Just what, pray tell, is a gummy worm? And how do you catch it? Do you dig for them in the dirt? No, these worms don’t live in the dark ground, so you won’t find them in your flower bed, but you can find them at the candy store.
The History of Gummies
Where do Gummy (Gummi) worms (bears, frogs, hamburgers, sharks, Coke bottles) come from? Around 1920, a German candy maker invented a line of colorless hard candies, but these did not do as well as he expected. So, trading on the popularity of bears (teddy bears in particular), he produced gelatinous fruit-flavored bears – dancing bears to be precise. This was a huge hit and the company he formed to sell his gummy bears is still around today. We know it as Haribo; the name is a combination of his first and last names (Hans Riegel) and his hometown (Bonn).
Although Hans is credited with the creation of gummy candy, it has actually been around for hundreds of years, though probably not called “gummy.” This confection is a spin-off of Turkish Delight, which is typically made with cornstarch, not gelatin.
The process of making gummy candies is akin to the making of jams and jellies since they too use sugar cooked with fruit as do gummies. Other gummy-like candies such as gumdrops predate the gummies; however, none had the same chewy quality as gummy bears. In 1975, Haribo trademarked the name Goldbaren from the German words for gold and cute for their Gold Bears. In 1981, the Trolli Company in the US launched the first gummy worms which are just one type of the popular gummy candy.
Hans Riegel, who was unsatisfied with his job as a confectionery worker in a shop, started Haribo in his own kitchen. Today, we can follow in his footsteps and make our own gummy candy at home too. Believe it or not, these candies are nearly a health food! Well, not really, but adding more gelatin to your diet is good. Gelatin supports strong nails, hair, and skin growth and can even tighten saggy skin. But, that is not all, gelatin benefits muscle growth, strengthens joints, and is good for your digestion. How’s that for healthy?
Here’s How It’s Done
In a medium saucepan combine 12 tbsp of sugar, 3-1/3 cups of raspberry or other fruit juice, and 8 tbsp of corn syrup. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly just until sugar dissolves. Stir in 8 tbsp unflavored gelatin, and stir until it melts. If desired, add in food coloring now.
In a tall container, such as a mason jar, stand up 50 straws and place on a cookie sheet or plate to catch the overflow. You can add a rubber band to help keep the straws upright. Pour the liquid gelatin mix over the straws, filling to within 2 inches of the top. Place the plate in the refrigerator until the gelatin mix is firm. Once gelled, remove the straws from the container, and use your fingers to squeeze the “worms” out, starting at the bottom and squeezing up.
There you have it, your very own homemade gummy worms. Bon appétit!