The History of Gummy Bears


Gummy bears are tiny (.79 inches long) gelatin-based candies with a distinctive rubbery texture that are molded in the approximate shape of a bear. The original Haribo candies are sold in packages that contain five flavors: orange, lemon, lime, raspberry and pineapple. All are in predictable colors, except the pineapple, which is clear.


  • The original gummy bear was invented by German confectioner Hans Riegel. Riegel founded his candy company, Haribo, in 1920. The name is an acronym of Riegel's first and last names, and his city of birth, Bonn. Riegel died in World War II, but his son and namesake took over the company in the 1940s and expanded operations, eventually operating 18 candy factories in Europe.


  • In the 1960s, Haribo began distributing the classic bear-shaped treats under the name "Gold-Bears." The concept had been around since the factory's early days, when the little treats were called "Dancing Bears." In 1982, Haribo began to manufacture the first American-made Gold-Bears, and Americans began to refer to them generically as "gummy bears" or "gummi bears."


  • A second German company, Trolli, introduced the gummy worm in 1981 based on a similar recipe. The Trolli gummy worms, led by their two-inch-long Brite Crawler, are now the best-selling gummy candies in the world. Trolli also produces a number of other gummy candies, including a bear-shaped candy. The Trolli red gummy bear is cherry, rather than raspberry, flavored.


  • Gummy bears are made of corn syrup, sugar, gelatin, dextrose (another sugar), citric acid, starch, artificial colors, coconut oil, carnauba wax, and artificial and natural flavors. The candies are made by pumping a mix of sugars, starch and gelatin through a steel coil that is steam-heated on the outside to cook the candy. After a vacuum chamber removes excess moisture from the candy, flavorings and colors are mixed in. The candies are molded in starch-filled molds and allowed to "cure" before packaging.


  • Haribo makes a gelatin-free Gold-Bear especially for the vegetarian Muslim market, and other companies offer organic versions made with real fruit. Gummy bears have become a pop culture icon, with their own TV show, addiction support group and page on Facebook. Under development are gummy candies with tooth-protective xylitol as well as a vitamin-fortified version.

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  • Photo Credit Case Western
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