I know this about myself: I will not settle for a mediocre gummy bear. I may live in a walkup of multiple flights, I may not tell the waiter when they serve my steak medium rather than the ordered medium rare, and I once sulked all day when Lennys charged me for avocado, yet failed to provide it - but I uphold a standard of gummy bear excellence. It is what I deserve (and pays my dentist’s bills.)
After years of buying Black Forest bears, special-ordering Swedish gummies, enjoying Sugarfina champagne bears, the only ones worth your money are Albanese Gummi Bears. Oh, do you like Haribo? Leave right now. I’m kidding, (sort of.) You can stay if you like the German version versus the American ones. But let me tell you now: taste test these Albanese gummies and you’ll agree that they’re the best.
I found my favorites at Fairway, of all places. They were in the bulk candy section by the register and caught my eye because they had colors I had never even seen before. Huh, what does a blue gummy bear taste like, I wondered? I found out later that night that it’s reminiscent of a blue raspberry Powerade. Apparently gummy bears could come not just in the five standard flavors but also in shades of turquoise, rose, scarlet, crimson (which is a different color and different flavor), and light pink. I counted twelve different hues in my little bulk quarter pound bag and thought, that can’t be right. But it was so right. While eating them that night, I felt my gummy bear world become technicolor like that scene in Pleasantville with Reese Witherspoon.
Many pounds of candy later and a few hours of dedicated internet sleuthing, I found out that Fairway gets their candy from the Albanese. For a second I thought it meant that they were from Albania but that’s Albanian. No, the Albanese Company comes from Merrillville, Indiana and they’re a family-run candy company that started in 1983.
On their website, one of their notable achievements includes developing technology in 1998 that allowed for a greater “flavor release from gelatin.” That’s not a marketing line, it’s genuinely true: Their twelve flavors of gummy bears include mango, pink grapefruit, pineapple, lime, cherry, and strawberry, and all taste distinct and separate, and like fruits, rather than “colors.” They burst with a perfect balance of juicy tang and sweetness. The candy is firm and chewy, you’ll experience some give without being too hard. Each bear is also generously sized, with an A on their tummy. Even the orange color tastes good. As is only logical, the green color does not confuse you by masquerading as strawberry, but as lime.
On Reddit, there’s even a message board dedicated to their greatness. On the Albanese candy site itself, grandmothers admit to loving these bears so much that they hide them from their grandchildren. I buy a five pound bag on Amazon about once a month. Just don’t make the mistake of buying the sugar-free ones (these are known as “demon bears,” and your intestines will tell you why -- the reviews assert they are still tasty though), and don’t settle for anything less than gummy bear perfection.
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