The answer dates back to a dinner party in the 1950s.

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golden honey bear bottle on yellow background
Credit: joebelanger / Getty Image

Certain products become synonymous with the packaging they are in, but that's often because of its functionality. Ketchup packets and bottles come to mind, as do soda bottles. But ever wonder why you often see honey in bear-shaped jars? It's not always the easiest to squeeze.

In 1946, Ralph and Luella Gamber bought a few beehives in Lancaster, Pa., so he could experiment making honey for some nearby neighbors. Little did he know, it would eventually turn into a huge honey production, Dutch Gold Honey. It remains today, 75 years later.

More than a decade down the road, in 1957, over a friendly dinner with Woodrow and Rita Miller, fellow beekeepers from California, the idea for the bear-shaped honey jar was born. They were discussing novel honey packaging ideas.

"In the era of teddy bears, Winnie the Pooh, and Yogi Bear, the honey bear would soon become an industry icon," says Nancy Gamber, the youngest daughter of Ralph and Luella, and current CEO of Dutch Honey.

Today, 64 years after that dinner, the iconic bear-shaped honey jar is still around, and so many other honey brands have followed suit. When the iconic jar turned 50 years old, they held a naming contest. The winner named the honey bear "Nugget."

"Every year the bear honey sells more SKU' than any other container in the honey industry," says Gamber.

You can even find empty honey bear containers online for all of your squeezable needs.

The Evolution of the Honey Bear

The first honey bear jar wasn't a smashing success, in fact it was a leaky mess.

"Plastic molding technology was in its early stages, and it was not uncommon for the original bears to leak from the seams at their ears, or out of their noses," Gamber says.

Little details were hand painted, like the eyes and nose.

Today's production is much more streamlined.

"Now, honey bears are produced from PET plastic and are manufactured via blow molds. There are no seams where the honey could leak. Also, the eyes and nose are automatically printed when manufactured."

There are now four sizes as well: 0.2 ounces, 8 ounces, 12 ounces (original size) and 24 ounces.

Even as honey has evolved with more raw honeys and hot honey hitting the market, there will always be a special nostalgic place for kids and adults to squeeze their honey out of a bear shaped jar.

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