Why Does Honey Come in a Cute Little Bear?

Of course we wanted to know! Learn the sweet tradition behind this iconic bottle.

Half Full Honey BearShutterstock/Robert Gebbie Photography

True story: I had a pale yellow, white-bellied teddy bear when I was a little girl. His name? Honey. I also had a cat named Muffin, so I must’ve been a food aficionado even at the ripe old age of 4. Still, it was clear to me then, and I bet you’ll agree:

Bears and honey just go together. But, I asked myself recently, how did that combo come to be? It’s such an everyday staple few of us have ever stopped to wonder why honey comes in that cute little bear! Here’s the sweet truth I discovered behind the iconic bottle.

How the Honey Bear Came to Be

Rewind to California, 1957. Two beekeeping couples, the Gambers and Millers, are having dinner at Ralph and Luella Gambers’. Shop talk turns to brainstorming how best to market their honey, and soon they strike upon the irresistible idea: Everyone knows that bears like honey (as in Winnie the Pooh, whose creator, A.A. Milne, had died just a year before). Winnie the Pooh was on people’s minds and in their hearts.

Add in the skyrocketing popularity of teddy bears (introduced in 1902 to honor President Teddy Roosevelt for famously sparing a bear’s life on a hunting trip), and Ralph got the sweet idea. Why not package the honey in a golden squeezable little bear?

The Gambers’ 10-year-old company, Dutch Gold, debuted the honey bear with yellow cone-hatted spout later that same year. The couple’s daughters, Marianne and Nancy, hand-painted little black noses and eyes (and sometimes even red lips) onto each bottle of Dutch Gold. The honey bear was immediately loved! Since Ralph Gamber never patented his bear-shaped honey bottle, many honey makers followed suit with their own honey bears.

In honor of the bottle’s 50th birthday in 2007, Dutch Gold had a contest to name the sweet and squeezable bear. And it wasn’t Honey. In homage to the company’s golden moniker, the winning name was Nugget!


Grab your honey bear and cook up a sweet creation.
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Christine Rukavena
Christine loves to read, curate, sample and develop new recipes as a senior book editor at Taste of Home. A CIA alumna with honors, she creates cookbooks and food-related content. A favorite part of the job is taste-testing dishes. Previous positions include pastry chef at a AAA Five Diamond property. Christine moonlights at a boutique wine shop, where she edits marketing pieces and samples wine far higher than her pay grade.