By Jon Roe
Things weren’t so rosy in the Weimar Republic. After 1918, Germans were fairly bummed out after being on the wrong end of an armistice after World War I and needed something to bring sunshine back into their lives. Along came Hans Riegler, owner of the Haribo candy company, and his timeless creation of gummy bears, or as he called them, Tanzbären, in 1922. Now the world feels nothing but fondness towards Germany and their delectable gummy creations.
The Haribo gold-bears, as the Tanzbären became known as in America, were introduced stateside in 1982 and since then have been slowly digesting in the hearts and minds of children, the elderly and scavenging birds. Though the contents of most foods these days are a mystery, the gummy bear can be broken down into a recognizable mix of products-with a little investigation. Here are a few products that could be found in a Tanzbären near you.
Though the original purveyors of the candy, Haribo, doesn’t use any in the making of the Gold-Bear, according to its website, paraffin wax is used in many candies to make them look shiny. Paraffin wax is a petroleum product and would be used to help the cute little bears from becoming too attached to each other inside the bag.
In the place of paraffin, Haribo uses beeswax to keep the bears from hibernating in clumps. Though the idea of consuming petroleum is unappealing, remember bees make wax by eating honey, sitting around the colony for a day, secreting the honey from their glands and then chewing on it to make it soft enough to use to make honey combs.
If you like chewy candy and hate eating animals, you might be in trouble. Gelatin, the main ingredient in gummy products, like the bears and Jell-O, is made from grinding, treating with acid and boiling of the hooves, skin, bones and tendons of animals, like pigs and cows. If you’re looking for a cheer to go with your next Jell-O shot, “moo” might be appropriate. Haribo-brand bears are made with pig gelatin.
Pectin is another agent used in the manufacturing of gummy candies, often to replace gelatin for vegetarian-friendly variety of gummy bears. Pectin is made from fruit and is often found in jams. Apples and orange peels have high pectin content.
A sweetener derived from various vegetables like wheat, rice, potatoes and corn. According to an article on Spiegel Online, the online edition of the European magazine Der Spiegel, the rise of popularity of bio-fuel caused glucose prices to rise 30 per cent in 2006 which may result in an increase in prices of products, like gummy bears, that use large amounts of glucose in their production. Damn you, Al Gore! Now you’re ruining candy!
The various colours of the candy bears aren’t the results of genetic manipulation or selective breeding but rather the effects of food dyes. All approved by the United States Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, blue dye number one, red dye red number 40, and yellow dye numbers five and six are derived from coal-tar, a by-product of the carbonization and gasification process of coal. All of the aforementioned dyes are allowed in Canadian foods as well. Another coal-tar product, Amaranth, a red/purple dye banned in the u.s. since 1976, is currently allowed in Canada as well. Delicious.