Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--German Gummi Candies

     I first became aware of gummi candy as a kid, maybe around 12 or 13 (or about 1983-4).  Initially it was gummi bears, then gummi worms, then sometimes sour versions of either.  They were okay, but not one of my favorites.  So, they were an occasional purchase, but not a regular one.
     When I picked up a couple of the HARIBO gummi candy bags (once again, at a store in Washington D.C.'s Union Market district), I figured they were foreign versions of the U.S. gummi candies I'd grown accustomed to.  In this case, according to the bags' labels, Turkey's knock offs.  But even a cursory bit of research showed that I was wrong on two counts.  First, while these candies were indeed made in Turkey, HARIBO is actually a German company.  And, I had it turned around.  HARIBO invented gummi candy.  The U.S. versions (I can't remember the brands, but I'm pretty sure they weren't HARIBO products) I had were the knock offs.  Ethnocentrism strikes again. 
    HARIBO was started in 1920, by a Johannes "Hans" Reigel in Bonn, Germany.  The company name actually stands for HAns RIegel, BOnn.  In 1922 he invented gummi candy, including the traditional gummi bears.  The company was highly successful, and to date has plants all over Europe, and also, of course, Turkey.  They began to export to the U.S. in the 1980's.
     Anyway, the two kinds I bought were the Mini Rainbow Frogs and the Sour Gold-Bears (or "SOUR!!" as the cartoon bear on the label is yelling, while he closes his eyes and jumps around).  The frogs were, as advertised, very small red, green, and yellow gummis.  And they tasted like regular gummis--no better and no worse.  So alright, but not awesome or anything.  The sour gold-bears, despite their name, were colored red (raspberry flavored), orange (orange flavored), green (strawberry flavored), golden (pineapple), and yellow (lemon).  I liked them better--they were better than average, good even.  Although, to be fair, I've always liked sour gummi candy more than the non-sour regular variety, so this makes sense.  I did get a bit of a surprise as I further examined the candy wrappers.  Both were past their "best by" dates.  The gold-bears were about 3 months past, while the frogs were about a year and a half over this.  Considering this, I'm kind of impressed that the frogs were even average-tasting, given how relatively ancient they were.  And I should have been more vigilant about checking the dates when I picked these off the rack.  Plus, evidently that particular store doesn't check the dates of their wares very consistently, or else doesn't care--either way, a strike against it.
     Lastly, HARIBO has had a couple of controversies surrounding it.  First off, some have accused the company of using Jewish forced labor during World War II.  (The company denies this, and I couldn't find definitive proof of this.)  Then in 2014 HARIBO's Skipper Mix, which was released in Sweden and Denmark, contained candies in shapes that some found offensive.  Specifically, they were facial caricatures and masks of Africans, Asians, and Native Americans, that some thought were racist.  The bags were pulled off the shelves, and the offending candy shapes were discontinued.

No comments:

Post a Comment