These Guys Were Really Into Chocolate

by Kevin Burton

   More than once I’ve gotten myself into a sticky situation and needed rescuing, but never like this.

   Two workers were rescued by firefighters after falling into a vat of chocolate at the Mars-Wrigley plant in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania June 9.

   “It’s a real life Willy Wonka story,” wrote  “At the Mars M&M factory in Elizabethtown, Penn., two factory workers endured what might be a child’s dream: falling into a vat of chocolate. In reality, it was a workplace nightmare.”

   “Augustus Gloop is quaking,” joked Rolling Stone.

   Multiple sources reported the story of course. It was much too delicious to pass by.  But the reporting, like eating just a few of M&Ms, left me wanting more.  

   The two were doing maintenance work on the partially-filled vat. But no one has said how they fell in. “Officials said it was unclear” how they fell in, according to a story in The Guardian.

   Well it’s quite clear to somebody how they fell in, but they aren’t talking. Can’t say I blame them.  And their names haven’t been released either. That’s a detail I wish we had. For their sake though it’s obviously better this way.

   Imagine having your name tied to something like that, “two nuts dipped in chocolate.” Imagine Letterman doing a “top ten nicknames for the chocolate people.” reported that the chocolate in the tank was about waist-high at the factory in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and that the people were unhurt but unable to get out on their own. The chocolate in the vat was variously described as warm and dry.

   The trouble started around 1:51 p.m., a county official said.   Local TV station WHTM said that the first person was extracted at 3:10 pm and the second 15 minutes later.

   The workers were taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation.  One was transported by ambulance, one by helicopter, according to CNN.

   Some reports said the workers were from a separate company contracted to do the maintenance, some said they were Mars workers.

   If they were Mars workers I wonder if the first response from their caring co-workers was concern or high hilarity. 

   I’ve never been in waist-high chocolate, but it sounds like something one could get out of.  There didn’t appear to be any witnesses, according to the reporting.  I wonder if the two tried to get out on their own, failed, then reluctantly called for assistance.

   The Elizabethtown Fire Department made the rescue, the Lancaster County emergency dispatch spokesperson said.

   Emergency responders were able to free the pair by cutting a hole in the tank, officials said. They first rejected the idea of pulling the two out from the top.

    “We’re extremely grateful for the quick work of the first responders,” said a Mars company spokesperson.

   “Death by Chocolate” is a popular term for various desserts, especially dark or double-chocolate ones. Fortunately this situation never got near that.

   Happily we are able to laugh at the situation because no one was seriously hurt.  It’s funny, I normally wouldn’t write about an industrial accident. Also, if the two workers had fallen into, say, baking soda, I wouldn’t be doing this story.

   “A federal agency is investigating after two people were rescued Thursday from a chocolate tank at the Mars Wrigley plant in Lancaster County.,” wrote the York Daily Record.  “The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the incident, according to a spokesperson. The agency has six months to conduct its investigation and release its findings.”

   An OSHA official declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

  Again, the chocolate covering this story makes this the first and probably last OSHA report I would be eager to read.

   “The factory is 12 miles from Hershey, Pennsylvania, and it is well known for making a variety of products including M&Ms and Dove chocolate,” reported from India.

    Mars Wrigley is the maker of M&M’s, Snickers, Twix and other confections.

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1 Comment

  1. I never caught this on the news but in all seriousness, if that chocolate had been very warm, as in hot, they could have come out with some serious burns. They may not have been near death but if one was in fact taken by ambulance to the hospital and the other by helicopter that sound like there really was something serious happening and that’s no joke. Seems like a hilarious accident, and one they won’t soon put in the past, yet one has to wonder what happened and how serious the results were. On the company end of things, the least of their own damage was the cost of the chocolate they then could no longer use. Yikes!

    Tracy Duffy



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