The history of the Gummy Bear

Every now and then we all get that sudden craving for something sweet and for most of us we head straight to the local supermarket and pick up a packet of sugary treats to help us with our cravings.

A great option to help with the sugar cravings is to buy a packet or two of gummy bears.

There are two brands which sell the best gummy bears on the market and they are the Black Forest and Haribo.

If you have to ask people which gummy bears they prefer out of these two brands the answer is almost always Haribo, which means that somewhere the Germans got making soft sweets 100% right.

However, that fact that so many people answered with Haribo, really intrigued me and like any curious writer, I decided to find out the history of this gummy bear.

What is the story behind Haribo?

The Haribo enterprise was built by a man who wanted out of his boring dead-end confectionary job and decided to make hard sweets from his kitchen, way back in 1920.

The original sweets which Hans Riegel made sold as you would expect at the time, which for some people is alright, but for Hans, it was a frustrating thought that his new product was not heading down the correct path to success.

Han’s Path to Success

When Hans went back to the drawing board, he decided to create a fruit-flavored soft candy made from a gelatin base and were made to look like the dancing bears which frequented the local festivals in Europe.

Making the change from the hard candy to the soft gelatin-based candy was like the difference between chalk and cheese.

Proof of Hans’s success is the current mulita-million dollar empire which was built was built out of his kitchen 1920.

When you speak to any sweet lover they will tell you that the gummy bears made by Hans where the first of their kind, however, this is not the first time the world has seen soft sweets like the gummy bears.

In fact, the other gummy sweets which existed before the Haribo bear where the Turkish delights from Turkey and the Japanese rice candy.

What separates these three types of candies is that unlike the Turkish delights and rice candy, the Haribo bears were and are still made from gelatin and not rice and cornstarch.

When Hans first started making gummy bears they were made from actual fruit, which has led some experts to argue that the process which the sweets were made, (boiling sugar and fruit together and then adding the gelatin) is the same way that many people made and still make jam.

Which on a technical level the gummy bear is the cousin of the fruit jam, isn’t that cool?

Recovering from the war

When we look at the history of a company like Haribo which was created and founded before the war, one question that many people have is, “How did the war impact the company?”

The answer is that by the time of the war Hans had grown his company from 2 workers, himself and his wife to around 400 workers, which all changed when the war hit and Hans died in 1945.

When the war hit the company began to fail and amount of employees begin to drop from 400 to just 35 members and to make things worse in 1945 Hans died leaving the company to his sons who were at the time imprisoned as prisoners of war.

When the two brothers were released from prison they took over the business from their mother who had been struggling to keep the company afloat.

It took the brothers just over 5 years to rebuild to 1000 workers and to the company which we know it as today.

Thanks to them we can but the gummy delights we crave every now and then.

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