The History of Gummy Bears

The history of Gummy BearsA Brief History of Gummy Bears and Gummi Candy

Quick Summary:

  • Gummy bears originated in Germany in the 1920s, created by confectioner Hans Riegel Sr.
  • They evolved from the "Dancing Bears" to the modern "Goldbears" under the Haribo brand.
  • The expansion of Haribo gummy bears into the US market in 1982 marked a significant milestone in their global popularity.
  • Modern variants include an array of shapes, sizes, and flavors, showcasing their adaptability.
  • Haribo gummy bears revolutionized the candy industry with innovative use of gelatin and flavorings, akin to the wine gum.
  • Their global reach and cultural adaptations highlight their universal appeal.
  • Gummi bears persist in evolving, while keeping their charm and appeal across all generations.


Origin of Gummy Bears in Germany

Rendition of a man resembling Hans Riegel Sr and a woman resembling his wife Gertrud

The story of gummy bears begins in the early 20th century in a small kitchen in Bonn, Germany. The inception of these chewy candies marked a significant shift in the confectionery world, redefining the landscape of sweet treats. Their creation stemmed from a desire to innovate and captivate, leading to a product that would become a global phenomenon. The humble beginnings of gummy bears reflect a blend of culinary skill, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit, laying the foundation for what would become an iconic candy.

Popularity and Evolution of Gummy Candy

Gummy candies, from their initial creation, captured the hearts and palates of people across Europe and eventually, the world. These gelatin-based sweets, known for their distinctive chewy texture and fruit flavors, quickly grew in popularity. The evolution of gummy candies, including the introduction of gummy worms, saw variations in shapes, sizes, and flavors, adapting to changing tastes and market demands. This adaptability contributed to the lasting success and popularity of gummy candies, establishing them as a staple in the candy industry.

Japanese Rice Candies

colorful assortment of traditional Japanese rice candies

Japanese rice candies, while distinct in their composition and cultural background, share a connection with the history of gummy bears in the broader context of the evolution of chewy candies globally.

Gummy bears, invented in Germany by Hans Riegel Sr., were a novel creation in the Western world, using gelatin to create a soft, chewy texture. This innovation marked a significant shift in the types of confections available in Europe and later, globally.

Japanese rice candies, on the other hand, have a different origin and are made from a completely different set of ingredients, typically using glutinous rice and sweeteners. They are part of a long tradition of rice-based confections in Japan, known for their chewy texture and often wrapped in edible rice paper.

The pertinence of Japanese rice candies to the history of gummy bears lies in the parallel development of chewy candies in different parts of the world. Both gummy bears and Japanese rice candies represent the cultural ingenuity in creating sweets that defy the traditional hard candy form. They both cater to the universal human preference for diverse textures in confections, particularly the enjoyment of chewy sweets.

Early Beginnings (1920s)

Hans Riegel Sr: The Inventor of Gummy Bears

Hans Riegel, a confectioner from Bonn, was the innovative mind behind the creation of gummi bears. Riegel’s vision and innovation led him to experiment with gelatin and fruit flavors, resulting in the creation of a new form of candy. His entrepreneurial drive pushed the boundaries of traditional candy-making, setting the stage for a new era in the confectionery industry. Riegel's contribution to the candy world is immeasurable, as he created not just a product, but a legacy that endures to this day.

Dancing Bears inspiration for Gummy Bears

Creation of the Dancing Bear

The first gummy bears, inspired by the “dancing bears These initial candies were larger and more robust than today's gummy bears, embodying the lively and jovial spirit of their inspiration. The creation of the dancing bear gummy was a blend of whimsy and culinary artistry, capturing the imagination of consumers and setting a new standard for candy design and concept.

Unique Blend of Ingredients

The original gummy bear recipe was a masterful blend of gelatin, sugar, fruit flavorings, and a touch of starch. This unique mix birthed a chewy, fruity gum that was nothing like the other candies in the market at that time. The careful blend of gummy bear ingredients made a texture and flavor reminiscent of raspberry turkish delight, which was unique and instantly recognizable, paving the way for future innovation in gummi candy recipes.

Gummi Rise to Fame (1930s)

Transition from Home to Factory

As the popularity of gummy bears grew, the transition from small-scale production in a home kitchen to a full-fledged factory setting was inevitable. This shift allowed for greater production capacity, meeting the rising demand for these beloved sweets. The move to factory production in the 1920s marked a significant milestone in the brief history of gummy bears, signifying their transition from a novelty item to a mainstream product.

Growing Workforce and Production

With the expansion into factory production, the workforce behind Haribo gummy bears also grew. This increase in labor facilitated the mass production of gummy candies, ensuring a consistent supply for an ever-growing fan base of both Haribo and Riegel’s gummy bears. The growing workforce in 1920 was a testament to the success of the gummy bears, reflecting their impact not just on consumers, but on the European economy and job market as well.

Haribo Brand Evolution (1960)

Rebranding to Goldbears

haribo vintage packaging

In the 1960s, Haribo, the company founded by Hans Riegel, embarked on a significant rebranding effort. The original "Dancing Bears" were transformed into "Goldbears," a move that signified a new era for the gummy bear brand. This rebranding of the Haribo gummy from dancing bears to gummy bears aligned with the evolving tastes and preferences of the European market. The Goldbears represented a more refined and modern version of the classic “gummy bear.


The Sweet Global Expansion (1982 onwards)

Entry into the US market

Modern Goldbears Packaging

The expansion of Haribo and its gummy bears into the US market in 1982 marked a pivotal moment in the brand's history. This strategic move introduced gummy bears to a wider audience and opened new avenues for growth and innovation. The entry into the US market was a bold step in globalizing the brand, showcasing the universal appeal of gummy bears.


Worldwide Presence and Flavor Expansion

Following its success in the US, Haribo continued to expand its presence globally. The brand's reach extended to numerous countries, each with its unique market preferences. This expansion led to the introduction of new flavors and variants of gummy bears, catering to diverse palates and cultural tastes. The global reach of Haribo's gummi bears is a testament to their ability to adapt and their perpetual popularity.

Gummy Bears in Popular Culture

Gummy bears have become ingrained in popular culture, featuring in various forms of media, from television shows to social media trends. The playful shape, vibrant colors, and pineapple flavor of the Haribo gummy bears have made them a favorite among all age groups, securing their status as a cultural icon. The representation of gummi bears in popular culture underscores their impact beyond the realm of candy, signifying joy and nostalgia.

Gummy Bears Around the World

As gummy bears spread across the globe, they have been adapted to suit local tastes and preferences. From sour worm candies to sweet, and from traditional fruit flavors to exotic combinations, the versatility of gummi bears is clear in their international variations. This adaptability has allowed g ummy bears to become a beloved treat in numerous cultures, each embracing and adding their unique twist to this classic candy.

Gummy Bears Through the Decades

Throughout the decades, gummy bears have witnessed various trends and changes in the confectionery industry. From the introduction of new flavors to the adoption of different manufacturing techniques, gummy bears have evolved while maintaining their core identity. This journey through time showcases the brief history and the resilience of Haribo gummy bears, making them a timeless treat.

Gummy Bears in Different Cultures

In different cultures, gummy bears have taken on unique significance and forms. From being a nostalgic treat that evokes childhood memories to a modern-day indulgence, their universal appeal transcends cultural boundaries. In certain cultures, gummi bears are incorporated into celebrations and festivities, further solidifying their position as a versatile and beloved jelly candy.

Legacy and Celebrations (100th Anniversary)

Centenary Celebrations by Haribo

In celebration of its 100th anniversary, Haribo commemorated the legacy of gummy bears with special editions and events. The history of the gummy bear celebrations highlighted the journey of gummy bears from a simple confection to a global phenomenon. The centenary celebrations by Haribo paid homage to the innovation and vision of Hans Riegel and marked a century of sweet delight.

Modern-Day Variants: Gummies for all

Expansion into Various Shapes and Flavors

Today, from Haribo gummy bears to their sour gummy worms, they are available in an array of shapes, sizes, and flavors, including pineapple, catering to an ever-expanding audience. From small gummies to giant versions, and from classic fruit flavors to gourmet combinations like strawberry and raspberry, the modern-day variants of gummi bears demonstrate their versatility and continued popularity. This expansion of everything, from “gummy bear

How Have Gummy Bears Transformed the Candy Industry?

You can make your own custom gummy candy with Candy Pros' made to melt Naked Gold Gummy Bears.

Gummy Bears and the Evolution of Candy

Gummy bears have played a pivotal role in the evolution of the candy industry. Their introduction brought about a new category of sugary treats, from Japanese rice candies to gelatin-based candies, inspiring a myriad of similar confections. The innovation behind gummy bears paved the way for a diverse range of gummy candies, influencing the trajectory of the candy industry.

The Influence of Gummy Bears on Candy Making

The creation of gummy bears and gummy worms revolutionized candy-making techniques, particularly in the use of gelatin and flavorings. Their production process set new standards in the industry, influencing how candies are designed and manufactured. The influence of gummy bears extends beyond their taste and texture, impacting the technical aspects of candy making.

Gummy Bears' Impact on Candy Consumption

Gummy bears and their spin-off, Haribo sour gummy worms, have significantly influenced candy consumption patterns. Their popularity has led to an increased demand for chewy, gelatin-based sweets, shaping consumer preferences. The impact of gummy bears on candy consumption is evident in the widespread acceptance and popularity of gummy candies in various forms.

Global Reach of Gummy Bears

The global reach of gummy bears is a reflection of their universal appeal. Their presence in markets around the world showcases their ability to resonate with diverse audiences. The global reach of gummy bears, from Haribo gummy bears to gummy worms, signifies their success as a confectionery product and their status as a beloved treat across cultures.

Gummy Bears in Modern Times

In modern times, gummy bears continue to captivate consumers with their playful form and delightful taste. They have adjusted to contemporary trends, like the inclusion of natural flavors such as strawberry and raspberry, and colors, in response to the shifting consumer consciousness towards gummies. Gummy bears in modern times represent a blend of tradition and innovation, maintaining their charm while evolving with the times.

Gummy Bear History FAQ

Where Was the Gummy Bear Invented?

Gummy bears originated in Germany, the birthplace of this iconic confection. The German candy tradition was enriched by this new candy, adding to its rich assortment of sweet treats.

When Was the Gummy Bear Invented?

The first gummy bear was invented in the early 1920s. This period marked a significant era in candy history, introducing a new form of gummy candy that would captivate candy fans worldwide.

Who is the Inventor of Gummy Bear?

Hans Riegel Sr. is credited as the inventor of the gummy bear. His innovation in creating a gelatin-based gummy candy laid the foundation for an entirely new category of sweets.

What is the dark history of gummy bears?

While there's no specific 'dark history' of gummy bears, the challenges and upheavals faced by the Haribo company during and post-World War II reflect a tumultuous period. The company's resilience in overcoming these challenges is a testament to its dedication to producing gummy bears.

What color was the first gummy bear?

The original gummy bears included a range of colors, corresponding to different flavors. The emphasis was on replicating fruit flavors, with each color representing a distinct fruit flavor.

What is the name brand of gummy bears that originally came from Germany?

Haribo is the renowned brand that originally produced gummy bears in Germany. It's a name synonymous with gummy candies and has become a global candy superpower.

Who is the inventor of gummy bears?

Hans Riegel Sr., the founder of Haribo, is acknowledged as the inventor of gummy bears. His vision of creating a new form of candy in the shape of “dancing bears

What should I know about gummy bear history?

The Gummy Bear, known as "Gummibär" in its native Germany, was first produced by candy companies in the early 1920s. The most famous of these companies was Haribo which opened its doors in 1920. The original gummy bear was much smaller than the ones we know today, with modern bears that weigh several grams more.

How are gummy bears made?

The traditional form of gummy bears consists of a mixture of sugar, glucose syrup, starch, flavoring, food coloring, citric acid, and gelatin. Large batches, often weighing up to 100 million bears, are produced and left to cool and set for up to four days.

Does the image of the gummy bear have any specific origin?

The original gummy bear candy, the “Dancing Bears”, were slightly larger and slimmer than the gummy bears we know today. The design was based on the playful, carnival novelty of dancing bears, which were a popular sight in Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

What do I need to know about gummy bear varieties?

Many variations of the gummy candy known as gummibär exist, from the large sour gummy bears to smaller, sweeter varieties. There are even so-called "gummy worms". However, traditional gummy bear candy comes in five basic flavors: lemon, orange, strawberry, pineapple, and raspberry.

How many gummy bears are produced each day?

Some candy companies produce tons of candy each day, which includes millions and millions of gummy bears. For instance, Haribo alone stands to produce roughly 100 million bears in a single day!

Do people prefer bears or worms when it comes to gummy candies?

While there are various forms of gummy candies like worms, the gummy bear is one of the most beloved, especially in the United States. However, preferences can vary widely depending on individual taste and regional popularity.

Have gummy bears always been the same size?

No, gummy bears haven't always been the same size. The first gummy bears produced by Haribo were much smaller than today's version. Nowadays, you can also find gummy bears that weigh several pounds, designed for novelty and gift purposes.

What was the impact of Haribo on the gummy bear industry?

Haribo played a significant role in the gummy bear industry. Once Haribo opened its doors, it fostered widespread popularity of these candies. Today, Haribo remains one of the major producers of gummy bears worldwide.

Are there any unusual types of gummy bears?

Yes, gummy bears have inspired a wide variety of spin-off sweets. Delights such as gummy bear-flavored ice cream, soda, breakfast cereal and Japanese rice candy have all been produced and enjoyed by consumers around the world. Even gummy bear-themed merchandise has become a common sight.

Where can I watch a short video on Haribo's History

This video summarizes the history of Haribo, starting with the birth of its founder, Hans Riegel, in 1893 in Friesdorf near Bonn. Hans Riegel learned the trade of a confectioner at Kleutgen & Meier and, after the First World War, took steps towards independence by partnering with the company Heinen, forming Heinen & Riegel. In 1920, he established his first production plant in a house he acquired, marking the birth of Haribo on December 13th, 1920. The first employee of Haribo was Gertrud, Hans Riegel's wife, whom he married in 1921. Gertrud was responsible for distribution and delivered the products to clients by bicycle.


Lasting Impact and Continued Popularity of Gummy Bears and Gummy Candy

The lasting impact and continued popularity of gummy bears and gummy candy are a testament to their timeless appeal. From their humble beginnings in a small German kitchen to becoming a global candy sensation, gummy bears have transcended generations. Whether it’s Riegel’s gummy bears or Haribo’s, they embody the perfect fusion of taste, texture, and joy, making them more than just a sweet treat. The history of gummy bears is not only about a candy's evolution but also about innovation, cultural adaptation, and the joy of confectionery. As we look to the future, the legacy of gummy bears is secure, with their story continuing to unfold in the hearts and taste buds of candy lovers around the world.


Candy Bites The Science of Sweets by  Richard W. Hartel and Anna Kate Hartel 

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