View Full Version : Gummi Grunts

03-06-03, 09:22 AM
Certain little green men have been giving deployed troops a considerable amount of joy recently. No, not aliens. These little green men are much smaller, sweeter and easier to catch.

Gummi Army Guys, designed to look like the miniature plastic soldiers so many of us played with when we were young (and maybe still today), are chewy, fruit-flavored confections that are making their mark in a gummi arena crowded with bears, worms and countless other gummi creatures. But these soldiers are just the first in an upcoming line of service-specific treats that will pay homage to each of our armed forces.

Larry Albanese, owner and operator of Albanese Confectionary Group Inc., a family-owned candy company in Merrillville, Ind., came up with this ingenious way of celebrating our American military heroes well before our nation found itself in such a precarious situation. Sitting on a train on his way to the world’s largest candy trade show in Cologne, Germany, Albanese explains the idea stuck him like a bolt of lightening more than five years ago.

“It was my first time in Germany and like any red-blooded American boy, I was thinking about World War II,” said Albanese, whose father and uncle are both veterans of the war. “I was there to create a new shape, and all of the sudden it was obvious what that shape should be - soldiers.”

Firm in his decision, as soon as he returned to the states, Albanese contacted “the big mold company” to discuss the cost and feasibility of recreating the GI Army guys in gummi form.

“They said that the shape was impossible to make,” he recalled. “But I wasn’t going to give up on the idea.”
For the next three years the idea remained on Albanese’s drawing board while he conducted his 20-year-old business that makes other gummi candies and chocolates. After years of trials and rejections, a new fire was lit under his gummi service member project.

“I was watching The O’Reilly Factor and saw that Bin Ladin had his own candy,” he explained. “I thought if that b*#$%&* can have candy named after him, then I can figure out a way to make candy for the real heroes - the U.S. armed forces.”

He put his nose to the grindstone and his shoulder to the wheel, and six months and $30,000 dollars worth of equipment later, the first Gummi Army Guy rolled off the line. The first packages of the green and red soldiers hit stores in Chicago in limited quantities in June 2002.

The fruits of Albanese’s labor are life-size representations of the plastic toys (2.5 inches), in two colors and flavors; green artillery apple and red cherry bomb. The candy comes in five action figure shapes, lovingly referred to as Bazooka Bob, Forest Fighter Steve, GI Johnny, Sniper Scott and Rifleman Rich. And though the only service currently available is Army, Albanese assures that gummi Marine warriors are on the way.

Also coming soon are gummies to honor the Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. But it seems that service members from all branches are already having fun with these chewy combatants.
Through the help of the American Forces Information Service, Albanese decided to let his clever creations join the men and women they were modeled after by sending a couple thousand bags to deployed troops from all branches of the service.

The response was numerous, thankful and eager for more.
“I have had thousands of e-mails requesting tens of thousands of bags,” he said.

Although financially unable to fill all requests, he has donated nearly 60,000 bags of the candy to service members overseas.
He has received many thanks from members of the Army as well as the Marines, Navy and Air Force for taking the time and effort to create the candy.

“Sometimes it’s the small things that make life overseas easier,” wrote Gunnery Sgt. Day. “I want to let you know you are doing a good thing.”

To represent the other services, Albanese plans to simply change the flavors and colors of Gummi Army Guys and redesign the packaging to give each branch gummi guys of their own. He explained that the molds he is using to create the Army Guys cost thousands of dollars, and since his company is still a fledgling, mom and pop-type outfit, this is the most economical way to provide the candy.

Surprisingly, the candy that took so long to create and suffered so much skepticism and rejection in its preliminary stages, just might give the Albanese Confectionary Group a jolt in an exciting direction. Gummi Army Guys have been nominated for Candy of the Year, 2002 by Professional Candy Buyers Magazine.

The candy soldier’s competition in the non-chocolate category includes Orbit Gum, Jolly Ranchers Fruit Chew Pops, Gummi Stock Cars and Creme Savers Soft Candy. Albanese is hoping for a win over the stiff competition to aid in boosting the availability of the sugar-laced soldiers. It will also earn them the honor of being inducted into the Candy Hall of Fame.

Currently, Gummi Army Guys are available at select Chicago candy stores or straight from the factory. Anyone interested in ordering some for themselves or to send to deployed troops, can e-mail Albanese at albaneselrry@aol.com or call (219) 738-2333.

“It is exciting to recognize these members of the military,” Albanese said. “They are true American heroes.”

Sgt Sostand
03-06-03, 09:39 AM
Hmm i wonder are those Marines

03-06-03, 12:45 PM
Candy is dandy, but.....

Every Vietnam vet will always remember McIlhenny's Tabasco Sauce.

Sent free, and carried as essential as a roll of toilet paper. C-Rats were never the same again.

For those who don't know, McIlhenny's is a Marine Family.

McIlhenny's Tabasco, don't leave home without it.

03-06-03, 01:32 PM
Originally posted by firstsgtmike
Candy is dandy, but.....

Every Vietnam vet will always remember McIlhenny's Tabasco Sauce.

Sent free, and carried as essential as a roll of toilet paper. C-Rats were never the same again.

For those who don't know, McIlhenny's is a Marine Family.

McIlhenny's Tabasco, don't leave home without it.

I never heard of it Top. how bout postin a addy where I can get sum?

03-06-03, 09:15 PM
Ham and Mothers, McIlhenny's made them great,never got it sent, just had buddys in the mess tent, they kept me supplied.

03-07-03, 12:28 AM
Are you hinting that these Gummi Grunts would taste better if they were up to their *sses in Tabasco sauce?:evilgrin: