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8 Fun Facts About Gummies

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The candy world was crushed this week—the king of the gummi bear has died.

On October 15, Haribo owner Hans Riegel of Bonn, Germany, passed away at age 90, leaving behind a candy-coated, fruity-flavored empire of gold-bears, frogs, rattle snakes, assorted fruits, and soda bottles (happy and fizzy!). He didn't start the Haribo company—his dad, also Hans Riegel, did, in 1920. Nor did he conceive the first gummi bear, which his father actually made out of licorice and called “dancing bears” in the early years of the Haribo company. But the prodigal son inherited the business after World War II and introduced the iconic bear-shaped, gelatin-based treat as we know it in the late 1960s.

Gummy candy is enjoyed all over the world in different shapes, sizes, and flavors. Some would argue the chewy, flavorful, gelatinous snacks are addicting—so much so that Haribo boasts if all the gummi bears they produce in one year were lined up head to toe, it would create a chain that would circle the planet four times.

Here are 8 more sweet facts about gummy candy. (Warning, we cannot guarantee that you won't want to immediately run to the nearest grocer and purchase mass quantities of gummies after reading.)

1. Made with Love

The Haribo recipe for gummies is a closely guarded secret, but a simple web search will unearth dozens of alternate recipes for homemade gummy treats. The base for most gummy candy is gelatin, which needs to be heated and combined with flavor, coloring and sugar (or some kind of sweetening agent). Once prepared, the mix is poured into moulds shaped like teddy bears, or whatever else the heart desires, and left to harden, often in the freezer.

2. Nuts for Sweets

The elder Hans Riegel started an autumn tradition in the 1930s whereby children could come to his factory bearing acorns and chestnuts that would be exchanged for some sweets. Today the event is held in late October/early November at Haribo’s Bonn HQ, and the collected nuts go to feed animals in wildlife sanctuaries. Folks stand in line for hours with giant bags of acorns and/or chestnuts and go home with boxes of free Haribo treats. Ten kilos of chestnuts or 5 kilos of acorns will land you a bag of goldbären (a.k.a. gold-bears).  

3. Worming their way in.

America didn't get a taste of gummi bears until 1982, when Haribo opened up its American factory in Baltimore. But Trolli, another German confectioner, finding huge successes in the American market, introduced a gummy “worm” a year earlier—a candy designed to both intrigue kids and gross out their parents. While bears are generally considered the classic, worms themselves are a wildly popular gummy standard.

4. Gummies get weird

There's a very good reason Haribo's “Arsch mit Ohren” (translation: a German insult meaning “ass with ears”) was a limited edition. There's also a good reason Trolli's “Road Kill” gummies weren't so well received. The company was forced to stop making gummies in the shape of flattened critters with tire marks in 2005, after the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals argued it encouraged children to be cruel to animals. Meanwhile, across the world, a Japanese restaurant offers life-sized gummy models of customers.

5. Gummies, they do a body good.

Well, technically they don’t usually have much fat, if any at all, and the gelatin does contain some protein. But one can’t exactly argue that traditional gummies and their often high sugar content are “good” for you. But researchers have made some strides for the sake of gummy lovers the world over. Take gummy vitamins, for instance. To make vitamins more palatable (and fun!), several vitamin brands like One A Day, Vitafusion and Nature Made make gummy versions of their nutritional supplements. And now some researchers have been testing the effects of adding cavity-fighting xylitol to the candies.

6. Gummies go big.

The Guinness Book of World Records lists the largest gummy bear in recorded history as an 81-pound, 3-ounce gummy bear that stood two feet tall and two feet wide. A Sunday school class teamed up with a restaurant in San Antonio, Texas in 2011 to create the sugary behemoth. Other notable gargantuan gummies include a three-pound, two-foot, 4,000-calorie gummy worm sold online.

7. Gummy explosion

A Washington, D.C. science teacher’s experiment went viral in 2008, in the video of a red gummi bear meeting his maker in a prolonged fiery explosion inside a test tube filled with hot potassium chlorate. KClO3 is a strong oxidizing agent often used as a disinfectant and in fireworks and explosives. Gummi bears contain lots of sucrose, which is a substance easily oxidized. Mix ‘em together and heat it all up and you get a dazzling dance recital from a flaming piece of candy.    

8. Drunken gummies.

A popular, highly unsanctioned, alternate adult use of gummy candy—bears seem to be most often used—is to soak them in vodka for a prescribed amount of time, after which time they become a happy hour treat. The gummies absorb the alcohol and pack a little extra punch. Find out how to make them here.

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13 Fascinating Facts About Nina Simone
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Nina Simone, who would’ve celebrated her 85th birthday today, was known for using her musical platform to speak out. “I think women play a major part in opening the doors for better understanding around the world,” the “Strange Fruit” songstress once said. Though she chose to keep her personal life shrouded in secrecy, these facts grant VIP access into a life well-lived and the music that still lives on.

1. NINA SIMONE WAS HER STAGE NAME.

The singer was born as Eunice Waymon on February 21, 1933. But by age 21, the North Carolina native was going by a different name at her nightly Atlantic City gig: Nina Simone. She hoped that adopting a different name would keep her mother from finding out about her performances. “Nina” was her boyfriend’s nickname for her at the time. “Simone” was inspired by Simone Signoret, an actress that the singer admired.

2. SHE HAD HUMBLE BEGINNINGS.


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There's a reason that much of the singer's music had gospel-like sounds. Simone—the daughter of a Methodist minister and a handyman—was raised in the church and started playing the piano by ear at age 3. She got her start in her hometown of Tryon, North Carolina, where she played gospel hymns and classical music at Old St. Luke’s CME, the church where her mother ministered. After Simone died on April 21, 2003, she was memorialized at the same sanctuary.

3. SHE WAS BOOK SMART...

Simone, who graduated valedictorian of her high school class, studied at the prestigious Julliard School of Music for a brief period of time before applying to Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. Unfortunately, Simone was denied admission. For years, she maintained that her race was the reason behind the rejection. But a Curtis faculty member, Vladimir Sokoloff, has gone on record to say that her skin color wasn’t a factor. “It had nothing to do with her…background,” he said in 1992. But Simone ended up getting the last laugh: Two days before her death, the school awarded her an honorary degree.

4. ... WITH DEGREES TO PROVE IT.

Simone—who preferred to be called “doctor Nina Simone”—was also awarded two other honorary degrees, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Malcolm X College.

5. HER CAREER WAS ROOTED IN ACTIVISM.

A photo of Nina Simone circa 1969

Gerrit de Bruin

At the age of 12, Simone refused to play at a church revival because her parents had to sit at the back of the hall. From then on, Simone used her art to take a stand. Many of her songs in the '60s, including “Mississippi Goddamn,” “Why (The King of Love Is Dead),” and “Young, Gifted and Black,” addressed the rampant racial injustices of that era.

Unfortunately, her activism wasn't always welcome. Her popularity diminished; venues didn’t invite her to perform, and radio stations didn’t play her songs. But she pressed on—even after the Civil Rights Movement. In 1997, Simone told Interview Magazine that she addressed her songs to the third world. In her own words: “I’m a real rebel with a cause.”

6. ONE OF HER MOST FAMOUS SONGS WAS BANNED.

Mississippi Goddam,” her 1964 anthem, only took her 20 minutes to an hour to write, according to legend—but it made an impact that still stands the test of time. When she wrote it, Simone had been fed up with the country’s racial unrest. Medger Evers, a Mississippi-born civil rights activist, was assassinated in his home state in 1963. That same year, the Ku Klux Klan bombed a Birmingham Baptist church and as a result, four young black girls were killed. Simone took to her notebook and piano to express her sentiments.

“Alabama's gotten me so upset/Tennessee made me lose my rest/And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam,” she sang.

Some say that the song was banned in Southern radio stations because “goddam” was in the title. But others argue that the subject matter is what caused the stations to return the records cracked in half.

7. SHE NEVER HAD A NUMBER ONE HIT.

Nina Simone released over 40 albums during her decades-spanning career including studio albums, live versions, and compilations, and scored 15 Grammy nominations. But her highest-charting (and her first) hit, “I Loves You, Porgy,” peaked at #2 on the U.S. R&B charts in 1959. Still, her music would go on to influence legendary singers like Roberta Flack and Aretha Franklin.

8. SHE USED HER STYLE TO MAKE A STATEMENT.

Head wraps, bold jewelry, and floor-skimming sheaths were all part of Simone’s stylish rotation. In 1967, she wore the same black crochet fishnet jumpsuit with flesh-colored lining for the entire year. Not only did it give off the illusion of her being naked, but “I wanted people to remember me looking a certain way,” she said. “It made it easier for me.”

9. SHE HAD MANY HOMES.

New York City, Liberia, Barbados, England, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands were all places that Simone called home. She died at her home in Southern France, and her ashes were scattered in several African countries.

10. SHE HAD A FAMOUS INNER CIRCLE.

During the late '60s, Simone and her second husband Andrew Stroud lived next to Malcolm X and his family in Mount Vernon, New York. He wasn't her only famous pal. Simone was very close with playwright Lorraine Hansberry. After Hansberry’s death, Simone penned “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” in her honor, a tribute to Hansberry's play of the same title. Simone even struck up a brief friendship with David Bowie in the mid-1970s, who called her every night for a month to offer his advice and support.

11. YOU CAN STILL VISIT SIMONE IN HER HOMETOWN.

Photo of Nina Simone
Amazing Nina Documentary Film, LLC, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

In 2010, an 8-foot sculpture of Eunice Waymon was erected in her hometown of Tryon, North Carolina. Her likeness stands tall in Nina Simone Plaza, where she’s seated and playing an eternal song on a keyboard that floats in midair. Her daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, gave sculptor Zenos Frudakis some of Simone’s ashes to weld into the sculpture’s bronze heart. "It's not something very often done, but I thought it was part of the idea of bringing her home," Frudakis said.

12. YOU'VE PROBABLY HEARD HER MUSIC IN RECENT HITS.

Rihanna sang a few verses of Simone’s “Do What You Gotta Do” on Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo. He’s clearly a superfan: “Blood on the Leaves” and his duet with Jay Z, “New Day,” feature Simone samples as well, along with Lil’ Wayne’s “Dontgetit,” Common’s “Misunderstood” and a host of other tracks.

13. HER MUSIC IS STILL BEING PERFORMED.

Nina Revisited… A Tribute to Nina Simone was released along with the Netflix documentary in 2015. On the album, Lauryn Hill, Jazmine Sullivan, Usher, Alice Smith, and more paid tribute to the legend by performing covers of 16 of her most famous tracks.

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Animals
Watch the First-Ever Footage of a Baby Dumbo Octopus
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Dumbo octopuses are named for the elephant-ear-like fins they use to navigate the deep sea, but until recently, when and how they developed those floppy appendages were a mystery. Now, for the first time, researchers have caught a newborn Dumbo octopus on tape. As reported in the journal Current Biology, they discovered that the creatures are equipped with the fins from the moment they hatch.

Study co-author Tim Shank, a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, spotted the octopus in 2005. During a research expedition in the North Atlantic, one of the remotely operated vehicles he was working with collected several coral branches with something strange attached to them. It looked like a bunch of sandy-colored golf balls at first, but then he realized it was an egg sac.

He and his fellow researchers eventually classified the hatchling that emerged as a member of the genus Grimpoteuthis. In other words, it was a Dumbo octopus, though they couldn't determine the exact species. But you wouldn't need a biology degree to spot its resemblance to Disney's famous elephant, as you can see in the video below.

The octopus hatched with a set of functional fins that allowed it to swim around and hunt right away, and an MRI scan revealed fully-developed internal organs and a complex nervous system. As the researchers wrote in their study, Dumbo octopuses enter the world as "competent juveniles" ready to jump straight into adult life.

Grimpoteuthis spends its life in the deep ocean, which makes it difficult to study. Scientists hope the newly-reported findings will make it easier to identify Grimpoteuthis eggs and hatchlings for future research.

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