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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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8 Things We Know About Stranger Things Season 3
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[Warning: There are lots of Stranger Things season two spoilers ahead.]

Stranger Things season two is in the books, and like we all hoped, it turned out to be a worthy follow-up to an addictive debut season. Now, though, we’re left with plenty of questions, mysteries, and theories to chew on as the wait for a third season begins. But for everything we don’t know about what the next year of Stranger Things will bring us (such as an actual release date), there are more than enough things we do know to keep those fan theories coming well into 2018. While the show hasn't been officially greenlit for a third season by Netflix yet, new details have already begun to trickle out. Here’s everything we know about Stranger Things season three so far.

1. THERE WILL BE ANOTHER TIME JUMP.

The third season of Stranger Things won’t pick up right where the second one left off. Like the show experienced between the first two seasons, there will be a time jump between seasons two and three as well. The reason is simple: the child actors are all growing up, and instead of having the kids look noticeably older without explanation for year three, the Duffer Brothers told The Hollywood Reporter:

“Our kids are aging. We can only write and produce the show so fast. They're going to be almost a year older by the time we start shooting season three. It provides certain challenges. You can't start right after season two ended. It forces you to do a time jump. But what I like is that it makes you evolve the show. It forces the show to evolve and change, because the kids are changing.”

2. THE IDEA IS TO BE SMALLER IN SCALE.

If the series’s second season was about expanding the Stranger Things mythology, the third season won't go bigger just for the sake of it, with the brothers even going so far as to say that it will be a more intimate story.

“It’s not necessarily going to be bigger in scale,” Matt Duffer said in an interview with IndieWire. “What I am really excited about is giving these characters an interesting journey to go on.”

Ross Duffer did stress, though, that as of early November, season three is basically “… Matt and me working with some writers and figuring out where it’s going to go.”

3. THE MIND FLAYER WILL BE BACK.

The second season ended on a bit of a foreboding note when it was revealed that the Mind Flayer was still in the Upside Down and was seen looming over the Hawkins school as the winter dance was going on. Though we know there will be a time jump at the start of next season, it’s clear that the monster will still have a big presence on the show.

Executive producer Dan Cohen told TV Guide: "There were other ways we could have ended beyond that, but I think that was a very strong, lyrical ending, and it really lets us decide to focus where we ultimately are going to want to go as we dive into Season 3."

What does the Mind Flayer’s presence mean for the new crop of episodes? Well, there will be plenty of fan theories to ponder between now and the season three premiere (whenever that may be).

4. PLENTY OF LEFTOVER SEASON TWO STORYLINES WILL BE IN SEASON THREE.

The Duffer Brothers had a lot of material for the latest season of the show—probably a bit too much. Talking to Vulture, Matt Duffer detailed a few details and plot points that had to be pushed to season three:

"Billy was supposed to have a bigger role. We ended up having so many characters it ended up, in a way, more teed up for season three than anything. There was a whole teen supernatural story line that just got booted because it was just too cluttered, you know? A lot of that’s just getting kicked into season three."

The good news is that he also told the site that this wealth of cut material could make the writing process for the third season much quicker.

5. THERE WILL BE MORE ERICA.

Stranger Things already had a roster of fan-favorite characters heading into season two, but newcomer Erica, Lucas’s little sister, may have overshadowed them all. Played by 11-year-old Priah Ferguson, Erica is equal parts expressive, snarky, and charismatic. And the Duffer Brothers couldn’t agree more, saying that there will be much more Erica next season.

“There will definitely be more Erica in Season 3,” Ross Duffer told Yahoo!. “That is the fun thing about the show—you discover stuff as you’re filming. We were able to integrate more of her in, but not as much you want because the story [was] already going. ‘We got to use more Erica’—that was one of the first things we said in the writers’ room.”

“I thought she’s very GIF-able, if that’s a word,” Matt Duffer added. “She was great.”

6. EXPECT KALI TO RETURN.

The season two episode “The Lost Sister” was a bit of an outlier for the series. It’s a standalone episode that focuses solely on the character Eleven, leaving the central plot and main cast of Hawkins behind. As well-received as Stranger Things season two was, this episode was a near-unanimous miss among fans and critics.

The episode did, however, introduce us to the character of Kali (Linnea Berthelsen), who has the ability to manipulate people’s minds with illusions she creates. Despite the reaction, the Duffers felt the episode was vital to Eleven’s development, and that Kali won’t be forgotten moving forward.

“It feels weird to me that we wouldn’t solve [Kali’s] storyline. I would say chances are very high she comes back,” Matt Duffer said at the Vulture Festival.

7. OTHER "NUMBERS" MIGHT SHOW UP.

We're already well acquainted with Eleven, and season two introduced us to Eight (a.k.a. Kali), and executive producer Shawn Levy heavily hinted to E! that there are probably more Hawkins Laboratory experiments on the horizon.

"I think we've clearly implied there are other numbers, and I can't imagine that the world will only ever know Eleven and Eight," Levy said.

8. THERE MIGHT NOT BE MANY SEASONS LEFT.

Don’t be in too much of a rush to find out everything about the next season of Stranger Things; there might not be many more left. The Duffer Brothers have said in the past that the plan is to do four seasons and end it. However, Levy gave fans a glimmer of hope that things may go on a little while longer—just by a bit, though.

“Hearts were heard breaking in Netflix headquarters when the Brothers made four seasons sound like an official end, and I was suddenly getting phone calls from our actors’ agents,” Levy told Entertainment Weekly. “The truth is we’re definitely going four seasons and there’s very much the possibility of a fifth. Beyond that, it becomes I think very unlikely.”

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Why Do Fruitcakes Last So Long?
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Fruitcake is a shelf-stable food unlike any other. One Ohio family has kept the same fruitcake uneaten (except for periodic taste tests) since it was baked in 1878. In Antarctica, a century-old fruitcake discovered in artifacts left by explorer Robert Falcon Scott’s 1910 expedition remains “almost edible,” according to the researchers who found it. So what is it that makes fruitcake so freakishly hardy?

It comes down to the ingredients. Fruitcake is notoriously dense. Unlike almost any other cake, it’s packed chock-full of already-preserved foods, like dried and candied nuts and fruit. All those dry ingredients don’t give microorganisms enough moisture to reproduce, as Ben Chapman, a food safety specialist at North Carolina State University, explained in 2014. That keeps bacteria from developing on the cake.

Oh, and the booze helps. A good fruitcake involves plenty of alcohol to help it stay shelf-stable for years on end. Immediately after a fruitcake cools, most bakers will wrap it in a cheesecloth soaked in liquor and store it in an airtight container. This keeps mold and yeast from developing on the surface. It also keeps the cake deliciously moist.

In fact, fruitcakes aren’t just capable of surviving unspoiled for months on end; some people contend they’re better that way. Fruitcake fans swear by the aging process, letting their cakes sit for months or even years at a stretch. Like what happens to a wine with age, this allows the tannins in the fruit to mellow, according to the Wisconsin bakery Swiss Colony, which has been selling fruitcakes since the 1960s. As it ages, it becomes even more flavorful, bringing out complex notes that a young fruitcake (or wine) lacks.

If you want your fruitcake to age gracefully, you’ll have to give it a little more hooch every once in a while. If you’re keeping it on the counter in advance of a holiday feast a few weeks away, the King Arthur Flour Company recommends unwrapping it and brushing it with whatever alcohol you’ve chosen (brandy and rum are popular choices) every few days. This is called “feeding” the cake, and should happen every week or so.

The aging process is built into our traditions around fruitcakes. In Great Britain, one wedding tradition calls for the bride and groom to save the top tier of a three-tier fruitcake to eat until the christening of the couple’s first child—presumably at least a year later, if not more.

Though true fruitcake aficionados argue over exactly how long you should be marinating your fruitcake in the fridge, The Spruce says that “it's generally recommended that soaked fruitcake should be consumed within two years.” Which isn't to say that the cake couldn’t last longer, as our century-old Antarctic fruitcake proves. Honestly, it would probably taste OK if you let it sit in brandy for a few days.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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