Despite being founded in the same city, in the same year and having the same name, Hershey’s ice cream and Hershey’s chocolate have no affiliation and in fact have had multiple legal disputes due to their shared name.

Hershey Creamery Company, also known as Hershey’s Ice Cream, is a creamery that produces Hershey’s brand ice cream, sorbet, sherbet, and frozen yogurt, and other frozen treats such as smoothies and frozen slab style ice cream mixers.

In the mid-1990s, the companies settled their most recent legal battles out of court, with the creamery agreeing to add a disclaimer to its ice cream products to note that it is not affiliated with The Hershey Company.

The Hershey brothers, Jacob, Isaac, John, Paris, and Eli, founded Hershey Creamery Company in 1894, with the company originally operating out of the Hershey family’s Lancaster County farmhouse.[1][2] The ice cream was packed in metal-lined wooden containers that the Hershey brothers designed and built.

In the 1920s, the company was merged with the Holder family’s Bethlehem-based Meyer Dairy Company, retaining the Hershey name.[3][4] In 1926, with demand for the ice cream exceeding the capacity of the farmhouse, the newly merged company constructed its first ice cream plant in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.[1][2] During the Great Depression, the company became the first ice cream maker to offer its products in pre-packaged pints.

While local orders continued to be delivered in small Hershey’s Ice Cream refrigerated trucks, the company shifted to transporting most of its ice cream to refrigerated tractor trailer trucks, enabling it to stretch its market beyond the state of Pennsylvania.[3] It expanded its distribution facilities, eventually occupying 22 co-owned distribution centers.

Trademark disputes with Hershey Company[edit]

Investigating complaints from retailers in Boston, New York, Binghamton, Norfolk, and Richmond, Ziegler reportedly found that retailers were confusing the two products, and sometimes deliberately replacing the higher priced Hershey Company products with the Hershey Creamery products.

In Harrisburg, Ziegler found a display of Hershey Creamery “Hershey Kisses”, which were bite-sized chocolate drops similar to the chocolate company’s creations.[7] After cease and desist letters failed to resolve the problem, Milton Hershey filed suit in 1921 in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania for trademark infringement.[7] In 1926, a district judged partially sided with Hershey Chocolate and prohibited the creamery from using the name Hershey’s in connection with “manufacture, advertisement, distribution, or sale of, among other things, chocolate, cocoa, chocolate confections, and chocolate or cocoa products”.

In 1958, the creamery registered for and was granted the “Hershey’s” trademark for use with ice cream and butter products.

Seven years later, the company filed suit in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against Hershey Company and Consolidated Foods Corporation after learning the companies were planning to partner to make a line of Hershey’s branded ice cream bars.

Hershey Company also agreed not to challenge the creamery’s “Hershey’s” trademark for use on ice cream again.

The creamery dropped its application, but continued releasing the products, so in May 1990, Hershey Company filed suit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania seeking a legal injunction to stop Hershey Creamery from producing and marketing its Hershey’s branded frozen yogurt, as well as to attempt to stop the company from using the “Hershey’s” trademark outside of its “traditional thirteen-state trading area” and to demand that the company include a disclaimer disavowing its relation to Hershey Company on all of its products.

After three years in court, the two companies again settled, with Hershey Creamery agreeing to put a disclaimer on all of its products, corporate website, and in promotional materials and press releases.[8] On their website, the disclaimer simply notes “not affiliated with Hershey’s Chocolate”.[9]

Unlike other ice cream makers, Hershey Creamery maintains ownership over its delivery trucks, distribution centers and warehouses, a practice the Holder family feels is important to maintaining the traditions of the “private, conservative” company.[8]

As of 2009, Hershey Creamery Company offers 98 flavors of regular, hand-dipped premium ice cream, with 31 of those varieties marked as super premium gold rim products and 4 available in no sugar added (NSA) varieties that use the alternate sweetening product Splenda.

Source: Hershey Creamery Company