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Bonn, Germany: Home to maker of colorful gummy candy

Haribo gummies are ubiquitous around Germany. The colorful treats cluster around cash registers at gas stations, kiosks and corner markets. Larger stores often have whole aisles dedicated to the ever-expanding line of elastic treats.

So is a Haribo company store really necessary?

The short answer is no.

The slightly longer answer is no, but who cares?

Gummies aren’t meant to be necessary. They’re simply meant to be fun.

The German sweets scene is saturated with Kinder eggs and Milka chocolate bars, cinnamon-sugar crepes and powdered sugar waffles. Bakery cases overflow with decadent desserts and other sweets masquerading as breakfast. In warmer weather, the engineering marvel that is spaghetti eis leads its frozen colleagues into a place of prominence on German palettes.

And yet Haribo’s plucky gummy bear ambles confidently through this landscape on its stubby, spongy feet, cultivating and serving a vast and loyal fan base.

If you’re among those fans, you likely already have a favorite or two from among the long list of familiar and offbeat gummy products Haribo churns out. I’m a sucker for Happy Colas, a bottle-shaped, sugar-dusted confection that tastes like Coca-Cola with a lemon wedge, and marshmallow-coated blue sharks. My wife is more of a purist, preferring gummy worms, cherries and the stalwart bears. My kids, meanwhile, don’t say no to any of the above.

True gummy aficionados are always open to discovering and experiencing new varieties. It’s in that regard that the Haribo company store proves, if not necessary, at least valuable.

My family and I visited the flagship location as part of a sprawling road trip in the days before Christmas. Billed as the world’s first all-Haribo retail establishment, the two-story, 200-square-meter store opened in November in the scenic heart of Bonn, the former capital of West Germany and site of the founding of the Haribo corporation. Visitors winding through the city’s shopping district will find the colorful facade of the Haribo store bursting from its historic surroundings in the imposing shadow of the Bonn Münster, a cathedral dating to the 11th century.

Inside there is an impressive collection of packaged gummies and various Haribo-branded novelty items, including board games, umbrellas, toy cars and puzzles. Vintage pictures and old Haribo marketing materials dot the walls, providing an overview of the company’s evolution through the years.

A staircase offers access to a small but worthwhile gallery of artsy photographs featuring Haribo products in sophisticated scenes, like a gummy cherry as garnish on a flute of bubbling champagne. It’s a welcome respite from the bustle below, and the dose of culture, glib as it may be, eases the guilt of a visit otherwise based entirely on consumption and sugar.

But don’t kid yourself — you’re here for the sugar. The store’s main attraction — the pick-and-mix bar — fulfills that wish. Dozens of bins of gummies are arranged in two semicircles occupying the building’s entire back wall, with tongs, shovels, scales and bags provided for customers to indulge their particular tastes. It’s here where the gummy fan can load up on trusted favorites and sample the unfamiliar. The kids were thrilled to discover Pasta Basta, a thin, sugary, rainbow-colored strip perfectly suited for tearing and sharing.

The pay-by-weight model can quickly get out of control for the customer, but the price here is reasonable — a mere 69 euro cents for 100 grams. My family and I bought a mixed bag for ourselves, another for my office and a few off-the-shelf packages and escaped for under 20 euros.

I wouldn’t, and didn’t, drive the two hours to Bonn from Kaiserslautern for the Haribo store alone. But it’s a great first stop on a Bonn itinerary alongside the Beethoven house and the city’s museums and churches.

Just grab your bag of gummies and you’re on your way. You don’t need them, but you’ll be glad you have them.

broome.gregory@stripes.com Twitter: @broomestripes

Directions

Am Neutor 3, Bonn. From Kaiserslautern, take Autobahn 63, then A61 toward Koblenz. Exit onto A565 toward Bonn, then take the Bonn-Poppeldorf exit for the B9. Stay on the B9 into the city center.

Times

10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sundays.

Costs

No charge for admission, including the small art gallery on the second floor. Bags of assorted gummies from the pick-and-mix wall run 69 euro cents per 100 grams. The store also stocks a variety of packaged sweets.

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