9 Things You Didn’t Know About Gummy Bears

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These chewy little candies have quite a history

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Gummy bears were invented in Germany by the founder of Haribo.

Who doesn’t love gummy bears? Those sticky, chewy little bear-shaped gelatin-based candies are one of the most popular treats around, and they come in a wide variety of flavors and colors. But even if you never rode the school bus without a few in your pocket, we bet that there are some things you didn’t know about this tiny treat.

9 Things You Didn’t Know About Gummy Bears (Slideshow)

We tend to not give much thought to the history of gummy bears, but they’ve actually got quite an interesting backstory. They were invented in early 1920s Germany by Hans Riegel, a confectioner from Bonn who two years prior had started the Haribo candy company. Their earliest incarnation of what Riegel dubbed Gummibären, the considerably larger Tanzbären ("dancing bears"), were inspired by the trained bears Riegel had seen over the years at European street festivals and markets. They were a success from the start, and even stayed popular during Weimar Germany’s hyperinflation period by remaining very affordably priced. Eventually they shrunk to their current size and were renamed Goldbären, and today Haribo’s Gold-Bears are their flagship gummy bears.

Today, it’s impossible to visit a corner store or candy shop without encountering several varieties of gummy bears, and they range in size from teeny-tiny to several pounds. They’re made from a mixture of sugar, glucose syrup, starch, flavoring, food coloring, citric acid, and gelatin; nobody ever said that they’re healthy (they’re essentially just empty calories), and because they’re so sticky, they may cause tooth decay. But as with any candy, moderation is best.

So read on to learn how gummy bears got their name, what the flavor differences are between the main manufacturers, how they’re made, what exactly jelly babies (their British equivalent) are, and the story behind the popular Disney cartoon that they inspired. Hopefully by the time you’re finished you’ll have a greater appreciation for this little bear-shaped candy.

Their Name Was Derived From the Original Main Ingredient

Photo Modified: Flickr / Lennart Tange / CC BY 4.0


The “gummy” in gummy bear comes from the original thickener used by Riegel, gum arabic (the resin of an acacia tree). He called the product Gummibären, and the name stuck.

Their Popularity Sparked the Gummy Boom

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All the gummy products you see today, from worms to frogs, cherries and other fruit, sharks, and even hamburgers, were inspired by the success of the original gummy bear.

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