Haribo products, most especially the famed Gummi Bears, are among the sweet and sort of sour childhood candy memories we continue to nurture. America’s addiction to gummy and jelly candies can be attributed to a wide range of Haribo candies, from the classic Gummi Bears to the numerous gummi and jelly confectionery like the Strawberry Wheels, Happy Cola and Fruity Frutti.
Hans Reigel Sr. founded Haribo in 1920 after years of experience as a confectioner. He came up with fun ways to capture the imagination of his German consumers. About two years into his business, Reigel Sr. invents the “Dancing Bear” which is basically the original gummy bear. The “Dancing Bear” is made of fruit gum and is originally gold in color. The world would come to know this sweet icon as the Haribo Goldbear.
Later on, Reigel Sr started to diversify his company’s candy products. By 1925 he started producing licorice products starting with the licorice stick. He further developed this popular sweet rope into the Licorice Wheel.
After the Second World War, Haribo went back on track after a sharp drop in demand and production. By this time, Reigel Sr. had already passed and his son Hans Reigel Jr. would take the wheel. With help from his mother and his brother Paul who was responsible for production and engineering., Dr. Hans Reigel took Haribo into a more innovative direction. He kept the business up to date based on the demands of his target consumers: children. As Germany was recovering from the war, Dr. Reigel kept an eye on the changing sensibilities and tastes of the younger German population. This gave him the inspiration to diversify Haribo’s product offerings.
Haribo mainly invested on its main strength: the gummy and jelly candies. Haribo’s popular candies are simply the many variations of the basic gummy sweets many children love. From its fruity flavorings to its fun shapes and sizes, Haribo introduced a new world of candies that are fun and easy to eat and are bursting with flavors.
In the 1980s, Haribo candies found itself in American soil but initially in the gourmet candy bins. Because of this, the demand for Haribo products was not high especially as the packaging maintained its German identity. The Haribo distribution in the United States eventually changed the packaging. The strategy also put the Haribo products side by side with mass-market candies and drugstore and candy store favorites such as jujubes, Life Savers and Hershey’s Kisses. As American children finally got a taste of the Gummi Bear and other jelly-based candies, the dynamics of the American confectionery market suddenly shifted. Haribo would become a major player and demand dramatically increased.
It is quite impressive that a candy that was invented almost ninety years ago continues to win the hearts of children and adults. Despite the emergence of other gummy candy makers such as Trolli and Black Forest, Haribo still captures the imagination and the taste buds of candy lovers. This thereby makes the company behind Gummi Bears a true pioneer in the wonderful world of candy.