Shutterstock/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. (And in case you’re wondering, here’s my favorite honey recipe…so simple you really don’t need a recipe at all!)
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!