Haribo’s little bear cubs celebrate their 100th birthday


The German confectionery giant is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its “Golden Bears”, born in 1922. Today it is the group’s first brand.

Little cubs now centenarians. Haribo celebrates the hundredth anniversary of its famous “Golden Bear” sweets, Goldbaren in the original German version, born in 1922. A product that is inseparable from the Haribo brand: no less than 160 million bears leave the production lines of the German confectionery giant every day. It is today, by far, the first reference of the group at the world level, for which it represents almost a third of the turnover.

These gummy bears are almost as old as the company itself. Hans Riegel, who founded Haribo in 1920, needed a star product. Contrary to the habits of the time, he decides to give his candy a shape: he chooses the bear and names it Tanzbär, “dancing bear”, inspired by these shows popular in Germany until the beginning of the 20th century. the Tanzbärmade with gum arabic and not gelatin like today, received its colors and aromas the same year.

A sachet of Goldbären sold in Germany in 1961.
A sachet of Goldbären sold in Germany in 1961. © Haribo

Sold individually, it enjoyed notable success in a country ravaged by inflation. After the war, when Hans Riegel’s sons took over the business, he experienced a second youth. It was in the 1960s that the candy as we know it today was truly created. The sachet replaces the tin can to adapt to new consumer habits. the Tanzbär is renamed Goldbaren. Now mass produced, it leaves its native land to be exported all over Europe

1960s makeover

Above all, it’s a complete makeover: the bear becomes smaller, rounder, more colorful. “It’s a stroke of marketing genius”, assures Jean-Philippe André, president of Haribo France, for whom the bear has “accompanied the development of the group”. The recipe has changed little since that time, but it adapts to customers: the dimensions do not change (10 millimeters wide by 23 millimeters high for 2.3 grams exactly) but the taste, color or texture may vary from country to country.

“The texture of the candy is firmer in Germany, and more supple in France, Italy or Spain, in the same packaging”, explains Jean-Philippe André, who specifies that there are only five different tastes, instead of six usually, in some countries.

Haribo is counting on the anniversary of its flagship product to put it back in the spotlight. In addition to a new advertising campaign on television, a limited edition of fruit juices should soon land in French supermarkets to ride the wave of naturalness, as other confectionery brands are doing. “It’s a life-size test on this product to observe the reaction of customers in stores,” notes Jean-Philippe André.

Tagada, Smurfs and Dragibus

Because, unlike other countries such as the United States, where teddy bears represent 80% of the group’s sales, competition is fierce in France within the Haribo portfolio itself, which accounts for 43% in value of the tricolor market of sugar confectionery. The French prefer Tagada, Smurfs, Dragibus and other crocodiles: for each kilogram of Goldbears sold, Haribo sells about five kilograms of Dragibus. There is still space for the cubs.

Jeremy Bruno BFMTV journalist


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