NOVEMBER 2011
Alumnus Has 'Sweetest Job' at Hershey

by Jennifer A. Cline, writer/editor-One College Avenue

David Worthing, '87. Photo courtesy of Worthing.Albeit an unexpected career twist, 1987 automotive mechanics alumnus David Worthing contends that he has the “sweetest job on earth.”

Worthing is a research scientist for the Hershey Co., where he works in chocolate flavor/formulation research and development.

“I believe most people are surprised at how much time, effort and science goes into making candy,” he said.

Many factors play a role in coming up with just the right chocolate flavor, and much of it is confidential, but Worthing shares a peek into his work.

“Cocoa beans and chocolate liquor – not the alcoholic kind – are where the science and collaboration come in for me,” Worthing says. “The beans come from all different regions of the world, and they have to be roasted to exact temperature and analytical specifications for flavor.”

He and his colleagues communicate with cocoa-bean farmers about proper fermentation of the beans, which also plays a large part in the flavor.

“I do a lot of tasting,” he said. “As part of my job, I need to taste certain ingredients to make sure they are exactly what we want in our formula. We also have a sensory team at work, and we need to taste chocolates that they are doing studies on.”

The line of work is not what he expected when pursuing a degree in automotive mechanics at Williamsport Area Community College, Pennsylvania College of Technology’s immediate predecessor, but Worthing said it is gratifying.

“When I was younger, my dad and I were always messing around with cars,” he said. “He had a couple of older cars he would work on, and I was always under the hood with him.”

When he got older, his parents bought him his first car: a Plymouth Duster.

“I would work on that thing every day, so I figured why not go to school to be an automotive mechanic, and W.A.C.C. was a great school to learn the trade,” he said.

After graduation, he worked as a mechanic at a local dealership for a year and a half, then followed his father’s footsteps when he was hired as a mechanic for Hershey.

“He was a mechanic for Hershey and eventually retired from Hershey,” Worthing said.

The younger Worthing worked in that role until, after a brief layoff from the company, he was invited to work on a project at the Hershey Technical Center.

“I fell in love with the type of research work they did here,” he said. “I have been working here ever since.”

“I enjoy coming to work every day,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a Monday morning or Friday morning. My colleagues in the Food, Science, and Technology department are awesome, smart, fun people. They, as well as my other colleagues, make the Hershey Technical Center a fun and enjoyable place to work.”

Among those colleagues is James Nelson, a 1987 W.A.C.C. food and hospitality management alumnus.

The job can be challenging, with many simultaneous time-demanding projects to juggle, but the rewards can hardly be beat.

“When you see someone outside of work eating candy or when you walk into a store and you see products that you helped develop; smiles on kids’ faces when they’re eating candy and knowing I helped put that smile on their face – it gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment,” Worthing said.

“It is very gratifying working for a great company like Hershey, and to know that what I do with cocoa-bean roasting, chocolate formulations, and the overall chocolate-making process has a big impact on the company’s future, and an impact on a lot of people that buy our products,” Worthing said.

Outside of work, Worthing enjoys the outdoors and time with his family: wife, Lori, and sons Cole and Garrett. And he continues to use his automotive skills as a pit crew member for his cousin’s dirt track super-late model race team (No. 79 driver Michael Altobelli Jr. and car owner/head crew chief Mike Altobelli Sr.).

“I really get a kick out of that, especially when you get your picture taken on the front stretch after he wins,” Worthing said. “Pretty awesome.”

There is one more question that Worthing says he is asked frequently – and we couldn’t resist asking it, too: With all that tasting, do you ever get sick of sweets?

“As I said before, I have the sweetest job on earth, so it’s kind of hard to get sick of sweets,” he said.

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