Historian & Author
Catherine Koonar is a historian of capitalism and food in the American context and beyond. She received her PhD in history at the University of Toronto. Her current book project investigates the history of US capitalism through the lens of the Hershey Chocolate Company and its namesake town of Hershey, Pennsylvania. Her research unearths the story of struggle between the Hershey community and the chocolate company, conflict between workers and management, enduring debates over Milton Hershey’s legacy, and the company’s relationship to international commodity chains and consumer markets. This social and cultural history shows how ideas about the nature of chocolate as a joyful rather than a necessary commodity shaped identity formation among the residents of Hershey, Pennsylvania, and corporate narratives about the Hershey Company. Her project also elucidates the ways in which Hershey, Pennsylvania, and the Hershey Company are embedded in a global story of modern capitalism.