German businessman Hans Riegel, responsible for making gummi bears into a worldwide candy favorite, died Tuesday at age 90.
Riegel headed Haribo for almost 70 years and grew the small family company into an international business. Primarily, Haribo is known and loved for the fruity gummi bears that are the favorites of children everywhere.
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The popular candy was originally named dancing bears in honor of the bears that performed at circuses, Reuters said.
The original candies had a “fierce” expression on their faces, but they donned a smile when the company remade them in 2007.
Based in Bonn, Germany, Haribo was started by Riegel’s father and began manufacturing gummi bears in 1920. Under Riegel’s leadership, the company grew from 30 employees after World War II, and today employs 6,000 people around the world, according to The Associated Press
The company slogan, “Kids and grown-ups love it so, the happy world of Haribo,” is one of the most well-known German business slogans. The company’s business may have been given a significant push in the mid-1980s when Disney made a TV show with gummi bears in it, the AP said, althouth the two were never formally linked.
Riegel was honored in Germany both for his business acumen and for his focus on social issues, including training for young people.
Haribo told the AP that Riegel was inspired by children’s publications and said, “I love children. They are my customers. I have to be informed about what they want to nibble, what they think, what language they speak.”
On hearing about Riegel’s death, gummi bear lovers everywhere paid their respects online, some with dramatic promises:
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