hershey Park.

  12. 12 stilllifeinbuenosaires September 21, 2008 at 12:00 am

    Your post cracks me up, especially your daughter’s adoring lemonade grin.

    I’m impressed the park offered falafel!

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