Cute, colorful, and tasty! We see them as bears, we see them as worms, and a lot more variations through the years. But whatever shape or form they might take, gummies have been a big part of our childhood, one way or another.
Hans Riegl from Bonn, Germany is said to be the man behind these beloved gummy treats. It was back in 1920, he was a worker at a confectionary who created his own business where he was making colorless hard candies. But he was still looking for that product that will make his company a big success. He found it when he was able to produce soft, gelatin-based, fruit-flavored treats… in the shape of bears! He originally called it the Dancing Bears, from a popular activity during festivals in Europe. The name of his company? Haribo, derived from his first and last name, and his hometown.
- Gummi bears have been such a big hit, a cultural icon to be more exact, as it spurred the first major animated TV Series by Disney (Adventures of the Gummi Bears) and even a song on YouTube which has more than 45 million views (The Gummy Bear Song).
- The gummi bear only reached the American shores in 1982 when Haribo opened a base in Baltimore, MD. But another German confectioner, Trolli, introduced the gummy worm a year earlier, in 1981.
- The green gummi bear is actually strawberry flavored, while the white ones are pineapple-flavored.
- July 15 is the National Gummi Worm Day.
- Want to make your gummy treat pop… literally? A teacher from the St. Albans School Science Department named Andrew Walls thought of dropping a gummi bear in potassium chlorate, and boom goes the bear! Quite fiery end to our beloved cutie.
- The largest gummy candy in the world was measured on February 3rd, 2014 at Duesseldorf, Germany. It was made by Elisabeth Windisch and weighs 512 kilograms. According to Guinness World Records, it took 6 days for the candy to set while in cold storage.
Gummy Buying Guide
Aside from the bears and the worms, it seems the possibilities are endless when creating gummy/gummi candy shapes. There were babies, cola bottles, rings, frogs, teeth, shark and more!
And while known to be a fruit-infused treat, gummies have also been used for other functions. There are gummi medicines and vitamins which are usually marketed for children. There are also caffeinated energy gummies and even alcoholic, vodka-infused ones! Now that will definitely make your candy bowl interesting!
Gummy Production & Farming in Texas
While commercially made gummies can be easily bought in supermarkets and groceries, many local and mom-and-pop candy stores and dessert shops in Texas offer their own take of this well-loved treat. And local makers and producers offer quite a lot of unique flavor options, so they are indeed worth a try!
Preservatives, Additives, and Chemicals
Here are some ingredients that you may find on the label of your favorite gummy snack!
- Citric acid – This is commonly found in citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, oranges, and the likes. However, there is also a manufactured form that is used as a food additive and can also be found in cleaning agents and nutritional supplements. This manufactured citric acid is used to preserve the ingredients, to boost acidity in its contents, and to enhance the flavor. This is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the FDA.
- Corn Syrup –This is basically sugar extracted from corn and processed to become this clear syrup. Many often mistakenly think of corn syrup as the dreaded high fructose corn syrup but they are totally different. To clarify, corn syrup is pure glucose, while for HFCS some of its glucose is chemically or enzymatically processed to become fructose making it even sweeter than corn syrup or the regular table sugar. While corn syrup per se does not have the negative effects that can be brought upon by high consumption of HFCS, it is still a good practice to consume products with corn syrup moderately. It is still refined sugar and may still contain traces of HFCS.
- Gummies use both natural and artificial fruit flavors. Artificial flavors are flavorings added in our food that is not extracted from organic sources such as plants or animals. These are usually present in processed foods and snacks. But while others do not recommend taking in food with anything artificial, there are no reported significant health risks associated with taking in these artificial flavors.
- Artificial Food Color – These make the food colors pop and look so much brighter and appetizing. However, there are some food colors and food dyes that have been banned from some countries as research findings have highlighted them to cause allergic reactions, tumors, and cancers. These banned food dyes are Blue 2, Green 3, Yellow 3, Yellow 6, and Red 3.
Gummies are usually sold in plastic pouches, bottles or jars, and tubs. Makes it easy to just grab one (or more) and pop into your mouth! These containers are also usually transparent to highlight the shapes and colors of the gummies. Visually tempting and appetizing!
Gummies are eaten just like candies, a pop of fruity sweetness in every piece. But for vegans, be careful when grabbing that pack of gummies, as the usual gummy candies contain gelatin. Gelatin is an animal by-product and is derived from animal bones, connective tissue, and other parts. But worry not, as there are gummy brands that are safe for a vegan diet. They use pectin or starch instead of gelatin.
It is important to store gummies in a cool, dry area. Or if you are in a hot and humid place, keep it in the refrigerator. This is to keep the gummies from melting. Shelf-life is said to be from six to eight months!
Homemade Gummi Bears
Now, this is one fun kitchen experiment: making your own gummi bear! The Food Network publishes one easy recipe, and a short list of ingredients! So easy, you and even the kids can do it!
- ½ cup of fruit juice (any fruit like cranberry, grape, orange or lemonade)
- 2 tablespoons unflavored powdered gelatin
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- In a small saucepan, mix together the fruit juice, gelatin, and sugar. Cook over low heat while stirring often. Cook until the gelatin and sugar dissolve completely, or for about a minute.
- Make sure to skim off and discard any foam that forms while stirring.
- Transfer the mixture into a small liquid measuring cup.
- Prepare your gummy bear molds on a flat surface. Slowly fill each mold to the top. Slightly shake each mold to make sure the mixture settles to the bottom.
- Refrigerate for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture sets.