A brief, complete history of the gummi bear

​Heaps of Haribo: The company was named using the first sounds of the words “Hans,” “Riegel” and Bonn, the company’s home city.
​Heaps of Haribo: The company was named using the first sounds of the words “Hans,” “Riegel” and Bonn, the company’s home city.
Image: Reuters / Ina Fassbender
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Hans Riegel, chief executive of the German confectionary company Haribo, died of heart failure today at the age of 90 in Bonn, according to a statement from the company. Riegel, along with his brother Paul, built the small candy company founded by their father—also named Hans—in 1920 into a global sweets powerhouse after World War II. (Fun fact: Haribo was chosen as a name by crunching together the first sounds in the words HAns RIegel and BOnn)  Here’s a brief timeline on the history of the company’s iconic gummi bears.

1920 — Haribo is founded by Hans Riegel in Bonn. According to legend the original company’s capital included a sack of sugar, a marble slab, a stove and a kettle.

1922 — Riegel invents a bear-shaped fruit flavored gelatin, which he calls Tanzbär, or “dancing bear.”

1925 — Haribo unveils a licorice-flavored Schwarzbär, or black bear.

1945 — Both Hans and Paul Riegel are held in American-run prisoner-of-war camps.

1946 — Hans Riegel junior takes over as CEO company after his father’s death.

1960 — Haribo begins manufacturing its golden Gummibärchen or “little rubber bear,” which we now know as gummi bears.

1967 — Haribo begins making multicolored gummi bears.

1975 — Haribo trademarks the term “Gold Bears,” globally. The term will be at the heart of a recent legal fight with Lindt.

1981 — First American-made gummi bear is produced by the Herman Goelitz Company (now the Jelly Belly Candy Company).

1981 — Chicago based candy concern Trolli launches its gummi worms.

1982 — Haribo opens its first US office.

1985 — A Disney produced cartoon series “Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears” premieres.

2001 — Haribo launches gelatin-free gummis that can qualify for kosher or halal status.

2009 — Paul Riegel dies.

2013 — Hans Riegel dies, leaving two nephews to run Haribo.