So that’s why they scream when I bite them

By Phil Plait | June 16, 2008 11:51 am

Some people are just made of awesome.

This is the coolest thing I have seen in a long time (well, besides Phoenix, the GLAST launch, the last Hubble image… but you understand where I’m going with this). [Update (Oct 16, 2010: The original for this graphic at MoistProductions appears to be gone, so here’s a site with a nice big version of it.]

And it’s pronounced goo-mee, not guhm-ee. It’s German for "rubber" (or eraser). Danke.

Tip o’ the insulin shot to io9.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Humor

Comments (51)

Links to this Post

  1. Little Big Anatomy | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine | April 2, 2009
  1. Jonas Engelhardt

    I think it’s slang for condoms as well.

  2. Joachim

    “Gummi” is not slang for condoms in german (at least it wasn’t last time I checked) although the literal translation “Rubber” is of course in english. I can (from experience) tell you that it can lead to some embarrassment/confusion when a german exchange student asks for an eraser in a north american classroom.

    Gummi is also a short version for “Kaugummi” – chewing gum. Hence Gummibaer: chewy bear.

    Dammit, I want some now. Do you know how hard the _real_ ones are to find here in Montreal?

  3. QuantumTuba

    “made of awesome”

    Are you perchance a NerdFighter Phil?

  4. kx

    Hmm, I am pretty sure that “Gummi” is slang for condoms. On the other hand, I can’t remember that “Radiergummi” (eraser) is abbreviated as “Gummi” very often.

    P.S.: At least in the US you can order all kinds of Haribo sweets from amazon (just search for haribo) including “Gummibärchen”. However, I prefer “Colaflaschen” and “Lakritzschnecken”. :)

  5. Calli Arcale

    Haribo sweets are easily found at most local grocery stores here in Minnesota. Perhaps it is because there are so many folks here descended from Germans. You can even get them in bulk at a lot of supermarkets around here.

    Mmmmmmm…….

  6. Nic

    Gummi bears.. I used to like them. Can’t eat em anymore because they aren’t vegetarian (and I am). Boiled calves hooves are a definite no-no.
    (did I put you right off? Sorry).

    Unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be a good vegetarian substitute.

  7. DennyMo

    Ahdunno, that anatomy chart would imply that my gummi bears should crunch a bit when I bite into them. And that only happens when they’re REEAALLYY stale.

    Someone from England asking for an “eraser” in US schools causes the same titillation. I avoid the whole problem and just ask for a Staedtler, from Mars. (Others might avoid the whole problem by not making mistakes, but they’re just showing off.) Of course, an American claiming in a speech “Ich bin ein Berliner!” would be happily oblivious to the fact that he just proudly called himself a donut.

  8. kx

    I know some brands of “organic” Gummibärchen in Germany. But still they are non-vegetarian. They had some label on them saying that they tried but can’t get them right without gelatin.
    I even know a pseudo-vegetarian who is not able to become a real vegetarian because of Gummibärchen. :)

  9. Philip

    Germans talking about a “Gummi” most certainly have “Lümmeltüte” on their minds. It’s so common I wouldn’t even consider it slang.

    The eraser is better known as a “Ratzefummel”. But are pencils still in use? Backspace is so much easier.

  10. themadlolscientist

    ROFL! One more reason not to eat them (as if I needed one more).

    The rest of this guy’s stuff is equally full of awesome!

  11. Well, they do contain gelatin, which is made from animal bones and intestines, so in a way….

  12. Thomas Siefert

    Praline: Next we have number four, ‘crunchy frog’.

    Milton: Ah, yes.

    Praline: Am I right in thinking there’s a real frog in here?

    Milton: Yes. A little one.

    Praline: What sort of frog?

    Milton: A dead frog.

    Praline: Is it cooked?

    Milton: No.

    Praline: What, a raw frog?

    Milton: We use only the finest baby frogs, dew picked and flown from Iraq, cleansed in finest quality spring water, lightly killed, and then sealed in a succulent Swiss quintuple smooth treble cream milk chocolate envelope and lovingly frosted with glucose.

    Praline: That’s as maybe, it’s still a frog.

    Milton: What else?

    Praline: Well don’t you even take the bones out?

    Milton: If we took the bones out it wouldn’t be crunchy would it?

  13. Doc

    Funky!

    [reads legend on poster]

    Hey, wait a sec … all Gummibaers are male?

  14. kx

    Philip: Right, although “Ratzefummel” sound way more naughty than “Gummi”… :)

    themadlolscientist: There are worse things than gelatin. And most of those things are even “vegetarian”.

  15. kx

    Doc: Ahhh, you don’t want to know.
    Basically they don’t want you to breed your own. So they only sell the male ones.

  16. I’ve never really liked gummi bears, actually, but this guy’s stuff is pretty funny.

  17. Joe Meils

    I don’t suppose he’ll be doing one for jelly babies?

  18. zer0

    The BEST gummi’s are Gummi Cola! Little delicious cola flavored gummi coke bottles. Anyone else know what I’m talking about?!?!

  19. Danniel B.
  20. DrFlimmer

    zer0: germans just call them “colaflaschen” as mentioned above!

    and @philip: I wanted to say the same about the “ratzefummel”.

    But “gummi” is very common if you talk about a condom… so, there is no real short form for “gummibärchen”….

    @Phil: Bitte! ( = you’re welcome! ;) )

    anyway: I am still surprised how many german words are flying around in the english language! I never expected that english speaking folks don’t have an own word for “schadenfreude” or “gedankenexperiment”, but there you go! THAT is awesome ;)

  21. Buzz Parsec

    We don’t have a word for “schadenfreude” because that way we get to enjoy the experience while mocking the Germans. Two for one.

    “Thought experiment” is often used in english.

    BTW, I have it on reliable authority that there is no german word for “fluffy.”

  22. stoner

    fluffy – flauschig, fluffig, kuschelweich, duftig, luftig, schaumig etc. etc.

    and why would you be mocking germans anyway?

  23. ABR

    Rats! Curse you Thomas Siefert! I wanted to quote the crunchy frog sketch.

  24. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    But “gummi” is very common if you talk about a condom…

    Here in Sweden too, which is on the “gummi” side of the rubber thingie. (Except we do pronounce it rather like guhm-ee.)

    “Bär” is berries though, and you don’t get gelatin out of them, you may want to put it in there instead.

    There are worse things than gelatin. And most of those things are even “vegetarian”.

    Indeed. It often makes more sense to eat stuff that doesn’t defend itself with a cocktail of poisons; just kill it, you have to anyway, and eat around the sharp or hard parts. Which description for the most part would fit “animal”.

  25. Dark Jaguar

    Maybe the word is “goomi” there, but it’s gummi here. It’s how I hear them say it in commercials, in popular use, in the “gummi bears” cartoon show, and that’s how I’m going to say it! If it was originally based on some german word said another way, that’s interesting knowledge to have (and thanks) but it’s not pronounced that way any more, at least in America, and that’s how I’m going to say it!

    By the way Phil, is the substance of “gummi” capable of holding open a wormhole? Can I build a ship out of it to travel to other realities?

  26. I have fond memories of highschool chemistry glass and gummi bears. Specifically dropping them in melted potassium chlorate. If you’ve never done it this is what it looks like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gDCSwTV1Sg

  27. gman

    Maybe we can get PZ to tell us how gummi bear development works.

  28. autumn

    While we’re talking about the German language, isn’t the correct designation of the brow-ridged, extinct, co-habitors of Homo sapiens in Europe “neandertalensis”, or neandertal, rather than “neanderthalensis”, or neanderthal? Isn’t the “h” a holdover from archaic German spelling, and not pronounced even then?

  29. Supernova

    Ich bin eine Gummibärchen-Kunstkennerin (= connoisseur), and Haribo gummi bears are the best ever. The American knock-offs never get the texture right, plus the green ones tend to taste like antifreeze. I am SO happy that the real thing is easy to get in the States now.

    Haribo macht Kinder froh, und Erwachsene ebenso!

    (The anatomy thing is fun, but it does creep me out a little.)

  30. Mark

    My google fu has left me. I can’t find the news report (some years now) where some guys of the high-speed weapons research put a gummi bear into their railgun and pierced a block of aluminium with it.
    One of the quotes was “a hell of a lot of cleaning to do afterwards, and the whole firing chamber smelled of waldmeister” :)

    Of course, all that under the premise that my memory’s not playing tricks on me…

  31. Chazar

    First, there exist vegetarian Jellys (which I usually refer to as “knochenlose Gummibärchen”, i.e. bone-less bears), but I consider them to be inedible. You can get them at specialty shops throughout Germany which sell nothing but Gummibärchen. For example, see http://www.baerenland.com. They also sell huge 1kg Gummibears. Soak them in water for a day and it will give you nightmares… ;)

    Second, I’m German and if you ask me for a “Gummi”, you will either receive an elastic band, a condom or an eraser. All three are equal in use to me and it really depends on the context, so there is no shame in using the word. If there are jelly bears on the table, you could also get those, but me myself would use “Gummi” in that context only if the jellies weren’t bears, but strings or other larger forms.

    Third, sour cucumbers _or_ wine-flavoured ones are the best jelly bears. There is clearly no discussion in that matter! ;)

  32. Nigel Depledge

    Torbjörn Larsson, OM said:

    Indeed. It often makes more sense to eat stuff that doesn’t defend itself with a cocktail of poisons; just kill it, you have to anyway, and eat around the sharp or hard parts. Which description for the most part would fit “animal”.

    Hmmm … fugu, anyone?
    ;-)

  33. Nigel Depledge

    Dr. Flimmer said:

    anyway: I am still surprised how many german words are flying around in the english language! I never expected that english speaking folks don’t have an own word for “schadenfreude” or “gedankenexperiment”, but there you go! THAT is awesome

    While this is true, it is probably not important. German in particular lends itself to the formation of compound words, so there are many German words for which the English equivalent is a phrase rather than a single word.

    For instance, English has no equivalent for the word Vierwaldstaetteseedampfschifffahrts-gesellschaftsoberkapitaenstellvertraeter but I shan’t lose any sleep over it.

  34. Michael

    @autumn: The current spelling is “Neandertaler”, literally, “person from the Neander valley” (which, BTW, is not named after some Neander river, but after the person Joachim Neander). “Neanderthaler” is an old spelling, surviving in the scientific name.

  35. @Joachim: Sure it is…. It reall is one of the words for a condom. I’ve seen it used on Geman TV. Umgangssprachliche Bedeutungen von Gummi.

  36. Jonas Engelhardt

    Spoke to a German friend. Gummi is slang for condom, and is so common it is not really slang any more. An eraser is called Radiergummi. He had not heard it abbreviated as Gummi.

    BTW. Gummi is slang for condom in Danish and Swedish as well. It might be in Norwegian too, but Norwegian slang tend to be really odd, so I am not sure.

  37. Pembertom

    This is my first post ever, so please have mercy….

    I’m a german by birth, and have lived here ever since, so I may contribute to this topic:

    “Gummi” IS a slang word (and not just quite slang anymore, as mentioned above) for condom.
    It is also a rubber band or elastic band (also mentioned before).
    It is also used as a substitute word for “Plastik”, i.e. “Gummiente” (Toy Duck made of rubber or plastic, etc.)

    I have NEVER heard it as an abreviation for Radiergummi OR Gummibärchen.
    But if you want to avoid the bear (Bärchen) in the name, you may call it “Fruchtgummi” (fruity jelly)

    BTW: as we are taught British English in school, of course we are asking for a “rubber” when we need an eraser. I find it very funny (and kinda disturbing, too) that no teacher EVER has warned us about the potential (almost 100% certain) misunderstanding.

    Also, a complete generation of Germans is growing up in the firm belief that “Handy” is the correct english word for “Mobiltelefon” (Cell Phone).

  38. Th. Siefert refers to The Crunchy Frog gag from Monthy Python.

    My question is if vegetarians can eat “gummy bears” or not.

  39. Richard Smith

    Regarding the whole amusement about eraser :: rubber :: condom, we had a pretty complete set of Noddy books when I was growing up, and it was pretty clear when we’d passed the age of innocence when we’d snicker every time we saw the unfortunate title of one volume, Noddy and the Magic Rubber…

  40. Thomas Siefert

    My question is if vegetarians can eat “gummy bears” or not.

    Depends on how strict they are.

    I surprised a vegetarian just the other day by telling her that her bag of wine gums that she bought from M&S contained cow. It even said so on the bag that it contained “beef gelatin”.
    She gave the rest of the bag to me. :-)

  41. Nigel Depledge

    Pembertom said:

    BTW: as we are taught British English in school, of course we are asking for a “rubber” when we need an eraser. I find it very funny (and kinda disturbing, too) that no teacher EVER has warned us about the potential (almost 100% certain) misunderstanding.

    That’s probably because teachers of British English are largely unaware of all the different ways in which American English differs.

    Some of the differences are purely of spelling (colour / color, favour / favor, sceptic / skeptic etc.).

    Some of the differences are of pronunciation (e.g. “schedule” is pronounced “shedule” in British English [obviously, after its Germanic roots], whereas it is pronounced “skedule” in American English [which is more consistent with other words such as “school”]; “tourniquet” is pronounced “turnikay” in British English [because the word is so clearly French in origin] but “tornikett” in American English [presumably as a direct anglicisation of the French spelling]).

    Other differences are of the same words meaning different things (e.g. chips, vest, pants et al. all mean different things depending upon which side of the Atlantic you learned your English).

    I am sure that there are a great many differences, and it would be a large undertaking to track them all down. Thus, your teachers were probably unaware that the British English term “rubber” (from “Indiarubber”, meaning an eraser) has a different connotation on the other side of the Atlantic (where it commonly means a condom).

  42. Pembertom

    Thanks, Nigel.

    Does anybody know a website that’s dealing with these differences.
    Would be nice to know BEFORE our next trip to the US.

    @BA: I really enjoy your site, and I like to read the postings in your blog, but what I like most are the movie reviews. Hope you’ll find the time to post more of those.

    Back to the “rubber bears”:
    My brother-in-law is a vegetarian (not a vegan, though), and he just loves Gummibärchen. I will ask him about the issue next time I see him.

  43. Richard H.

    Ask and thou shalt get something or other….

    http://www.peak.org/~jeremy/dictionary/chapters/title.php

    For we Americans, asking for a “fanny pack” will get you snicker if you are a male. It would be almost as embarrassing for a Brit lady to ask for a “fanny pack” only to ask “How the hell is it supposed to fit?”

    But…you’ll have to look at the site to know what I mean.

  44. Chazar

    As I mentioned before: _Vegetarian_ and even vegan Gummibären-species do exist in quite noticeable variety, but I cannot recommend any of them.

    (However, being meat eater myself, I could not recommend any vegetarian sausage-knock-off either.)

  45. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    “Gummi” (or most often “gummiband”) is an elastic band in Sweden too, btw.

    Hmmm … fugu, anyone?

    “Most often”.

    Never touch the stuff myself, actually. :-P

  46. Folcrom

    Years ago (back in uni) a classmate of mine asked for a rubber.
    I tossed her a condom and thought nothing of it.
    Her face went bright red and she did not know where to look.

    Oops, I guess she meant eraser.

  47. Hey!

    I can assure you, that “Gummi” is slang for a condom. At least in Austria and I’ve also heard it in Bavaria.

    Greetings,

    DrK

  48. Sandra

    Sigh, now i have a second reason i don’t eat gummi bears anymore. Thanks give giving me another ookie factor.
    Oh, this is my first reason http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=astISOttCQ0&feature=related

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