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Germany: Land of Beer, Sausage and… Gummy Bears?


Photo by Will Palmer

Fact: Gummy bears were invented by a German.

Most people would probably think that Gummy Bears are an American invention; it could be because of the 1980’s animated television series “Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears”. Perhaps, we link this candy to the United States because they are commonly used as toppings for frozen yogurt or cupcakes, which are very popular in America. However, little do we know about the German origins of the Gummy Bear (or Gummibärchen, meaning “little rubber bear” in German).

Almost 100 years ago, Hans Riegel, a candy-maker from Bonn, Germany, began preparing hard candies in his kitchen with the help of his wife. He created a new company called Haribo. After a couple of years, they decided to push their business: noticing the popularity of soft gelatin-based candies of their competitors and thinking how children like bears, they decided to make their following invention a dancing bear-shaped soft fruit-flavored chew. Why Riegel chose to represent bears as sweets is not known - some have speculated that it may have been because bears are the coat-of-arms symbol for Berlin, but Riegel hailed from Bonn, where the Lion is their heraldic symbol. The successor of the dancing bear later became Haribo's world-famous Gold-Bears candy in 1967, what is now one of the biggest candy companies in the world.

Gummy Bears quickly became one of the most popular candy inventions ever, and their popularity  kept rising until today, where they are sold in many different variations (for example, as Giant Gummy Bears on a Stick, or taking on the form of worms, rings, hamburgers, sharks or even Smurfs) in a number of countries around the world. So while Germany is more commonly known (gastronomically at least) for its Oktoberfest and copious amounts of beer, tasty sausages and twisted pretzels, the Gummy Bear has held its own on an international scale. Let’s look at more of what Germany has to offer the world, from bread museums to Michael Ballack, in our True or False game on the country!