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Gummy Bears: History, Making, Ingredients & Calories - Miralina's Halal Sweets.

Gummy bears: History, Production, Ingredients & Calories

Small, colorful and sweet are the gummy bears that not only children love to eat. A statistical survey shows that around 6 million Germans eat fruit and wine gums several times a week. After all, almost 12 million did so several times a month. We like them best in their best-known form as Gold Bears. But what are these delicious sweets made of, who invented them, and can you make gummy bears yourself?

1. what are gummy bears?

Gummy bears are fruit gums. They have the shape of a bear and are only about 2.1 centimeters in size. The bears are a special form of wine gum. They come in many colors and with different flavors. Along with chocolate in its many varieties, fruit gums in the shape of bears are among the most popular sweets in the world. Even a television series have got the rainbow-colored bears. The Gummi Bears series enjoyed great success in the 1980s. The theme song is still in the ears of fans. and unites almost 50 million clicks on YouTube on itself. Even the smallest, who were not even born at the time, still watch the series today.


2. the history of the invention of gummy bears

The triumph of all kinds of figures made of wine gum began with the little bears made of rubber. Smurfs, dragons, snakes, tigers, laughing faces and much more are made from the raw material. More than 100 years ago, fruit gum candy was invented, and in Germany.


It all started with hard candy

Today, no name is more associated with gummy bear history than Haribo. There's a reason for that, after all, the company is considered the inventor of the sweet treat. It was Hans Riegel from Bonn who founded his own confectionery company in 1920. He had previously worked in a confectionery shop, but was very unhappy there. Without further ado, he began experimenting in his kitchen with a copper kettle and a marble plate. The result was hard transparent sweets. His only employee, his wife Gertrud, delivered the rather unspectacular sweets on a bicycle. 

There were no gummy bears at that time, but there was already the name that is still on everyone's lips today: Haribo. The company name is made up of the name of the founder and his hometown: HAns RIegel from BOnn = Haribo.


The way to the soft gummy bears

Since the candies did not sell as well as Hans Riegel had expected, his experiments continued. Now soft, gelatine-based candies were to conquer the market. He also came up with a special shape: dancing bears. The shape is explained by the then very popular dancing performances of trained bears at fairs and folk festivals.

The gummy bears go back to traditional Turkish and Japanese recipes with corn and rice starch. Hans Riegel's bears were softened by gelatin, not by rice or corn starch. However, it is unclear today whether he knew the secret of the soft gummy sweets from the Far East. The author of Candy: The Sweet History, Beth Kimmerle, shows in his book that while the use of gelatin was an innovation in the history of candy, the softness of dancing bears was not.

Moreover, Kimmerle explains that Riegel's gummy bears also had precursors in Europe. Chewy sweets were available in Great Britain from 1909 as wine gums (without alcohol) and also as gundrops such as corn-based Jujubes in 1920 and pectin-based Chuckles in 1922. Nevertheless, it is probably thanks to Hans Riegel and the Haribo company that the gummy bears are so popular today. The dancing bears and the bright colors made it so that Haribo already had 400 employees at the beginning of the Second World War.


From dancing bear to gold bear

The Second World War was a major turning point in the history of gummy bears and the Haribo company. Hans Riegel himself died in 1945, and his two sons were taken prisoner. The company shrank to around 30 employees. However, Hans Junior and Paul lent a hand after their imprisonment and rebuilt the gummy bear empire. The bears were still rather slim and lifelike. It wasn't until 1960, when Haribo marketed its gummy bears throughout Europe, that they became rounder and friendlier to children's eyes. Then, in 1975, they also changed their name from little gummy bears to the Gold Bears we know today.


The Gummy Bears become international

 The great success of Haribo's gummy bears naturally attracted many other companies, which began producing gummy animals and other shapes. In America in particular, the sweet fruit gums experienced a real boom. In the 1980s, American gummies were launched by the Jelly Belly Company and by the German companies Trolli, Schwarzwald-Frucht or Heide. More and more shapes, colors and flavors were added to the first seven types of fruit gum. In addition to strawberry, raspberry, pineapple, orange, lemon and apple, cola flavor, special varieties such as blackberry or mango conquer the tongues of connoisseurs.

Today, the number of gummy delights is hard to keep track of. Gelatin-free, vegan, sour and now also vegetable gummies offer a variety where everyone can find something to suit their taste.


3. the production of the gummy bears 

The gummy bear production is not a secret. The gelatin is dissolved with all the other ingredients. Gelatin need the fruit gum candy to get their consistency, soft and ready to buy. The dissolved ingredients then go into negative molds, which were pressed into starch using a master mold. At the Haribo company, the molds that hold the smooth-pressed cornstarch are called powder boxes. The starch ensures that nothing sticks and the gummy bears simply come off after the mass has solidified in special drying rooms. Then they are actually ready, but there is one more step before the Gold Bears and other fruity treats end up in the bag. Oil or wax acts as a separating agent to ensure that the soft bears do not stick together.


Exact procedure of the production of the gummy bears

A slightly more complicated, but truer method, is to make gummy bears with invert sugar. The production resembles an experiment in the laboratory, and is not quite as practical for quick production at home. It is done in four steps: the production of the invert sugar, the creation of the base mass, the coloring and flavoring, and the shaping.


1. production of invert sugar

Invert sugar is produced from sucrose, i.e. simple household sugar from sugar beet or sugar cane. During the production of invert sugar, sucrose is split into fructose and glucose. Both forms of sugar do not crystallize, which is important for gummy bear production. Sucrose is mixed with tartaric acid for the splitting process (hence the term wine gum) and mixed with water. With constant stirring at a temperature of no more than 70 degrees, the invert sugar is then formed.


2. preparation of the basic mass for the gummy bears

To prepare the base mass, first soak gelatin with water and bring to swelling. This takes about 15 minutes. Along the way, in addition to the invert sugar, a second sugar solution is created from sucrose and water, which is boiled at a temperature slightly above 100 degrees Celsius. The gelatin is also melted. However, the temperature here must not exceed 75 degrees Celsius. The sugar solution, the invert sugar and the gelatine are then mixed. The mass is then ready to be poured into the mold.


 3. coloring and flavoring

The gummy bear mass still tastes only sugar and is transparent. For the color and taste of the colorful bears to emerge, there is still one step missing. Now the flavors in the form of fruit flavoring (natural or artificial) and the colors (in the form of fruit juice or food coloring) are added to the mass. Citric acid provides stability and intensification of the colors, as well as durability.


4. shapes of the gummy bears

The slightly cooled and freed from foam mass can now be poured into the molds. The industry uses large boxes for this, in the small frame are enough molds for gummy bears, chocolates or even an ice cube tray.

After solidification, the finished Gold Bears or other forms of the delicious delicacy go into the bags and into the shops.


 4. the ingredients of the gummy bears

The classic gummy bear ingredients are glucose syrup, sugar, dextrose and gelatin. Then citric acid and flavors are added. The color of the gummy bears is determined by different fruit preparations and caramel syrup.

By the way, since there is no fruit in the world yet that can be used to create blue color naturally, there are no blue Gold Bears. The Smurfs and other blue fruit gums are colored with artificial dyes. Because of the gelatine, fruit gums not only contain a lot of sugar, but also a relatively high amount of protein. Fats are not contained, but also hardly any fiber.

Haribo is still the market leader in gummy bears today, but it is no longer the only manufacturer. As a result, there are also gummy snacks that are not made with gelatin and other animal additives. The vegan versions of the fruit gummies rely on corn starch. The halal gummy bear variety relies on beef gelatin. Sugar-reduced or sugar-free variants without artificial flavors and preservatives are also very popular.


 5. how many calories do gummy bears have?

Like all sweets, gummy bears contain calories. And they are not few at all, because gummy bears are real sugar bombs. Three little Golden Bears contain about one lump of sugar. A 300-gram package contains between 900 and 1,200 kilocalories. The classic Gold Bears contain 368 kilocalories per 100 grams. Sugar-reduced variants contain fewer kilocalories.


There is no fat in gummy bears, which is what many companies advertise. But no matter which golden bears disappear in the mouth, the little sweets are fattening and should only be enjoyed in moderation. Nutrition experts recommend eating no more than ten gummy bears a day. The delicious bears are a stimulant. Even vitamin-enriched gummy fruits cannot replace healthy fruits and vegetables.


6. why is gelatin necessary in gummy bears?

Gelatin is a mixture of various animal proteins. The main component is denatured collagen. It is obtained from the connective tissue of animals. Especially cattle and pigs produce this collagen. In Germany, most collagen and therefore gelatin is obtained from pigs. This is the cheapest. But why do gummy bears need gelatin? It's because of the properties of the substance that makes gummy bears what they are: gummy.


Gelatin dissolves in water at 50 degrees Celsius and above and swells. When it cools, a gel forms. This gives the gummy bears their jelly-like, firm consistency without being hard. The gelatine is then reheated in the mouth. Thus, small and large connoisseurs can let the juicy bears melt in their mouths. Vegan gummy bears, on the other hand, produce a slightly sticky feeling in the mouth due to the starch they contain, as starch does not have this thermoreversible property. Therefore, vegan fruit gums stick strongly to the teeth when eaten.

By the way, gelatine is not only found in fruit jelly sweets. The protein carrier material is also used in many other areas as a basic material and binding agent. Gelatine can be found in pureed fruits and vegetables, in pastries, in cold dishes or in aspic.


How is pork gelatin obtained? 

The part of how gelatin is actually obtained is unfortunately no longer as tasty as the end product of the sweet ketes. The raw material for gelatin is skin and connective tissue from animals such as pigs and cattle, but also poultry and fish. More than 70 percent of gelatin is made from pigs in industrial production. For this purpose, manufacturers use only pork rinds. In the past, people often wondered whether gummy bears had bones in them. This is almost never the case, because only from cattle the basic materials for gelatin are also obtained from bones.

The process of obtaining gelatin is quite complicated, but after three days the finished gelatin powder from the pork rinds is ready. The starting material is freed from inorganic substances, crushed and defatted. Then calcium phosphate, calcium carbonate and calcium fluoride are extracted in a maceration process. At this stage, the intermediate product is called ossein. Depending on the starting material used by the industry, acid treatment or basic treatment of the material now follows.


Typical for the extraction of gelatin from pork rinds is the acid treatment. In this process, the ossein is treated with sulfuric and hydrochloric acid and then neutralized again. Once the salts have been washed out, the collagen is extracted by raising the temperature. The gelatine solution is now thin and is thickened in a vacuum dryer. After cooling, the gelatin is dried again until the water content is only about 10 to 15 percent and ground.


Are there alternatives to gummy bears with gelatin?

There are now vegan, vegetarian and halal alternatives, so you can buy gummy bears without pork gelatin. Some manufacturers even completely dispense with animal additives. Agar-agar is a popular alternative here to give the bears, other figures and fruits the desired jelly-like consistency.

Incidentally, around the turn of the millennium Haribo also launched some attempts to offer the popular Gold Bears without gelatin. The gelatine was to be replaced by "a gelling agent that is produced when glucose syrup is broken down". as Haribo spokesman Franz-Josef Weihrauch explained to the newspaper Welt in 2000.

What became of the kosher gummy bears without gelatin is unclear. They were never intended for the German and Central European market. But the company is not completely bypassing the group of Muslims and people of the Jewish faith either. In Spain, the Gold Bears are made with gelatin from fish, in Turkey with gelatin from cattle.


7. can you gummy bears make them yourself? 

If you do not want to buy gummy bears or other fruit gums, you can also make the gummy bears yourself. On the Internet there are many instructions for this, they are more or less elaborate and difficult. The recipes range from simple fruit juices thickened with gelatin or agar-agar to more complicated instructions that describe the mass for the gummy bears almost as in the food industry. We would like to present a simple process here in conclusion.


Gummy bears make your own from fruit juice

Making gummy bears from fruit juice and gelatin or gelatin substitute is the easiest. For about 50 pieces you need:

  • 400 milliliters fruit juice
  • 8 tablespoons agar-agar or gelatin
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • a little agave syrup or sugar
  • Gummy bear shape



  1. Put the fruit juice, lemon juice and gelatine or agar-agar in a saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil for about two minutes.
  3. Sweeten with a little agave syrup or sugar to taste.
  4. Pour the liquid into a mold (for example, silicone mold for gummy bears or chocolates).
  5. Leave to harden in the refrigerator for at least one hour, preferably two.

Which fruit juice to use depends on personal taste. Pureed fruit or vegetables mixed with water are also great.



Beth Kimmerle: Candy: The Sweet History, 2003

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