White gummy bears are typically made with a pineapple flavoring. The white color comes from the use of titanium dioxide, which gives them their distinctive opaque white appearance. While the original gummy bear colors corresponded to different fruit flavors – with red being strawberry, orange being orange, green being lime, and so on – white gummies are almost universally made with a pineapple or coconut flavoring.
The History of White Gummy Bears
Gummy bears were first invented in Germany in 1922 by Hans Riegel, Sr. of Haribo. The original gummy candies were modeled after dancing bears popular at festivals and circuses in Europe at the time. The first gummy bears produced by Haribo came in five colors, each corresponding to a different fruit flavor – red was strawberry, orange was orange, yellow was lemon, green was lime, and clear was raspberry.
White gummy bears didn’t come onto the scene until much later. In the late 1980s, Haribo introduced a new opaque white gummy bear with a pineapple flavor. The white color was achieved by including the ingredient titanium dioxide, an odorless, tasteless white powder approved for use as a food additive. The white gummy bear allowed for more variety in flavors and colors of gummy candies.
Soon after, other gummy candy manufacturers started producing their own versions of white gummy bears. Today, most brands offer white gummies with a pineapple or coconut flavor as part of their standard gummy mix.
Why Are White Gummy Bears Pineapple Flavored?
There are a few reasons why white gummy bears are almost always pineapple flavored:
- Pineapple is a popular tropical flavor that pairs well with the opaque, creamy texture of gummy bears.
- The yellowish-white color of pineapple correlates well with the white color of the candies.
- Pineapple flavors nicely complement other fruit flavors commonly used in gummy bear assortments.
- The sweetness and mild acidity of pineapple match the flavor profile consumers expect from gummy candy.
Pineapple has a distinct fruity flavor, but it is milder than berries like strawberries or cherries. The semi-tropical, summery notes of pineapple give white gummy bears a flavor that is refreshing but still satisfyingly sweet. Pineapple also has a creamy, mouth-coating texture that corresponds nicely to the chewy, gelatinous texture of gummies. So pineapple makes a logical choice as the default flavor for white gummy bears.
Other Flavors of White Gummy Bears
While pineapple is by far the most common white gummy bear flavor, some brands offer alternative flavors as well:
- Coconut: Coconut offers creamy, tropical notes similar to pineapple, making it another popular choice for white gummies.
- Mango: Some manufacturers use mango flavoring to give their white gummy bears a more exotic, tropical fruit flavor.
- Banana: White gummy bears with a creamy banana flavor are occasionally found.
- Yogurt: For a more indulgent, dessert-like profile, some brands use yogurt flavors for their white gummy bears.
- Cream soda: Some novelty white gummy bears have a sweet cream soda taste.
- Sour flavors: Occasionally, sour flavorings like lemon or tangerine are used to put a tangy twist on white gummy bears.
However, these alternative white gummy bear flavors are relatively rare compared to the ubiquitous pineapple. Consumers have come to strongly associate the opaque white color with the sweet, juicy taste of pineapple.
The Purpose of White Food Coloring
So if white gummy bears are flavored like pineapple, why not just make them yellow? Why add an artificial white food coloring like titanium dioxide?
There are a few reasons the candy makers utilize white coloring:
- The opaque white gives the gummy bears a more appealing, uniform appearance compared to translucent, natural gelatin.
- It provides visual variety for the color mix – white contrasts well with other vibrant gummy bear colors.
- White coloring covers up the natural amber/yellowish hue of gelatin, resulting in a more pure color.
- The bright white color comes to be associated with the pineapple flavor, acting as a sort of cue to the taste.
Psychologically, the whiteness also gives consumers an impression of purity and cleanliness. It makes the gummy bears look less artificial than if they were brightly colored. So while not strictly necessary from a flavor standpoint, the white food coloring is important for the look, appeal, and branding of pineapple-flavored white gummy candies.
The Ideal Flavor Balance
When formulating white gummy bear flavorings, candy makers have to strike the perfect balance. The goal is a pleasant, fruity sweetness that brings to mind pineapple but isn’t overly authentic or tart. Natural pineapple flavor has a high level of acidic bromelain enzymes that can irritate the mouth, especially in kids. Therefore, pineapple gummy flavors are designed to capture the essence of the tropics while remaining sufficiently mild for extended snacking.
Finding this equilibrium requires blending aromatic pineapple oils with other ingredients. Formulations vary by brand, but typically include sugars, citric acid, malic acid, gum arabic, and artificial flavorings. The flavors work together to create the characteristic pineapple gummy bear taste – sweet and pineapple-y, but not too acidic or candy-like. A touch of coconut flavor can round out the profile.
Extensive testing goes into getting the flavor just right. Candy makers know that consumers expect iconic flavors in their classic candies. So whether it’s a bag of Haribo or a generic dollar store brand, white gummy bears need to deliver that nostalgic pineapple punch people know and love.
Nutrition Facts of White Gummy Bears
Like all gummy candies, white gummy bears have little inherent nutritional value:
|Nutrition Facts (per ~10 bears)
The main ingredients are sugar, corn syrup, and gelatin, along with artificial colors and flavors. A serving of ~10 gummy bears provides 40 calories entirely from carbohydrates. There is no protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, or minerals.
So while delicious, white gummy bears should be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. The fun colors and flavors can make them easy to overindulge!
Making Homemade White Gummy Bears
It’s possible to recreate white gummy bears at home using pineapple juice or pineapple Jell-O mix. Here is a simple DIY recipe:
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
- 1⁄2 cup cold water
- 1⁄2 cup boiling water
- 1⁄2 cup pineapple juice
- 1 tablespoon sweetener (optional)
- 1⁄4 teaspoon white food coloring (optional)
- Sprinkle gelatin over cold water and let bloom for 5 minutes.
- Add boiling water and stir until gelatin is fully dissolved.
- Mix in pineapple juice, sweetener if using, and food coloring if desired.
- Pour into gummy bear molds.
- Refrigerate 2-3 hours until firm.
- Remove from molds and enjoy!
You can replace the pineapple juice with 2/3 cup pineapple Jell-O mix dissolved in 1⁄2 cup boiling water for an easier version. Get creative with different juice flavors or try coconut extract in place of pineapple.
Making DIY gummy bears is a fun kitchen experiment. Just be sure to use a mold to get those iconic gummy bear shapes. Enjoy your homemade healthy, fruity treat!
Fun Facts About White Gummy Bears
- The original white gummi bear was called the “Golden Bear” when Haribo launched it in Germany in 1988.
- In a Consumer Reports taste test, the pineapple flavor of Albanese’s white gummy bears was voted as one of the best by kids and adults.
- Haribo uses real pineapple juice concentrate for the flavoring of their iconic Goldbears white gummy bears.
- Asian companies like Hi-Chew produce yogurt-flavored white gummy bears for their local market. These aren’t commonly found in North America.
- Gummy bears can be used to make vodka cocktails called “gummy bear shots”. The white gummy bears pair especially well with coconut rum.
- A 12-foot long, 1,400 pound gummy python made with white gummy bears holds the Guinness World Record for largest gummy candy sculpture.
When you bite into a white gummy bear, that cool, crisp pineapple flavor is no accident. Candy makers have honed white gummy bear flavorings over many decades, making pineapple the standard. The tropical taste strikes a winning balance – sweet enough to satisfy your sugar cravings, but light enough not to overwhelm your palate. And of course, the smooth, creamy white appearance is iconic. So next time you enjoy a handful of colorful gummy bears, save a white one for last and appreciate the science behind that delicious pineapple punch!