Our Founder and Co-founder of HARIBO: Dr. Hans Riegel

An Eventful Life and a Visionary Legacy

Dr. Hans Riegel made a strong impression with his positive energy, his ideas, and his way of winning over others for himself and his goals. He displayed a remarkable drive when implementing projects, always aiming for peak results and success in his pursuit of both personal and professional goals.

The motto "Kids and grown-ups love it so, the happy world of HARIBO" also applied to Dr. Hans Riegel himself. Many a kid who has since grown up can recount tales of his impish nature and shared laughs.

But there is more: The HARIBO enthusiasm of young people always filled Dr. Hans Riegel with joy. This is the reason his foundation aims to give something back, particularly to young people by supporting and assisting them in a sustainable way as they shape their future.

Dr. Hans Riegel passed away at the age of 90 in Bonn, Germany, on October 15, 2013. He was buried in the shared final resting place of the Riegel family.

The following overview provides more insight into his life and his life's work:

Hans Riegel junior was born on March 15, 1923 as the first son of the married couple Hans and Gertrud Riegel. His sister Anita was born in 1924 and his younger brother Paul in 1926. From early childhood, Hans Riegel's life was inextricably linked to the production of candy. Father Hans Riegel Sr. had started running a small candy production business in a backyard utility room in Kessenich, a suburb of Bonn, back in 1920.

It didn't take long for him to achieve his first success. The Tanzbär, or dancing bear, the predecessor of the now world famous Goldbears, was invented in 1922. This was followed in 1925 by the no less famous HARIBO licorice wheels. The family business soon hired Gertrud Riegel as its first employee. The young mother was in charge of delivering the candy, about one hundredweight a day at the time, to customers in the area, in the beginning by bicycle.

Hans Riegel junior went to school at Aloisiuskolleg in Bad Godesberg, Germany, where he successfully graduated and obtained the Abitur, the German university entrance qualification. The years of war did not go by without leaving a mark on him: In 1944, he was drafted into military service and taken as a prisoner of war by the US. He was released in the spring of 1946, and upon his return, Hans Riegel immediately started studying economics at the University of Bonn (Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn). He completed his studies by earning his doctorate. The subject of his thesis was: "The development of the global sugar industry during and after the Second World War."

 

While still in university, Dr. Hans Riegel took over the management of his parents` business at the age of 23 along with his brother Paul. Together they increased candy production in a very short time. The two brothers had new ideas that expanded the product range. The famous Goldbears were created, which have left a mark on the candy market until today. As the markets developed during the economic miracle, the demand for candy increased as well. With hard work, intuition and a vivid and creative imagination, Dr. Hans and Paul Riegel turned their business in Bonn into a corporate group with operations around the world. Today, HARIBO runs 16 production facilities in Denmark, England, France, Austria, Spain, and Hungary, among others, and sells its products around the world.

 

Alongside his entrepreneurial pursuits, Dr. Hans Riegel was a sports enthusiast. In 1950, he founded the first German badminton club in Bonn, and in 1954 a sports facility with seven badminton courts was built on the factory premises. Dr. Hans Riegel himself won the German singles and doubles championships and was president of the German Badminton Association for ten years. In 1970, he became president of the sports club Schwimm- und Sportfreunde Bonn, where he was particularly committed to promoting youth sports.

As an entrepreneur, Dr. Hans Riegel stood out time and again because of his innovative ideas and products. That is why trade associations and institutions honored him with awards such as the Golden Sugar Loaf (Goldener Zuckerhut, Lebensmittelzeitung), the Candy Kettle Award (European Sugar Association) and the Golden Watch (Goldene Uhr, international confectionary association Sweets Global Network).

In 1972, Dr. Hans Riegel received the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Verdienstkreuz am Band des Verdienstordens der Bundesrepublik Deutschland) from the Federal President at the time, Gustav Heinemann. In 1993, he was awarded with the 1st Class Federal Cross of Merit (Verdienstkreuz Erster Klasse), and in 1999 the US confectionary trade association - the National Sales Association of America - inducted Dr. Hans Riegel into the Candy Hall of Fame, an honor only very few Europeans have had so far. In January 2006, Dr. Hans Riegel received the Bröckeännchen Award from the Bonn Media Club. This award honors personalities who have made a name for themselves in the Bonn region through their non-conformist, courageous behavior.

Dr. Hans Riegel also received recognition in Austria and France: On November 8, 2003, he was awarded with the Grand Decoration of Honor of the State of Styria (Große Ehrenzeichen des Landes Steiermark) and on November 24, 2009 the Grand Decoration of Honor in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria (Große Goldene Ehrenzeichen für Verdienste um die Republik Österreich). Also in 2009, he was admitted to the French Legion of Honor - a distinction for particularly outstanding achievements that to date has only been given to very few foreigners.

Dr. Hans Riegel worked for HARIBO until the end and built the family business into the global leader in fruit gum and licorice manufacturing.