24 April 2012

Gummi Bears

Gummi bears. Bright-squishy sweetness exploding in your mouth, setting your senses tingling. (Or else, artificially-coloured sugariness sticking to your teeth, setting your cavities screaming, as it were. But that's beside the point, for now.) Okay, confession time: I have an addiction to gummi candies. If there are some in the house, I'll eat them, even to the point of making myself sick. Twelve-Step, anyone?

So I was looking it up online (I had to find out the correct spelling: gummibears, gummi bears, gummy bears?), and the wikipedia has this to say: "A gummi bear (also spelled as gummy bear) is a small, rubbery-textured confectionery, similar to a jelly baby in English-speaking countries." Rubbery-textured? Excuse me? That soft-squishy, melt-in-your-mouth consistency? That's not rubbery! Not when it's fresh, anyway. But then, actually, "Gummi" does mean "rubber", so I suppose Mr Hans Riegel of Bonn would concur, he who invented and named the first and still best variety of gummi bears (get it? HAns RIegel BOnn. Haribo.).

So then the other day, when I was supposed to be doing research for the term paper I was supposed to be writing (yes, there was a whole lot of supposing going on that day), I was eating those gummi bears you see in that picture here (alas, they are no more), and I started wondering how the gummi confectioners make the little darlin's so perfectly uniform and precisely detailed; you can even see their cute little eyes (just before you decapitate them with one vicious snap of your teeth). I looked it up (that's research, too, isn't it?) and found this perfectly fascinating episode of How It's Made. Turns out the gummies are moulded in cornstarch! Flat trays of cornstarch are printed with bear or worm or cola bottle moulds, then the syrupy gummi goo gets poured into those holes and left to firm up, then it's all dumped out, the cornstarch gets recycled, and the candies go into a tumbler where first the excess cornstarch is tumbled off and then they get coated in mineral oil (uh, yeah. My favourite candies have baby oil on them. Whatever...). So now you know.

Incidentally, if you're into a a bit of macabre gummi bear fun, you can do an amusing little mix-and-match game: you take two or three different colours of gummi bears, bite off the heads and feet, and then reattach them to the different-coloured bodies. VoilĂ , multi-coloured gummi bears. And then you eat them, of course. Whaddaya mean, on a need-to-know basis you didn't need to know about that? (Steve thinks I should stick to eating gummi worms; he finds the thought of my messing about with effigies of bears too disturbing.)

Life, the Universe, and Gummi Bears. Unfortunately, I don't think there's any left over from Easter.