The man who transformed gummi bears into a global confectionery powerhouse died Tuesday of an unexpected heart failure.

Hans Riegel, together with his brother, Paul, took over operations of the Bonn, Germany-based confectionery company in 1945. 

Hans Riegel
Hans Riegel

He had been convalescing in an inpatient rehabilitation center after the removal of a benign brain tumor.

Although it was his father who invented the “dancing bear” gummi in 1922, Hans is credited with turning Haribo into a multinational confectionery powerhouse with sales exceeding $3 billion.

Taking advantage of a post-war economic surge in Germany, Riegel worked diligently to maximize the gummi bear’s appeal to both children and adults. In just five years, the company’s workforce grew from 30 to 1,000 . During the 1960s and 1970s, Haribo acquired businesses in Europe, eventually setting up Haribo of America in 1982.

Today, the company has 15 production facilities, 10 of which are in Europe. In addition to the famed gummi bears, Haribo produces a broad range of gummi treats.

On the company’s website, the following message appears.

“With a heavy heart and deepest regret, we hereby announce the sad news that Dr. Hans Riegel has passed away in Bonn today at the age of ninety...We are mourning an exceptional business man and also an outstanding personality who will be remembered by many as a friend and supporter, a mentor and not least also an inspiring role model. His pioneering spirit led to the establishment of a company that is unique in the world, and the creation of a brand whose global profile and popularity are almost unrivalled.

We owe Dr. Hans Riegel a debt of thanks, as he had the foresight to change the company's direction in time to ensure its successful future and steady growth. All of us are now called upon to continue his lifetime's work together.

Dr. Hans Riegel dedicated his life to Haribo, passionately pursuing the vision that the Haribo brand should bring a ray of sunshine into people's everyday lives right until the end.

Our deepest sympathies go to Dr. Hans Riegel's relatives, friends and close companions. May they find the strength necessary to overcome this painful loss with fortitude.”