Conor O'Rourke's guide to food souvenirs from Germany was conveniently published just as I began my week-long trip in Berlin back in April. And out of everything on his list, the item that stood out to me the most was Haribo gummies—not because I love Haribo gummies, but because in the comments, Serious Eaters insisted that those made in the Haribo homeland of Germany (also the gummy bear birthplace; Haribo invented them in 1922) tasted better than those sold in the US, which are made in Turkey. I smelled a taste test.
And that's why I returned with 1.5 kilograms of German Haribo gummy bears, officially called Goldbären, or Gold-Bears.
Our blind taste test proved that there are big differences between German and American Haribo gummy bears, but is one better than the other? That depends on personal preference.
The gummies were considerably different in color, texture, and flavor. Color was the first noticeable one: The American ones, made with artificial colors, were more vivid than the German ones, which are made with natural colors. Texture-wise, the American ones were much softer and easier to chew than the slightly tougher, more jaw-tiring German ones. The German bears generally had a more pronounced flavor that was closer to real fruit than the American ones.
So who won? The office was split; about half preferred one over the other. But most agreed that the German bears had better flavor and the American bears had better texture. Whichever "won" depended on what was more important to the taster.
Even if you prefer the American/Turkish versions over the German ones, it's still worth checking out the Haribo section at a supermarket in Germany and giving yourself an excuse to try something new. Bask in the candy glow. Bask.
Here are some mildly more specific notes about the individual flavors. (For more detailed tasting notes, check out Candy Blog's review.)
Raspberry: Tasters described the American gummies as being sweeter, more fake, and less flavorful, although some preferred the softer texture. German won for its stronger flavor.
Orange: Tasters were split on which one they preferred. Those who preferred the German one called it juicy, floral, and tart.
Lemon: Tasters were split on this flavor, too. Some thought the German one was more strongly flavored, while detractors said it reminded them of cleaning fluid.
Pineapple: Most thought the American one was weaker. Those who liked the German one described it as sweet, tart, and not too fake.
Strawberry: Did you know strawberry = green in the US? We didn't, at first. Because...why. In Germany, strawberry is suitably pink, while green is given to apple, a flavor that isn't in the American pack. German won; a few tasters called it their favorite flavor in the pack.
German: Glucose syrup; sugar; gelatin; dextrose; fruit juice from concentrate: apple, strawberry, raspberry, orange, lemon, pineapple; citric acid, lemon, pineapple; citric acid; fruit and plant concentrates: nettle, apple, spinach, kiwi, orange, elderberry, lemon, mango, passionfruit, blackcurrant, aronia, grape; flavorings; glazing agents: white and yellow beeswax; carnauba wax; elderberry extract; fruit extract from carob; invert sugar syrup
American (Turkish): Corn syrup, sugar, gelatin, dextrose, citric acid, starch, artificial and natural flavors, fractionated coconut oil, carnauba wax, beeswax coating, artificial colors: yellow 5, red 40, blue 1
Nutrients per 100 grams
|Calories||343 kcal||359 kcal|
|Protein||6.9 g||7.7 grams|
|Carbs/Sugars||77.4 g / 45.6 g||79.5 g / 53.8 g|
About the author: Robyn Lee is the editor of A Hamburger Today and takes many of the photos for Serious Eats. She'll also doodle cute stuff when necessary. Read more from Robyn at her personal food blog, The Girl Who Ate Everything.