How Gummy Bears Became A Top Candy Around The World

They started as a niche candy in Germany, but are now recognized and adored around the world.

Gummy bears would not seem to have much of a history to them if we had to guess. If we are being honest, it is not something that we have thought a lot about….until now.

The internet is full of unexpected history lessons and this is definitely one of them. This particular episode of the Food History Mental Floss series provides an in-depth explanation of how these candies came to be.

Photo: YouTube/Mental Floss

“How did gummy bears go from niche German sweet to the world’s favorite gelatin candy?” is the question that this video seeks to answer. Near as we can tell, they have answered that question and any possible follow-up questions that may be had. Host Justin Dodd gets things started by remembering wine drops and Turkish Delight.

These were the earliest iterations of the gummy bear. The gummy bear as we know it today got its start when German candy maker Hans Reigel decided to create what is now known as the Haribo brand. We did not know this, but the Haribo name is actually derived from a combo of the first two letters of Hans’ first name, last name, and his hometown of Bonn.

Photo: YouTube/Mental Floss

Haribo was the first company to discover the magic of shaping these candies like bears, a shape that was derived from Germany’s famous culture of dancing animals. “The shape originated as an homage to a European tradition that goes back centuries. Trained, “dancing” bears gained popularity during the Middle Ages, and they persisted into the 20th century.

They were still a common sight at German festivals 100 years ago, so Riegel knew it was an image his customers would recognize,” the host shares.

Photo: YouTube/Mental Floss

Sadly, these bears were not dancing because they wanted to. They were dancing because hot plates were being placed beneath their feet. Fortunately, this very cruel practice has since been outlawed.

Kudos to Hans Reigel for coming up with these sweet treats, which are sure to live on in perpetuity. Watch the video below: