Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Diya. Diya Wonders, “How are gummy bears made?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Diya!
We’re hungry for a snack. How about you? We were thinking about something along the lines of a sweet little treat that’s just a bit chewy. What are we talking about? Gummy bears, of course!
Grown-ups might remember gummy bears as a sweet treat that came along in the early 1980s. But the candy’s origins date back much farther than that. German entrepreneur Hans Riegel invented gummy candies way back in the early 1920s when he started his candy company, Haribo. Today, Haribo continues to be one of the world’s top makers of gummy candies.
Riegel’s first gummy candies were shaped like bears. He was inspired by the trained bears he had grown up watching at street festivals around Europe. The first base ingredient Riegel used was gum arabic, which led to the name gummy bears.
Today, the base ingredient of gummy candies is edible gelatin. It’s also found in licorice, soft caramels, and marshmallows. Edible gelatin gives gummy bears their chewy texture and long shelf life.
How are gummy bears made? Today, they’re made in factories by the tens of thousands. First, the ingredients are mixed together in a large vat. Typical ingredients include corn syrup, sugar, water, gelatin, food coloring, and flavorings. These flavorings often come from fruit juices and citric acid.
Once the ingredients are mixed, the resulting liquid is cooked. It thickens into what manufacturers call a slurry. The slurry is then poured into molds for shaping. Gummy bears would be poured into bear-shaped molds, of course. There are many different types of shapes for gummy candies, though. One of the most popular you’re probably familiar with is the gummy worm.
The molds for gummy candies are lined with corn starch, which stops the gummy candies from sticking to them. Then, the slurry is poured into the molds and cooled to 65º F. It’s allowed to sit for 24 hours so the slurry can cool and set.
After 24 hours in the molds, the gummy candies are removed and placed in a large drum tumbler. They’re tumbled in a light food-grade oil. This absorbs any remaining cornstarch and keeps the gummy candies soft and fresh. Finally, the gummy candies are ready to be packaged and sold.
Can you guess the most popular flavors of gummy bears? A few of them are raspberry, orange, strawberry, pineapple, and lemon. Regular gummy bears can be very high in sugar. Today, you can find healthier varieties on the shelves. In fact, some companies now sell multivitamins in gummy form to make them more attractive to children.
Have you ever taken a gummy vitamin? How about a good old-fashioned gummy bear? If so, you know why they’re so popular! This candy is sure to stay around for many years to come.
Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1