Wrigley: Grand Plans That Didn't Stick

Bill Wrigley tried to do big things but never had a breakthrough. Now the company is going to rival Mars, with Warren Buffett serving as banker
Bill Wrigley, executive chairman and chairman of the board of the Wrigley Company (left), and Bill Perez, president and CEO of Wrigley Olson/Getty Images

In 1999, when William Wrigley Jr. took over the reins of the century-old company that bears his name, he aspired to take Wrigley (WWY) beyond chewing gum to greater heights. He made a bold bid in 2002 to acquire Hershey Foods (HSY) for $12 billion, and hired scores of food scientists, chemists, and engineers for an innovation center he opened in 2005 on a 7.6-acre Chicago site that he hoped would yield the next greatest thing since chewing gum.

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