It’s been a century ago, that Hans Riegel Sr. founded the confectionery company Haribo!
The company initial resources were one bag of sugar, a copperpot, a marble slab, a stool, an oven and a roller, this is how it was handed down in the corporate book. The company name is an acronym formed from Hans Riegel, Bonn. HA RI BO
Hans Riegel Sr. was born near Bonn. This is where he learned the profession of sugar confectionery and worked for different manufacturers. After the First World War, Hans Riegel was employed as a candy cooker at the “Heinen” company in Bonn, where he later became a business partner. The company was then renamed to “Heinen & Riegel”. In 1920 he set up his own company and register as Haribo in the Bonn trade register. Bonn is located in North Rhine-Westphalia in the west of Germany and still today, Haribo has a production facility there. In 1922 the company created the first gummy candy in the form of little gummy bears. Back then the so called “Gummibärchen” were named “Tanzbären” (dancing bears). Back in the beginning they were not only bigger as today’s known Gummibärchen but also softer since back then Acacia gum (gum arabic) was used for its first candy instead of today’s common gelatin.
The sweet became more and more popular among people, so the range of products grew and found increasing popularity. In the early years Haribo expanded his confectionery and started making liquorice products as well. The sales organization in Germany were expanded and new manufacturing plant were established. A lot of partnerships, business mergers and many local confectionery manufacturers in countries all over the world were taken over in the subsequent years. The international expansion started in the 1960s and the American market was entered in the 1980s.
Due to the early death of the company founder, Johann “Hans” Riegel in March 1945, the company was temporarily run by his wife, until the sons Hans and Paul took over the management in 1946. Today Haribo, with around 7,000 employees, operates 16 factories which produce over 100 million gummy bears per day and those are sold in more than a hundred countries.
Kids and grown-ups love it so – the happy world of Haribo
But it wasn’t always happy around the company, especially when production during World War II declined sharply because of a shortage of raw materials or in the year 2000, when Haribo was accused of having used Jewish forced labor in its factories during World War II, or in 2014 when some of the candy pieces in the “Haribo’s Skipper Mix” were shaped like caricatures of Asian, African, and Native American masks that some social justice warriors considered to be racist. As a consequence, the company pulled the “Haribo’s Skipper Mix” out of some markets and disputed the use of Jewish labor during the World War II.
Since 1935, the company has been using the catch phrase and song “Haribo macht Kinder froh” (Haribo makes children happy) which in 1962 was expanded by the addition “und Erwachsene ebenso” (and adults as well). Television became more and more popular and was also used for advertising. According to a survey by Germans TV Broadcaster “Kabel Eins”, it is the best-known slogan in Germany. Song and slogan were translated into several languages. The German advertisements were voiced by Thomas Gottschalk from 1991 until 2015. The extraordinary duration of this advertising partnership led to an entry in the Guinness Book of Records in January 2006. Gottschalk’s successor was the German comedian Michael “Bully” Herbig. Despite the success it was announced that as of 2019, Haribo no longer wanted to work with prominent advertising ambassadors. Already before that Haribo was using other advertising concepts, so it happens that you can see the candy brand stick on Kenworth-Showtrucks or even painted on airplanes!
In November 2013, the world’s only Haribo store opened in downtown Bonn. On an area of 200 square meters, the confectionery manufacturer offers the entire product range of Haribo and Maoam, a “Pick & Mix bar” where you can put together individual product mixes, as well as various merchandising items ennobled with the “golden bear logo”.
A sweet success story that celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2020!