Gummy Bear Candy Has A Troubling Past
By Nick Johnson
Gummy bears were first created by Hans Riegel, a German candy maker who decided to craft a gelatin-based bear two years after opening his own candy company in 1920. Ever since creating the popular candy, his company Haribo has been a staple of the gummy candy industry, but the snack also has a troubling past.
The original name of this iconic treat has its roots in the sordid history of animal abuse. According to Smithsonian Magazine, when Riegel first created the Haribo gummy bear, the candy was called the Dancing Bear in reference to the very real practice of training wild bears to dance for entertainment.
According to Bear Conservation, dancing bears have been around for hundreds of years, and the practice includes removing a cub from its habitat and training the bear to dance using several painful, abusive practices. Today, dancing bears have been banned in many nations around the world.
Haribo changed the name of the gummy bear candy to Goldbears in 1960, which could have been a response to evolving cultural mores regarding the treatment of animals. However, in the early 2000s, Haribo was embroiled in another controversy when it refused to participate in a program designed to provide reparations to those who were forced to provide free labor for the company in World War II-era Germany.