HERSHEY, Pa., March 21 /PRNewswire/ -- The Hershey Company, the largest North American manufacturer of quality chocolate and sugar confectionery products, expands its Goodness Chocolate portfolio with the debut of Hershey(R)'s Antioxidant Milk Chocolate and Hershey(R)'s Whole Bean Chocolate. These innovative chocolates join Hershey(R)'s Extra Dark(TM) Chocolate and Hershey(R)'s Sticks brands in offering consumers great-tasting Hershey's chocolate with good-for-you benefits. Hershey's Goodness Chocolate portfolio is available nationwide at mass retail, drug, grocery and specialty stores.

"Consumers are very interested in the goodness benefits of chocolate, including the antioxidants found naturally in dark chocolate," said Michele Buck, Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, The Hershey Company. "This interest is driving explosive growth in dark chocolate. Now, Hershey's Antioxidant Milk Chocolate and Hershey's Whole Bean Chocolate bring the goodness benefits of dark chocolate to the broader milk chocolate category."

Hershey's Antioxidant Milk Chocolate features more flavanol antioxidants than the leading dark chocolate (260 mg of flavanol antioxidants per 40 g serving, versus 110 mg in the leading dark chocolate), while delivering the great taste of Hershey's Milk Chocolate. Its creamy, smooth texture contains all the goodness of dark chocolate in a delicious milk chocolate bar.

Hershey's Whole Bean Chocolate is made with the goodness of the whole cocoa bean to create a mildly sweet, smooth and delicious chocolate that is lower in sugar (40 percent less than the leading milk chocolate bar) and high in fiber and antioxidants. One serving of Hershey's Whole Bean Chocolate has seven grams of fiber and 180 mg of flavanol antioxidants per 40 g serving.

Hershey's Goodness line of products delivers wellness benefits without sacrificing great taste. Hershey's Antioxidant Milk Chocolate and Hershey's Whole Bean Chocolate join Hershey's Extra Dark Chocolate and Hershey's Sticks in the Hershey's Goodness Chocolate portfolio. Hershey's Extra Dark Chocolate debuted in 2005 and features three expressions: Hershey's Extra Dark Pure Dark Chocolate, Hershey's Extra Dark Cranberries, Blueberries and Almonds, and Hershey's Extra Dark Macadamia Nuts and Cranberries. Each contains good-for-you natural flavanol antioxidants and features 60 percent cacao dark chocolate. Hershey's Sticks are a convenient, guilt-free way to indulge in chocolate. Hershey's Sticks come in four smooth and creamy flavors -- Rich Dark Chocolate, Mint Milk Chocolate, Milk Chocolate and Caramel-filled Milk Chocolate. Each Stick is perfectly sized, containing only 60 calories per stick.

Cocoa and Antioxidant Flavanols
Scientific studies have shown that specific, naturally occurring compounds from cocoa beans called flavanols may be good for your health. Flavanols can act as antioxidants and also are found in other plant foods like berries, teas and red wine. Recent data from scientists at Hershey as well as the United States Department of Agriculture indicate that cocoa beans, the seeds of the fruit of the cocoa tree, are one of the most concentrated known sources of flavanol antioxidants. To help consumers better identify chocolates that contain higher levels of natural flavanol antioxidants, The Hershey Company designed a distinctive antioxidant seal, which is found on the packaging of all Hershey's Goodness Chocolate products. Like all indulgent treats, Hershey's Goodness Chocolate should be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy diet and active lifestyle.

Hershey's Antioxidant Milk Chocolate and Hershey's Whole Bean Chocolate bars are available in 3 oz. take-home bars and 4.2 oz. pouches with a suggested retail price of $1.99 and $2.99, respectively. Both products are available at supermarkets, drug stores and mass merchants nationwide beginning in March 2007. Support for Hershey's Goodness Chocolate begins in early March and includes merchandising units, print and online advertising and sampling.

From the March 26, 2007, Prepared Foods e-Flash