Gummy Worms: What Are They Made Of, Anyway?

America's favorite edible invertebrate.

Gummy worms may be a staple in terms of childhood memories (anyone else stock up on them at the mall's candy store before heading into a movie?), but have you ever stopped and thought what exactly you're eating?

Unlike Skittles or Starburst, which clearly mark out the flavors, it was always a bit of a mystery what flavors the different colors were supposed to represent and, unlike their cousin the gummy bears, it was always a bit of a mystery why we enjoyed something that was shaped like a slimy dirt dweller.

So what's the story behind these mysteriously delicious gummy treats? In honor of National Gummy Worm Day, which was July 15, we dug up some fun facts on this childhood favorite.

  1. The gummy candy concept apparently originated in 1922 by a German candy maker.

  • Gummy candy superstar Trolli was the first to develop the gummy worm, which happened in the early 1980s.
  • Trolli's idea was built on traditional American marketing values: making something gross enough looking to shock parents and simultaneously attract children.
  • Most gummy worms are a combination of 2-3 flavors, each with a different color. Some of the most common combos include red/orange, red/white, and green/yellow.
  • The ingredient that gives gummy worms their signature chewiness is none other but the fan favorite (kidding) gelatin. Gelatin is made from animal by-products (often bones), which not only makes gummy worms non-vegan but also makes us feel pretty gross about eating them.
  • Other major ingredients include corn syrup, the king of processed foods, sugar (21g per serving, whoa), citric acid, and lactic acid.
  • Trolli has five flavors: orange (orange), cherry (red), lime (green), lemon (yellow), and apple (colorless).

  • *Note: Haribo bears have the same orange and lemon flavors, but use green for strawberry, red for raspberry, and colorless for pineapple. This would explain why some of us were always confused why we sometimes liked green (strawberry) and sometimes didn't (lime).
  • There are two major types of Trolli gummy worms: the original and the Sour Brite Crawlers, which are covered in a layer of sweet-sour sugar crystals.
  • A grown-up version is pretty easy to make. Gummy bears or worms are both acceptable choices.
  • As veganism has become an increasingly popular choice over the last few years, many vegan gummy worm recipes have emerged.
  • This video of the world's largest gummy worm recently went viral. We're not actually sure why, because this really freaks us out. But if for some reason you feel compelled to buy one, you can.
  • Although there are other brands that have jumped in on the gummy worm fun, Trolli seems to maintain their hold on the industry.
  • The kid-friendly "worms and dirt" dessert is apparently not that outdated.
  • Okay, so the gelatin thing is kind of a bummer. But we won't lie...we're kind of craving some now. Anyone else?

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