Gummy Bear: The modern successors of Turkish delight

According to candy historian Beth Kimmele, the author of Candy: A Sweat Histor, “gummy candies descend from Turkish delight and even Japanese rice candy, both typically made with rice or corn starch versus gelatine. Even though the German gummy bear were not the first gelatine-based chewy candy, it reformed the sweets industry with its perfect texture, fruity taste and, most importantly, their joyful bear figures.

Turkish delight

Turkish delight (lokum) is the most important sweet in Turkish cuisine and without any doubts it is embedded in Turkish national identity. This unique confection is made of sugar, water and cornstarch, classically flavoured with rosewater, lemon, mint, pistachios and nuts. Turkish delight was invented in the late 18th century in Istanbul by a young confectioner, Bekir Affendi. Affendi improved an old recipe, replaced honey and flour with the newly available beet sugar and cornstarch and the result was something very new and truly irresistible. The new delight got its name “lokum” after the Arabic rahat-ul hulkum, which means "throat-soothing morsel". Lokum became super-famous very quickly among Turks. Even the sultan got “addicted” to this sweet chewy jelly and rewarded Affendi by appointing him chief confectioner of the palace. The name Turkish delight was given to lokum by an English lord who brought the sweet back to London after his trip to Istanbul. Just like Turks, English people, and soon after the whole world, fell in love with Turkish delight. The confection won world fair medals in Vienna, Cologne, Brussels and Paris. The original recipe of Turkish delight has not changed in the last 200 years just like Affendi’s first store, Haci Bekir which is still at the same place as it was in the late 18th century. The company Haci Bekir is owned by Affendi’s great grandchildren and the confectionery run by the same family.

Gummy Bear

Gummy Bear, the original product of Haribo, the famous German candy factory, has 100 years old history. It started with devoted factory worker Hans Riegel who decided to start his own sweets company in Bonn. The name of the new company is a combination of his name and hometown: HA+RI+BO. He had a genius idea to produce gelatine-based soft candies instead of the usual hard ones. He created a funny and playful treat that became many kids’ favourite thanks to its colourful, shimmery look and the trademark bear-shape. The Haribo company started to grow significantly in the 60s under the leadership of Riegel’s sons. Until that time Haribo produced a bigger “more real looking” gummy bear candies but with Europe-wide mass production and more kid-friendly marketing the shape of the bears reached the well-known squatter form. Gummy bears have become the trademark of Haribo and the most famous out of all the uncountable gummy candies on the market. According to candy historian Beth Kimmele, “shape isn’t everything,...Haribo’s popularity has to do with their texture and flavours”.

Make your gummies at home!

Gummy Bear: The modern successors of Turkish delight

Gummy Bear: The modern successors of Turkish delight (Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay)

Making your own healthy version of gummy candies is much simpler than it seems. Only 3 ingredients are needed and a silicone gummy bear mold that is possible to order online. The three ingredients are fresh fruit juice (any type), honey and gelatine. The critical ingredient is gelatine so it is important to choose a good quality natural version. (Gelatine is a translucent, colourless, flavourless food ingredient, derived from collagen taken from animal body parts such as skins or bones of pigs and cows. Gelatine is pure protein which makes it very healthy.) To prepare gummy bears you need to boil the juice (1 cup) and the honey (3 tablespoons) together and then add gelatine powder (3 tablespoons). After whisking the mixture, pour it into the molds and put it in the fridge for 15 minutes. This very basic recipe can be altered by trying different flavours, different types of gelatine and sweetener. Enjoy!