The Reason So Many Honey Bottles Are Shaped Like Bears

Honey – that sweet, golden, delicious syrup we use in everything from our favorite cup of tea to sweet and savory marinades and baked goods — has been around forever. We mean literally forever. According to The Spruce Eats, the first mention of this ingredient appeared in Sumerian and Babylonian writings in 2100 BC. But the cute little bear-shaped bottles that hold the golden nectar we've all grown-up with — those are more of a modern invention. But why are so many of these bottles shaped like bears and not bees or a beehive? It's a great question.

As AllRecipes explains, most mass-produced condiments and sweetener containers are designed with usage and efficiency in mind. A bottle shaped like a round bear with few nooks and crevices does not exude those qualities, even if it is also really adorable to look at. So what was the muse behind its creation? Did it begin with Teddy Roosevelt who, per NPR, famously inspired the creation of the teddy bear back in November 1902 when he refused to shoot a black bear in the wild? Smithsonian Magazine even notes that the makers of the first plush teddy bear abandoned their candy business because the stuffed toy became so popular. Or, did another famous and fictional bear named Winnie inspire the shape of our beloved honey bottles? It's actually a combination.

The bear-shaped honey bottle isn't patented

Per AllRecipes, two honey makers from Lancaster, Pennsylvania named Ralph and Luella Gamber are responsible for our favorite bear-shaped bottle. As the story goes, the couple, who had established their Dutch Honey company in the late 1940s, was having dinner with some fellow beekeepers from the grizzly bear state when the bear-shaped bottle concept was hatched in 1957 — it was a year after A.A. Milne (the creator of Winnie the Pooh) passed away (via Biography). Clearly, the Gambers didn't patent their bear bottle, but instead became trend setters. Their concept caught on because, today, the iconic bear-shaped bottle is used by plenty of honey makers. What was the inspiration though?  

Nancy Gamber, the CEO of Dutch Honey and daughter of the Lancaster couple responsible for this design, told AllRecipes, "In the era of teddy bears, Winnie the Pooh, and Yogi Bear, the honey bear would soon become an industry icon." Sounds like an amalgamation of bears to us. But why didn't they patent it? Ralph Gamber told the LA Times they were afraid it might resemble Winnie the Pooh too much, saying, "We made it look as different as possible. We thought we'd be sued. . . . We didn't know about franchise rights or whatever." 

Honestly, honey and bears just seem to naturally go together, in our opinion. As Winnie the Pooh famously quipped, "The only reason for being a bee is to make honey. And the only reason for making honey is so I can eat it." Amen, Winnie. Amen.