Class of 2021
Pamela K. Gesford was born into the confectionery industry on May 13, 1961, in Harrisburg, PA, to Thomas and Clara. Her father worked at The Hershey Co.’s factory in the Longitude 100 chocolate conching department and Pam recalls him coming home each evening smelling of chocolate. She would stand at the top of the steps and hug him, burying her face in his head to take in the chocolatey aroma.
She grew up with her older sister Brenda, graduating from Central Dauphin East High School in 1979. She went on to earn a degree in biology from Penn State in 1983 and took food science courses at Penn State from 1986 to 1988.
Pam got her start in the industry as a temporary chocolate worker at Hershey during her summer breaks from college in the early 1980s. She returned to the company briefly in 1995, attaining the role of Senior Technician Specialist before heading to then Herman Goelitz Candy Co., now Jelly Belly Candy Co., as a Research and Development Manager.
She left Jelly Belly in 1998 to join industry supplier Colorcon, Inc. as a manager of technical services for food and confectionery, staying with the company through mid-2005.
While at Colorcon, Pam began what has become a passion to share her knowledge to benefit others in the industry, serving as an instructor and speaker at countless events and taking on leadership roles on association and technical group boards and committees.
She is extremely active at both PMCA and AACT technical conferences, presenting on a broad range of topics including panning, and snack components and savory ingredients in confectionery. She has also presented at IFT events.
In addition, Pam has served as a Councilor at Large for AACT, and held a range of offices for the Keystone chapter of IFT, including serving as chair. She has also helped organize AACT meetings and golf outings and has chaired the PMCA B-to-B subcommittee four times.
In 2005, Pam took on the role of Technical Manager for Quality Assurance and R&D at Perfetti Van Melle, USA, before becoming a Senior Consultant for Knechtel Labs in 2007.
In 2013, Pam rejoined Hershey as Staff Scientist, R&D, Sweets & Refreshments, a position she currently holds. In this role, she is frequently called on for internal educational opportunities, teaching courses on hard candy and panning, as well as an international bean to bar course.
Pam is the 2017 recipient of the prestigious AACT Stroud Jordan Award in recognition of her outstanding contributions in the field of confectionery technology.
Away from the office, she is an avid traveler having visited 45 states and all but the Antarctic and Australian continents. She enjoys meeting new people and learning new things, noting that her creativity, powers of observation and memory have helped her in her career.
Of the confectionery industry, Pam says: “I love the people and the products, and it allows me to use both sides of my brain — my creative and my scientific.”